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How Long Does it Take to Recover From Back Surgery?

If you're one of the millions of people who suffer from back problems, you may be considering surgery as a way to find relief. But how long does it take to recover from back surgery? And what can you expect during the recovery process? Here's what you need to know.

Back surgery is a big deal

It's not something to be taken lightly. The decision to have back surgery should only be made after you've exhausted all other conservative treatment options, such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, and/or massage therapy. If you've been told by your doctor that you need back surgery, the first thing you probably want to know is, "How long does back surgery recovery take?"

The answer to this question is not as simple as it might seem. There are several factors that can affect the duration of your back surgery recovery, including the type of back problem being corrected, the type of procedure used to correct the problem, the extent of the procedure, and how well you follow pre-op and post-op instructions.

For example, if all or part of one of your discs was removed, your recovery will be over in about two to three weeks. This timeline also holds true if your back was widened at your spinal column where your nerve roots exited. However, if you had multiple laminae removed or two of your bones were fused together, your recovery will take between one and six months, depending on your age.

Of course, these are just general guidelines. Every individual heals differently and there are always exceptions to the rule. That's why it's important to talk to your doctor about what you can expect during your particular back surgery recovery. They will be able to give you a more specific timeline based on the procedure you're having done and your individual healing rate.

Ways to Speed Up Recovery from Back Surgery

To ensure a speedy and successful recovery, it is important that you follow all pre-op and post-op instructions provided to you by your spine surgeon.

During your initial evaluation, your surgeon will develop a plan specifically for you, based on the nature and severity of your condition.

Along with this plan, you will be given a list of all things you need to do before and after your surgery in order to facilitate a smooth and successful recovery.

It is essential that you adhere to these instructions as they are designed with your health and well-being in mind. If you have any questions or concerns about your pre-op or post-op care, do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor. They are always there to help ensure that you have everything you need for a smooth recovery.


Walking is an important part of any post-op recovery plan. Walking helps to strengthen your circulatory system, which in turn helps to transport growth factors and nutrients to your spine and surrounding tissues. It is important to listen to your body, but that doesn't mean skipping out on your post-op walks.

Regular, short walks during the first two weeks post-op are key to a successful recovery.

If you were highly active before your surgery, you may be tempted to push yourself too hard. However, it is important not to increase your distance or speed too fast. Following these guidelines will help ensure a successful recovery.

Be Careful With Sitting

Avoid the temptation of sitting in your softest chair for hours on end. While rest is important, your recovery will end sooner if you sit and walk appropriately. Sit in a sturdy chair with arms and make sure your posture is correct. This means you should be able to hang an imaginary string from the base of your skull down to your pelvis.

If you’re not sure of the posture you should be sitting in, ask your physical therapist. Shift your position every once in a while but make sure you don’t twist your spine while moving in your seat. To keep your circulatory system actively engaged, perform seated toe raises, and get up every 30 to 45 minutes to take a short stroll. All of these little things can help improve your circulation and prevent stiffness and soreness.


At Prime Surgical Suites, we provide state-of-the-art, cost-effective musculoskeletal surgical care in a convenient and comfortable outpatient setting for patients of all ages. Located in RiverCrest Medical Park, we are the region's first outpatient center focused exclusively on orthopedics. Our physician-led center will help restore your active lifestyle and well-being with compassion and orthopedic excellence.

Tags: Back