Activity pacing

The first three days after surgery, attempt to take two to three walks between five and 10 minutes each, wearing your support. For the next two weeks, attempt to take three to four walks daily between 15 to 20 minute durations. As your walk time increases, decrease the number of walks per day. Do not perform any one activity for a prolonged period of time, i.e., greater than 60 minutes. Listen to your body; if it hurts, stop or don’t perform that activity until a future time.


Sustained postures

Avoid staying in one posture for too long a time, i.e., greater than 30 minutes.  Change positions frequently, going from sitting to standing to lying periodically over the next two weeks.


Repetitive motion

Avoid activities that require you to frequently bend over or look up and down. If you must perform a repetitive activity, be sure to break up the task and take frequent rests. Use correct body mechanics for these activities.



You will be informed when it is appropriate to go back to your previous exercise routine.  When that becomes possible, you should strive for cross-training.  This simply means to vary the parts of your body you exercise. Do not always perform the same aerobic or strengthening exercise. Remember to alternate between recumbent exercise bike, elliptical trainer, treadmill, walking, strength training or aquatic exercise.


Strenuous exercise involving weights or loads above 10lbs

You should wait six to eight weeks after surgery and be under supervision. Avoid any heavy pushing, pulling or lifting with weights during exercise and/or lifting heavy loads at home or work.  When you are cleared to return to a gym program, you will want to focus on lighter weights and more repetitions.


Lumbar corsets

The corset is provided to offer extra support during the first 2-6 weeks of the healing phase. It should fit snugly but not increase pain at all. Use of the corset will depend on your specific surgery. Use the corset during activity phases such as standing or walking, but not during sitting or lying, unless in a long car ride. After 2-6 weeks, depending on the surgery performed, it is not necessary to continue using the corset unless for support during strenuous activities.


Cervical collars

This is also used to provide a support and a resting position for the neck. It should be used during driving, walking and physical activities to support the neck and also during sitting when involved in prolonged reading or computer work.  Use of the collar will depend on your specific surgery.


Physical therapy

It usually starts two to four weeks after surgery, should you need it, or your surgeon recommends it. Your surgeon’s nurse will provide you with the necessary prescription for this and the facility.  Unless prescribed, the facility of your choice can be used.



Therapy may be prescribed and therapists can work with you to improve balance, strength, speech,
and daily living skills. If you are having problems with strength or movement, your therapist may suggest installing hand rails in hallways or bathrooms at home.



Recovery takes time, and patience is of at most importance in getting through the milestones of recovery.  Try to be as informed as possible about expectations.  Most people return to activity without problems if they follow the recovery steps carefully. However, some may continue to feel more tired or sore than usual for several months after the surgery, especially lumbar fusion surgery, as the muscular elements above and below the wound heal properly.


When To Call the Doctor

After brain surgery, call your surgeon at once if you have any of the following:

-Increased drowsiness

-On-going nausea or vomiting
-Shortness of breath
-Pain and swelling in a leg
-Fever of 101.0° or greater
-Burning during urination

-Focal weakness in an arm or a leg

After spine surgery, call your surgeon if you have any of the following:

-Increased redness of the incision and around the incision.

-Continued drainage more than few days after surgery

-Visible sutures protruding through the skin

-Increased numbness or tingling in a particular arm or leg more than a week after surgery


After Your Hospital Stay

You may be able to go home as soon as you can walk, eat and drink normally. Back home, family
and friends may offer help and support. Accept help when needed, but it’s important to strike a balance. Keep in mind that you’re striving to become independent again.


Keep Follow-up Visits

You may have an office visit two weeks after the surgery.  At that time, any remaining stitches or staples may be removed. You can expect to meet with your surgeon about every four weeks for the first few months. You may also have follow-up imaging tests to ensure your condition is stable.