Recovering From Back Surgery, How Long Will It Take?

March 27, 2013

The King of Spain just had back surgery this past Sunday. According to the palace, the surgery was successful. But still, the king had to stay at the hospital for about a week. And it will take him another 2 to 6 months to recover, according to the surgeon who performed the surgery.

But fortunately, not all back surgery requires that long of a recovery. And not all patients need to stay at the hospital for a week.

A number of factors can affect the length of back surgery recovery. The following are some of the most important ones.

Type of back surgery
In general, the more invasive the surgery is, the longer the recovery will be. Take open back surgery and minimally invasive endoscopic spine surgery as examples. Open back surgery generally requires a hospital stay, and a full recovery can easily take a few months. Minimally invasive endoscopic spine surgery, on the other hand, generally doesn’t require a hospital stay, and a full recovery may last only a few weeks.

Complexity of back surgery
Not all back surgery operations are the same. Some are more complex than others. Naturally, the more complex the surgery is, the longer the recovery will be. For example, back surgery for multiple-level bone fractures is more complex than back surgery for a single-level lumbar disc herniation. And the recovery following the former surgical procedure will be longer that the latter.

Severity of the condition to be treated
A more severe condition requires a more complex surgery. As a result, the recovery will be longer. In the Spanish king’s case, the king had back surgery to fix slipped discs, and to treat spinal stenosis. So the surgical operation was complex, which may partially contribute to the king’s long recovery.

Life style
The patient’s life style can also affects back surgery recovery. Multiple studies have shown that smoking can delay back surgery recovery. And a recent study confirms, once again, that smoking cessation improves back pain treatment.

Additionally, the patient’s age and overall health condition also play big roles in back surgery recovery. In general, it takes older patients longer time to recover from back surgery than younger patients. And a healthy person generally will recover faster than a less healthy person.