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Life After Surgery

By AGE2B team
January 31, 2022
Those who have back and neck problems all want to get well, get their lives running, and hopefully get back to work. Surgeries focus on decreasing pain to help people with these problems back to normal. Normally, proper exercise and care are all that’s needed but sometimes surgery is required to reestablish the full function of our bodies.

In the Hospital

Physical therapy and exercise will probably be a part of your life after surgery in the hospital. Sometimes occupational therapy is also recommended. Therapy will help you regain your strength and ability to perform your usual activities.

You will most likely be gotten up out of bed shortly after your procedure and helped to walk by the nurses or the therapists.

After the Hospital

You may still be having some pain when you leave the hospital. Manage your pain using the medication your physician recommended. Some pain medications can cause drowsiness or dizziness, so don’t drive or drink alcohol with these drugs and take them exactly as prescribed.

Your life after surgery should include walking. Start with short walks and gradually increase the amount of time you spend walking. Avoid hills, steps, and uneven ground. Exercise, as part of your life after surgery, will actually help decrease your pain by increasing the blood flow to the area that is healing. It will also help you regain your strength.

Continue any other exercises as you’ve been instructed by your therapists to increase your flexibility.  Practice good posture and avoid bending, twisting and lifting. Your life after surgery should include a healthy diet to help your body heal, and plenty of fluids to help avoid constipation that can be caused by some pain medications.

Life after surgery also includes watching for signs of infection at your procedure site. If you have any of the following signs of infection, call your surgeon right away:

  • A fever of 101 or higher
  • Increased pain
  • Increased redness or swelling at the site of the procedure
  • Increased or foul drainage from your wound or incision

On-going Self-Care

Keep all follow-up appointments with your doctor. If you have had spinal fusion surgery, your activities will probably be restricted during the first several months after your operation to ensure the bones heal properly.

Sometimes patients who have had spinal surgery wear a back brace to help keep the back in the correct position. Life after surgery, in this case, involves wearing the brace exactly as directed by your surgeon.

As you resume your life after surgery, gradually resume your normal activities, within the limits set by your surgeon. Some patients are able to return to work within several weeks. If your job requires a lot of physical activity, you may be off work for longer. 

Recovering from surgery on your spine and returning to your usual routine life after surgery takes time. It won’t happen overnight so be patient with yourself! One of the most important things you can do is keep the lines of communication with your doctor open. Tell him how you’re feeling and what your expectations for life after surgery are. With a rehabilitation plan that is right for you, you will be able to return to your previous way of life after surgery and too many of the activities you enjoy.

Useful Advice

Life after surgery can be hard at first, follow these to help you recover faster after a back surgery.
1. Understand your rehab well. It’s important that you talk to your surgeon before undergoing surgery. Ask about what it will be like in the following days or weeks post-surgery. Ask what things you need to have like a walking aid or if you won’t be able to work for a few days/week so that you can prepare and make the necessary arrangements.
2. Have a healthy diet. After surgery, it’s likely that you’ll be staying in bed most of the time. Because of this, you might get tempted to order food or microwaving dinners which can further stall your recovery. Poor diets can cause inflammation and make movement painful. Ask your healthcare provider what the healthy options are so that you can prepare.
3. Rest and Relax. A part of the recovery process is taking good proper rest. Your body will need it especially in the first few days of the surgery, however, you should also do movements and exercises as soon as your body starts to recover because inactivity may slow down the recovery process.
4. Scar Care. No matter what kind of surgical procedure you underwent, it’s important to monitor your scar in the days following your surgery. One of the leading causes of re-hospitalization after undergoing spinal surgery is infections. Practice good scar care habits to prevent infections from happening.

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