Back Post Surgical Recovery

General Instructions for Lumbar Surgery Patients

What to expect:

  • You procedure will last 1-2 hours, Fusions 3 hours +
  • We will ask you to get up and walk within two hours after your procedure and you will be discharged on the same day.
  • You will be given a prescription for pain medicine to take home. You will typically take 1-2 Tylenol #3 tablets every 4-6 hours as necessary over the first 4-5 days postoperatively.
  • There are no stitches to remove. The steri-strip ‘band-aids’ will peel off in 3-5 days.
  • You can get your incision wet four days following the procedure, then pat the incision dry with a towel. It is better to shower during the first two weeks after the procedure. Do not soak in a tub or pool.
  • See your doctor one week after the surgery to check the incision.
  • It is normal to experience a moderate level of back pain during the first few weeks of recovery. Try to avoid sitting for longer than 20 mins at a time for the first week (excluding the ride home). Go for at least two walks a day (start with short walks of about 10 minutes for the first week and slowly increase to 30 minutes over the course of the following two weeks.
  • It is normal to feel somewhat fatigued after surgery. Get lots of rest (remember that lying is better than sitting).

Activity Levels

Your activity will generally start as soon as you are awake and will gradually increase as tolerated. Your goal should be to become as active as possible while protecting your back. Follow these back sparing principles to promote healing and prevent injury following your surgery and during your recovery.
Lying Down
Lie flat on your back with pillows under your head and knees
Lie on your side with pillows length-wise between your legs.
Rolling while Lying
Bend your knees up one at a time
Look in the direction you want to roll
Roll like a log, moving your hips and shoulders at the same time.
Lying to Sitting
Log roll onto your side
Move your feet to the edge of the mattress
Lower your feet to the floor as you push yourself up into a sitting position using your arms.


  • If your surgeon has prescribed a back brace, instructions will be provided on the proper way to put it on and take it off. You will also be taught how to move properly while wearing the brace.
  • Increase your activity level gradually. Rest when you fee tired or pain.
  • Avoid lifting, stooping, twisting and bending until instructed by your surgeon.
  • Change your position as required for comfort.
  • Walking is the recommended exercise. Walk in moderation and according to your pain. Walk on a safe walking surface (e.g. walking in a mall in the winter if the sidewalk is icy).
  • Ask your surgeon for suggestions on the amount of weight you can lift. Increase the amount with his/her permission.
  • Proper lifting techniques (regardless of the weight) are essential. Follow these guidelines to keep your back healthy:
  • When lifting, keep your arms at levels between your shoulder and hip. Remember to tighten up your stomach muscles, bend with your legs and keep your back straight.
  • Whenever possible, slide objects to moved them rather than lift. Use a cart or a wheeled trolley whenever you can to avoid carrying anything.
  • When lifting, keep the objects light and close to your body.
  • Ask your surgeon when you can return to work, as this will be different for everyone.

Discharge Instructions

Your surgeon will provide you with specific post surgical instructions relevant to your needs to ensure a safe progression back to your regular duties.
Contact us today to talk to one of our healthcare professionals.

Back Post Surgical Recovery last modified: April 7th, 2015 by Centric Health
  • Quick Contact

  • Location

    Canadian Surgery Solutions
    #300 - 1402 8th Ave. NW
    Calgary, Alberta
    Canada T2N 1B9
    Phone: (403) 220-0410
    Fax: (403) 220-0500