July 23, 2015
What You Need to Know About Recovering From Spine Surgery
When non-surgical, chronic back pain treatment has failed, surgery may be the logical next step. For your spine surgery to be a success, it is important to prepare you and your home for the recovery process.
Your doctor should provide you with complete recovery instructions, but knowing what you will need post-surgery helps you to be an active participant in your treatment.
Your recovery time will vary depending on your overall health, the spine procedure you are undergoing, and how well you take care of yourself after surgery. Getting plenty of rest, doing the exercises your doctor recommends, and avoiding injury post-surgery are the keys to a speedy recovery.
Asking for Help
If you are used to being active, then asking for help from friends, family, or the staff at the hospital is likely out of your norm. The more willing you are to ask for and accept help, the less likely you are to injure yourself and delay your spine surgery recovery.
Have someone ready to pick you up and take you home when you are released from the hospital. Enlist a friend or family member as your caretaker for assistance when you need to stand up, navigate your home, or retrieve something from another room.
Preparing Your Home
Recovery from spine surgery requires that you rest and refrain from activities that could jostle or overextend your back like bending over, reaching overhead, twisting sideways, or climbing stairs. Preparing your home ahead of time can help you avoid further damage to your healing spine:
- If you sleep upstairs, bring your bed to the ground floor to avoid tripping on stairs.
- Remove rugs and other obstacles on which you could trip or slide.
- If you will be wearing a back brace, buy soft, lightweight T-shirts to prevent chafing.
- Have movement aids like an extendable grabber and shower chairs in place.
- Install a toilet riser to keep from bending your back too
Recovering from spine surgery is often more dull than it is stressful, so remember to stock up on magazines, books, movies, and other entertainment to keep yourself from becoming restless. Tossing and turning or wandering around can lead to strain or injury.
Adjusting Your Wardrobe
Post-surgery, wear clothing that is both comfortable and functional. Choose clothing you can easily put on without straining or overextending your back. Soft, loose cotton clothing will keep you cooler and more comfortable during long periods without moving.
Decrease your risk of falling by investing in non-slip soles and flat, comfortable footwear. Extra cushioning in the soles of your shoes can relieve pressure on your knees and hips, which helps keep your back from straining to overcompensate.
Participating in Rehabilitation
The application of ice—especially in the first 48-72 hours after surgery—can bring down swelling and lessen some of your pain. Once you begin physical therapy to rebuild you back strength, icing your muscles can prevent some of the resulting soreness.
Physical therapy is a big part of the recovery process, and the more you actively follow through on your doctor’s recommended exercises and treatment, the more effective they will be. Therapist- or doctor-approved, gentle exercise speeds your physical recovery while also making you an active partner in your recovery, which is good for your mental well-being.