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Life After Spinal Fusion

Life After Spinal Fusion

As one of the country’s leading spinal surgeons, Dr. Patrick McNulty has performed countless spinal fusion procedures. His expertise and experience give our patients peace of mind ahead of their surgeries and outstanding results afterward.

If you have a spinal fusion procedure scheduled at McNulty Spine in Las Vegas or Henderson, Nevada, you can expect world-class facilities, unparalleled skill, and transformative results. And here’s what to expect in the days, months, and years following your surgery.

The phases of spinal fusion recovery

A spinal fusion surgery joins together two or more vertebrae in your spine to prevent movement between them, reducing pain and improving stability. Dr. McNulty often uses it to treat conditions like degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, fractures, infections, and tumors.

The road to recovery after spinal fusion surgery typically unfolds in three main phases: immediate postop, intermediate recovery, and long-term recovery.

Immediate postop symptoms

During the first few days after surgery, we focus on managing your pain and getting you moving. 

You may experience discomfort or outright pain, as well as swelling and bruising. These are normal and temporary symptoms. 

Dr. McNulty prescribes pain medication to keep you comfortable in the early stages of recovery, but movement — as directed by Dr. McNulty and our team — is the best medicine.

Physical therapy exercises maintain muscle function and improve circulation, so we get you started immediately.

Intermediate recovery

The intermediate phase lasts from a few weeks to a few months post-surgery. You'll notice a gradual reduction in pain and increased mobility. It's crucial during this time to follow your physical therapy regimen and avoid activities that could strain your back.

Long-term recovery

Long-term recovery spans several months to a year or more. This is when the bones in your spine fully fuse. You'll continue physical therapy and gradually resume normal activities. Regular check-ups with Dr. McNulty ensure the fusion is proceeding as expected.

The road ahead

Recovery from spinal fusion surgery is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires patience, persistence, and dedication. But with each passing day, you’re one step closer to a life with less pain and more activity.

Remember to listen to your body and communicate openly with Dr. McNulty and our team. Be aware of potential signs of complications, like persistent pain, fever, or new neurological symptoms.

The power of positivity

Undergoing any surgery, including spinal fusion, increases your risk of experiencing post-operative depression due to a combination of physical stress, pain, reactions to medications, and the emotional toll of recovery.

Depression following surgery can impact your recovery process; from decreased motivation to engage in rehabilitation exercises to an increased perception of pain, depression can lengthen the recovery period significantly. Depression also makes it tough to stick to your post-operative instructions.

The good news is that adopting an optimistic mindset during your recovery process can enhance your body’s healing ability. For example, a positive attitude can improve your immune function and increase pain tolerance. 

If you have a spinal fusion surgery scheduled, talk to Dr. McNulty about your recovery and how your life will change for the better. Request an appointment online or call McNulty Spine in Las Vegas or Henderson, Nevada. 

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