After a spinal fusion surgery for spondylolisthesis, the patient will be hospitalized for one to five days. Early ambulation is encouraged as walking helps limit the chances of postoperative complications, such as deep venous thrombosis or pneumonia. It is also very gentle on the spine and can enhance healing.

Life after Spondylolisthesis Spinal Fusion Surgery

With modern stabilization procedures, the need for postoperative bracing is now very limited. Most patients will not require a brace. Surgeons have different preferences as to how fast a patient is mobilized and how soon rehabilitation is started.

Between 6 to 12 weeks after the spinal fusion, stabilization exercises to redevelop core strength can be useful. These strengthening exercises, along with hamstring stretching and conditioning, will be encouraged to allow the patient to become more functional.


After three to six months, the spinal fusion is usually set, and the patient will be allowed to resume normal activities. In the early postoperative course, most surgeons will limit the patient's activity. After the fusion is set, the more the patient uses their fusion, the stronger it will get.

Bone is a live tissue, and it will respond to stress by increasing the strength of a fusion. Generally speaking, permanent activity restrictions are not necessary after a one-level fusion at L5-S1, but may be considered in cases of multilevel fusions.

Dr. Peter Ullrich is an orthopedic surgeon who retired from practice with more than 20 years of experience specializing in spine surgery. Dr. Ullrich previously practiced as an orthopedic spine surgeon at the NeuroSpine Center of Wisconsin.