How Long after Spine Surgery can I Drive, go to Work, & Exercise?

Category: Surgery Recovery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: August 21, 2014

driving after surgeryOne of the first questions patients have before going into surgery is: how long after the procedure can I drive, go to work, exercise, etc.? We will answer this common question in this article by discussing some general timelines for post-op recovery. Before we begin, be aware that the answers to these questions are highly dependent on the patient’s individual circumstances, as well as the procedure performed. For specific answers for your situation, ask your surgeon.

When Can I Drive?

You should have a family member or friend drive you to your appointment and pick you up after surgery. It is not safe to drive until the anesthesia has worn off.

After you return from the hospital, driving depends on the type of post-op medication you are taking and the pain you are having. Do not drive if you are taking opioids post-op. This is illegal and dangerous. Once you have weaned off the opioid pain meds, you should be able to get back behind the wheel.

When Can I go Back to Work?

When you are able to return to work after your back surgery all depends on your occupation. Patients whose work involves a lot of manual labor (construction jobs, for example) will not be able to fully return to their job duties for several weeks to months post-op. Those who work desk jobs with little physical activity required, should be able to get back to the office in a couple weeks.

When Can I Exercise?

You can (and should) exercise right after your operation. Your doctor will explain a few physical therapy exercises that will help speed your recovery. Keeping your body moving, rather than lying in bed all day, is the best thing you can do to get your spine back to optimal health. However, you should keep the exercise moderate. Avoid intense weight lifting, and endurance running for a few months until you are fully recovered.



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