Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Recovery: What You Need to Know

Recovering from minimally invasive spine surgery can be a challenging process, but with the right information, you can ensure that you recover in the best possible way. It is important to understand the type of procedure you have undergone, as well as the expected recovery time and normal activities you should avoid during your healing period. Knowing what to expect when it comes to pain after surgery can also help you plan for a successful recovery. With this information in hand, you will be able to better manage recovery from this major surgery, avoid risks of infection, and get back to your normal activities in no time!

Minimally invasive back surgery has a high success rate of over 90%, making it an attractive option for those looking for a less-invasive treatment
Compared to traditional surgery, minimally invasive spine surgery offers a faster recovery time and reduced postoperative pain

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery: The procedure

Minimally invasive back surgery is an approach where a neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon can perform the surgical procedure without making a large incision, and the muscles and soft tissues in the back are generally not cut.

The goal is to relieve the pressure being applied to the spinal nerves — often a result of painful conditions such as spinal instability, bone spurs, herniated discs, scoliosis, or spinal tumors.

Open spine surgery involves making a large incision in the back and manipulating muscle to provide access to the surgical site. This type of surgery can have a long and sometimes painful recovery period compared to minimally invasive procedures, which use smaller incisions, fiber-optic imaging, and small instruments.

Benefits of this Minimally Invasive procedure

Back surgery using minimal invasion offers several advantages. Hospital stays are shorter, and patients may be able to go home on the same day of surgery since it is considered an outpatient procedure. There is a shorter recovery time, and postoperative pain may be reduced. Small incisions can decrease scarring, resulting in a more positive patient experience than traditional procedures, which usually require internal incisions and extensive removal of muscle tissue.

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery: Success Rate

The success rate of minimally invasive spine surgery is generally over 90%, slightly lower than that of open spinal surgery (95%). Nonetheless, many choose the minimally invasive approach to benefit from its advantages.

Recovery From Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

The healing time for minimally invasive spine surgery is typically shorter than for an open approach as it involves a smaller incision and causes less disruption to the lumbar muscles, avoiding the risk of muscle damage.

Radiofrequency surgery for spinal tumors and kyphoplasty can both be done in a minimally invasive fashion, resulting in a speedy recovery with fewer post-operative restrictions. Lumbar fusion surgery is also done this way but can take longer to recover due to the rate of bony fusion occurring.

Patients should be cautious of sudden movements in the first week after surgery. Wound care, pain management, and avoiding addictive opioids are important aspects during this time. Additionally, for the first 3 months, long drives and extended periods of both seated and upright positions should be avoided. Lifting should also be avoided during this period. Further, dietary changes to reduce inflammation and enhance healing can be attempted.

Your surgeon will monitor your recovery after the surgery and provide care instructions on when it is safe to resume normal activities. Generally, you should be healed within a few weeks.

Wound Care

When recovering at home, proper care must be taken for surgical incisions. Infections can exacerbate postoperative pain and prolong healing, so the incision must be kept clean. Per the instructions of your surgeon, follow the home care steps. If you see signs of infection, such as fever, redness, excessive drainage, or puffiness, get in touch with your physician as soon as possible.

Physical Therapy

Shortly after spinal surgery, physical therapy will begin while in the hospital and then be continued when returning to your residence. During this process, implemented by a trained physical therapist, you will build strength and mobility until reaching or even surpassing your pre-surgery health and well-being level.


It is essential to allow your body adequate rest post-surgery. Rest allows your body enough energy to aid the healing process. Hence, make sure you are providing your body with enough rest for it to be able to recover properly.

Other tips for faster recovery from surgery

• Implement light stretching and physical activity in order to help maintain flexibility and muscle strength.

• Avoid lifting heavy objects or engaging in strenuous activities that could strain the back area.

• Follow a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and protein-rich foods to aid with healing.

• Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water throughout the day.

• Participate in relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing exercises to reduce stress levels.

• Avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time and make sure to change positions often to avoid stiffness in the back area.

• Wear comfortable clothing and supportive shoes while engaging in light activities or when moving around the house.

• Maintain good posture while sitting, standing, and walking in order to reduce pressure on the spine.

• Elevate your legs while lying down in order to reduce pressure on the lumbar spine.

How to Deal with Pain after Minimally Invasive Back Surgery

This minimal surgical approach typically requires a smaller incision, which can result in a decreased need for pain medication and reduced recovery time as compared to traditional approaches. Additionally, there may be fewer side effects associated with this type of surgery.

The usage of opiate medications is currently high in the United States. Limiting exposure to these medications can reduce the risk of negative impacts.

Incisions that are necessary for procedures can result in some level of discomfort or pain, and your surgeon will address these concerns appropriately.

Following spine surgery, patients may benefit from a brief course of physical therapy to increase mobility and develop exercises that can reduce the risk of recurrent back pain. During minimally invasive spine surgery, the low back muscles are unlikely to be damaged, thus making the rehabilitation process shorter. Some patients can do certain postural and stretch exercises by themselves, which helps them to begin rehabilitation while also working towards resuming their usual activities.

When Can I Return to Work After this Minimally Invasive Surgery?

When you can go back to your job after spine surgery depends on various aspects. Consider if your job involves heavy lifting or prolonged sitting, as well as whether light or limited duty is an option. These factors will determine when you can resume your usual job responsibilities.

Minimally invasive procedures involve making small incisions, which leads to relatively quicker recovery time compared to traditional spine surgeries. Your lumbar muscles also remain largely unaffected. As a result, you can usually resume work within weeks following the surgery.

It is possible to minimize risks, pain, and recovery time associated with spine surgery by opting for a less invasive approach. Researching potential surgeons can ensure efficient treatment and a smooth return to physical activity levels.

Ready to get back to your daily routine? Take the first step towards a successful recovery after minimally invasive spine surgery with these simple tips! Also, working with a board-certified neurosurgeon that you trust can help ensure a successful minimally invasive spine surgery.

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