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Exercise after Spinal Fusion!

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Old 01-15-2009, 01:18 PM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Orlando, Florida, U.S
Posts: 63
bekkieboop89 HB User
Exercise after Spinal Fusion!

Hi All!

On Dec 29th 2008 I had a Spinal Fusion of L4, L5 and S1. I haven't posted much on healthboards, but I've been reading all the advice and tips that you lovely people have posted, and it's been so helpful.

I'm in my third week of recovery, and although I'm still on pain meds my life is much better than it was the 6 months prior to the surgery. I've started physical therapy, and am walking around fairly well with my cane (hopefully soon I'll be walking on my own!).

I have a question about exercise after spinal fusion, becasue I've been getting different advice everywhere. How soon can I start walking long distances? Swimming? Jogging? Dancing? I know that healing up after such an invasive procedure can take a while, and I am willing to wait, but having an estimate figure will give me something to look forward too.

I'm 19, and becasue of my back pain had to give up a lot of activities I loved: Belly Dancing, Jogging, Swimming, going to the Gym, etc. and I'm just wondering how many months/years I will have to wait until I can start incorporating these activities back into my life. I assumed its best to ask people who have actually gone though this, rather than trusting ball park estimates from various websites.

Thank you so much!

Wishing you all the best health in the new year,

"If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere.” - Frank A Clark

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Old 01-16-2009, 11:15 AM   #2
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Virginia
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BlueAtlas HB UserBlueAtlas HB UserBlueAtlas HB UserBlueAtlas HB UserBlueAtlas HB UserBlueAtlas HB UserBlueAtlas HB User
Re: Exercise after Spinal Fusion!

Your doctor will give you the best answer, but in a nutshell, walk as much as you're able to tolerate. The gets blood circulating around your spine, which is essential for bone growth. You're supposed to refrain from bending, lifting, or twisting while you're waiting for fusion to fully happen, so you probably want to wait on belly dancing or jogging until you are proclaimed fused. This can take 6 months to a year, sometimes longer, but the more you walk, the better. I was fully fused at 6 months, and I was at higher risk for nonfusion!

I hope this helps. Hang in there. You'll get your life back!


P.S. I have 14 vertebrae fused, T4-Sacrum, and I dance. Of course, the robot it my best dance!

Old 01-16-2009, 10:36 PM   #3
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Orlando, Florida, U.S
Posts: 63
bekkieboop89 HB User
Re: Exercise after Spinal Fusion!


Thanks for your reply! It's nice to hear from someone who is back into dancing after a fusion! That's better news than what I was expecting to hear - I was sure I would be told "years and years" or "never again".

My doc told me that I was in great health, and very young, so likely to fuse in 3 to 4 months (although that sounds very fast to me). Your post has made me feel very optimistic and given me something to look forward too, thank you!

I'm still wondering about higher impact exercises - are they still possible? Things like running, using an elliptical, lifting weights .....anyone who has contined these hobbies after a fusion?

Take care,


P.S The Robot is the coolest dance anyway!
"If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere.” - Frank A Clark

Old 01-18-2009, 10:46 PM   #4
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 745
caszyman HB User
Re: Exercise after Spinal Fusion!

My daughter is now 19 and had a fusion from L4 - S1 in June of '05. Her doctor gradually allowed her to do more activities. As Blue Atlas said he made her wait until after the no bending lifting twisting time. Before beginning a new activity we always checked with her dr. first.

Her dr did not put her through any physical therapy post op. His therapy was to walk, walk, walk. By about 9 weeks post op she was walking three miles a day. She was able to go back to the Y and use the treadmill or elliptical after the no blt was done. I think after one year she went back on the boat but she waited until two years post op to resume water skiing in moderation. At 14 month post op her dr let her take up tennis for the first time and she played tennis her senior year of high school.

Today she is 3 years and 7 months post op. She has resumed all former activities, except dancing, in moderation. When she asked her dr about going back to dancing his answer was that was what made her slip advance so it wouldn't be wise to go back to that activity. She hasn't danced since she was 15 so that doesn't really bother her too much now. I know she really missed dancing the first year or so. Her dr's answer may be much different now that she is so far post op but she hasn't had the desire to go back now.

Besides from that she really has very few restrictions. Even now she does still check with her dr if the activity is a brand new one but he tells her to listen to her body. She bowls, water skis on one ski, snow skis, snowmobiles, sleds, ice skates, plays tennis ... She does all of these activities in moderation. Things she doesn't do at all - ride amusement park roller coasters or rough rides, shovel snow, move furniture or lift heavy things. One therapist told her not to ever wake board. Besides that she is away at college and now lives the life of a normal 19 year old again.

Good luck to you. Being young was such a plus for her. I hope you too will soon be resuming your normal activities again. Just be sure to check with your dr prior to beginning any activity. cas

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