Rehabilitation following Spinal Fusion: What will physiotherapy involve?

What is a spinal fusion surgery?

Spinal fusion is a surgery that involves fusing two or more of the spinal bones (vertebrae) together to eliminate movement at a segment of the spine which is causing pain. This is done by placing bone, bone-like material or a spacer between the spinal vertebrae which encourages new bone to grow and connect the vertebrae together. Metal screws, plates or rods are used to secure the vertebrae together – eliminating any movement at that segment.

Who might require a spinal fusion?

Many spinal conditions can be treated though spinal fusion including:

  • Spinal stenosis
  • Degenerative discs
  • Spinal tumours
  • Fractures of the spine
  • Spondylolisthesis (slipping vertebrae)
  • Scoliosis and Kyphosis (abnormal curvatures of the spine)

Rehabilitation following Spinal Fusion. What will physiotherapy involve?

Rehab will begin the day following surgery. Evidence shows that early mobilisation is effective in reducing length of hospital stay, reducing postoperative complications, improved function and improved patient-reported outcome measures 1. The physiotherapists on the ward will assist with walking and provide any required assistive devices such as walking frames.


1: Burgess LC, Wainwright TW. What Is the Evidence for Early Mobilisation in Elective Spine Surgery? A Narrative Review. Healthcare (Basel). 2019;7(3):92. Published 2019 Jul 18. doi:10.3390/healthcare7030092

2: Zieve, D (2019) Spine surgery – discharge, Available at: (Accessed: 16/01/2020).

3: Sherman, J. (2019) Spinal Fusion Surgery Recovery: 1 to 3 Months After, Available at: (Accessed: 16/01/2020).

4: Hashem, M. (2019) Lumbar Fusion Rehabilitation, Available at: (Accessed: 16/01/2020).

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