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Hi, I am Dr.Iqtidar one of the experts on justanswer.com and will try my best to answer your question. Sorry to hear about your aunt's injury and that she couldn't make recovery through a trial of painkillers alone. The recovery time depends on type of surgery but assuming this procedure is Fusion and spinal instrumentation, which is most commonly done in whiplash injuries, the initial recovery time is fairly quick which is around 24 hours which means the patient is mobile after 24 hours but the pain can take several weeks to subside which is dealt with by prescribing painkillers. Pain usually occurs on movement but should go away with time. Complications are rare and some can be preventable. Regarding questions to ask the surgeon, main questions should be what's involved, complications of surgery, type of anesthetic, any risk of DVT or clots, pain management options, mobility aids and how quick they feel she can go home. When she can drive again and if in a relationship when she can resume sex. Home recovery would be suited for her provided there are no problems, so that should be discussed.
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