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Lumbar Spinal Fusion

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

Lumbar spinal fusion is a surgery to treat an injury or problems with your lumbar spine (lower back). In lumbar spinal fusion, 2 or more vertebrae are joined together using bone grafts or implants, screws, and rods. This will help stabilize your back and may reduce pain.


Seek care immediately if:

  • You have severe back or leg pain.
  • You cannot control your bladder or bowel movements.
  • You have a high fever with nausea and vomiting.
  • You have a stiff neck or a headache.
  • You are confused or have a seizure.
  • You have trouble breathing.

Call your doctor if:

  • You have increased pain, redness, or swelling at your incision.
  • You have increased drainage or bleeding from your incision.
  • You have weakness, tingling, or pain in your leg.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
  • Medicines can help relax your muscles, or decrease pain and swelling. You may also need medicine to prevent a bacterial infection.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Wound care:

Care for your incision wound as directed. You may need to carefully wash the wound with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages when they get wet or dirty. Ask someone to help you if you cannot reach your incision wound. Take a shower with your wound away from the stream of water. Do not take a bath or swim until your wound heals.

Self-care after lumbar spinal fusion:

  • Rest as needed. Slowly return to your normal activities. Do not sit for long periods of time. Do not bend, twist, or lift heavy objects for at least 3 months, or as directed by your healthcare provider. Ask when it is safe for you to return to work or drive.
  • Reduce strain and pressure on your spine. Place a pillow under your knees when you lie on your back. Place a pillow between your knees when you lie on your side. When you sit, put your feet up on a footrest. If you need to bend over, bend at your knees, not your back. Do not lie on your stomach or with your legs flat.
  • Wear a brace as directed. Your healthcare provider may recommend a brace to support your back and help it heal.
  • Go to physical therapy as directed. A physical therapist will show you exercises to safely improve your strength and movement. These exercises can also help decrease pain.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask your provider to help you create a weight loss plan if needed.
  • Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Quitting can help you heal after surgery. Ask for information if you need help quitting.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.