Question: What is the Average Spinal Fusion Recovery Time?
Answer: It varies widely, as you’ll see below.
Recently, someone left this comment/question on one of my Instagram posts: “At 7 weeks out now I walk only a mile and my legs fire up. Sleep is elusive…my surgeon said 6-8 weeks and all should be good. Not so. So getting worried. Any insight?”
I’m often asked some variation of this question, and I’ve included my response in the FAQ section of his blog. But the other day, I decided to pose this question to the spinal fusion community on Instagram. I asked:
How long did it take for you to feel “normal” [after your spinal fusion] vs. what your surgeon said?
I received a wide range of responses. If you missed my stories or don’t follow me on Instagram (you can follow me HERE), I’ll list them here for you. (I’ve edited some answers for clarity & punctuation, since I don’t have a character limit here like we do on Instagram!)
- “5 months we went to Puerto Rico and I was feeling great! (Much later than [my surgeon] said.)”
- “I am 8½ months and starting to really feel closer to my old self. I believe it will take the full year.”
- “My surgeon said 6 months, I think it took me 24 months to be close to my new ‘normal.’
- “About a year for ‘normal.’ Almost 2 years now, and I’m in the best shape of my life.”
- “Define normal…”
- “Doc said 12 weeks. Had 2nd surgery to remove hardware at 10 months due to irritation.”
- “Close to a year.”
- “Oh man, it’s different for everyone! I still don’t feel normal, but strong now!”
- “3 months, and it felt like forever. It wasn’t until a year that I really felt ‘normal.’
- “I noticed a huge improvement after 3 months.”
- “9 months.”
- “Surgeon said one year for a spinal fusion (in the Netherlands). The first 6 weeks we have to lay down.”
- “I feel mostly ‘normal’ but still healing between 3-6 months!”
- “At least a year to really feel myself again. Two years on and I’m a different person, little pain.”
- “Never? I was almost normal at 12 weeks but then everything reversed indefinitely.”
- “10-12 [months] for sure.”
Lots of variation here, but you’ll notice that not a single person said that they felt “normal” at 6-8 weeks! Did your surgeon tell you that it would take about 6-8 weeks to recover? Mine did.
If you’re a couple of months into your recovery and wondering why you don’t feel “normal” or “better” yet – if you’re wondering if something is wrong because you’re not healing as quickly as your surgeon said you would – take heart because you are not alone. Some people feel normal at 8 weeks post-op, but most do not. Be patient with your body and allow yourself to heal at your own pace. Everyone’s timeline is different.
How long did it take YOU to feel normal after your spinal fusion? Please chime in and add your response in the comments!
Be well & stay strong,