Do you have an upcoming spinal surgery? It’s important to know what you’ll need to do once you are discharged from the hospital so you can recover as quickly and safely as possible. Spine surgery can help correct a wide variety of problems, but it is important to know that the surgery is only one piece of the puzzle. Being prepared can make all the difference in the outcome, as can adherence to recommendations and taking any medication as prescribed. Be aware of the areas under your control to help accelerate the post-operative recovery process.
You can recover from spine surgery more quickly and efficiently if you:
- Learn how to position yourself: Your neck or back will feel better sooner if you know how to position your body as you heal. For instance, you should ask your surgeon about the best sleeping position for you, how to get in and out of bed, and how to sit properly so you don’t put extra stress on your spine. Also, it is recommended avoiding sustained positions longer than 20-30 minutes, especially sitting. Your doctor may prescribe a back brace to help support and stabilize your body during recovery which can limit movement and help you heal.
- Seek adequate pain relief: A prescription pain medication will be provided, but you can also alleviate pain by changing positions, resting, or applying an ice pack to the involved area (for 10-15 minutes every hour as needed and using a barrier such as a pillowcase or thin towel between your ice pack and skin). Notify your orthopedic surgeon if you experience a fever or night chills, or if you have new onset or worsening pain and weakness. If your incision opens, make sure to call your doctor to prevent infection. Follow your surgeon’s directions as to when you should have any sutures or staples removed.
- Exercise regularly: Although every neck/back surgery patient is different, generally you should gradually reestablish a walking program as prescribed by your doctor. Daily physical activity can help you build strength and increase muscle tone. Your doctor will give you detailed, individualized discharge instructions, but most patients are asked to avoid bending, twisting, or lifting activities as you heal.
- Eat a healthy diet: Eating well is very important for successful recovery from spinal surgery. Not only does a good diet help you keep your weight under control while you are less active during the healing period, it also helps with organ and joint maintenance. By eliminating processed foods, you can heal more efficiently and get back to your regular activities much sooner. It is a good idea to meal prep or even freeze some meals in advance of your surgery, so you won’t have to worry about cooking during your early recovery.
- Participate in rehabilitation: Your Doctor may prescribe a postoperative physical therapy program that significantly enhances the healing process. Other benefits include an overall feeling of wellbeing, as well as preventing and correcting compensatory movements to avoid problems in other areas. Your physical therapist will recommend safe exercises, educate you in proper body mechanics and advise of any activity restrictions.
Contact Us at Comprehensive Spine Institute
If you have spine surgery on your calendar, you must be prepared to know what to expect in advance, so you can heal on schedule and get back to your everyday routine as soon as possible. We can help. To learn more about post-operative recovery from spine surgery, please contact us today.
This blog is only a general guideline for healing from spine surgery. Make sure you are in direct communication with your orthopedic surgeon about the specific guidelines you should follow after your surgery.
To book an appointment with one of our orthopedic surgeons, please call (727) 300-2537.