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What to Expect When You’re Fully Recovered

By AGE2B team
February 9, 2022

Recovering from Spinal Surgery

What to Expect When You’re Fully Recovered

For patients who have chosen to have back surgery, setting aside the time to get ready for the post-surgical recovery period is a smart idea and will, for the most part, enhance their experience when they return home. The treating doctor and nursing staff will give out guidelines and solutions for things like pain prescriptions and non-intrusive treatment, yet there are a few reasonable things that patients and families need to know about that should smooth the transition from clinic to home.

Many people who are undergoing recovery from spinal surgery can return to work when they are fully recovered unless they work at jobs that are not recommended for individuals with back or spinal injuries or disorders. Your doctor will instruct you when and if you will be able to return to work.

In most situations, physical activity during recovery from spinal surgery is necessary and even helps patients recover. Vigorous activity or strenuous exercise should be avoided. Pay attention to how you are feeling, especially related to your pain.

  • For the first several weeks of recovery from spinal surgery, you may need help with your daily activities such as getting dressed and bathing. You may tire quickly. This is normal.
  • Slowly try to resume your normal activities. Walking is usually recommended during recovery from spinal surgery. Start with short walks and gradually increase the distance you walk to one or two miles daily. Your doctor may order a physical therapy program for you during recovery from spinal surgery.
  • If your doctor has ordered a brace for you, learn how to apply it and find out when you are to wear it before leaving the hospital.

Back Surgery Recovery: Sleeping

Getting enough constant and continuous rest causes the body to recover faster. Limiting low back strain through better body posture can enhance rest. After back surgery, it’s okay to rest in whatever position is comfortable. Some want to sleep on one side or the other with a pillow between their knees and additionally behind them to help the back. Here is another position that takes stress off the back after a spinal surgery:
  • Lay face up on the bed
  • Lift the upper back/bear/head – this is anything but difficult to do with a customizable bed, however, it can likewise be accomplished on a mattress with supportive pillows
  • Place a pillow or a blanket under the back of the knees, so the hips and knees are a bit bent.

Back Surgery Recovery: Physical Activities

Following most surgical procedures on the spine a few general rules apply concerning your physical activities during your recovery from spinal surgery:

  • Activities should not cause any pain. This includes pain that comes on later in your recovery from spinal surgery.
  • During your recovery from spinal surgery, avoid any activities that could jar your spine.
  • Activities should not place your joints at the outside limits of their range of motion.
  • Activities should be enjoyable during your recovery from spinal surgery.

Back Surgery Recovery: Restrictions

How successful your procedure is will largely depend on how well you follow your surgeon’s instructions during recovery from spinal surgery. As time goes by, you will hopefully experience a significant decrease in your pain and a great improvement in your activity tolerance. It’s important to keep your expectations realistic during your recovery from spinal surgery. There will most likely be a few restrictions, for example:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause bleeding and interfere with the healing process of bones. For this reason, if you had a spinal fusion, do not use these medications for at least six months after surgery unless instructed otherwise by your doctor.
  • You will not be able to drive for at least two to four weeks after surgery, or until you discuss this with your surgeon.
  • Avoid standing or sitting for extended periods during your recovery from spinal surgery.
  • Do not lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk (10 pounds).
  • Do not twist or bend at the waist during your recovery from spinal surgery.
  • Do not do any yard-work or housework until you see your surgeon for your first follow-up visit. This includes ironing, vacuuming, loading or unloading the washer or dryer or dishwasher, mowing the lawn, weeding or gardening.
  • Do not engage in sexual activity during recovery from spinal surgery until your first follow-up appointment unless your surgeon has given you other instructions.
  • Do not smoke and avoid second-hand smoke during recovery from spinal surgery. Smoking slows the healing process and increases the risk of complications such as infection.

Back Surgery Recovery: Post-Operative Bracing

It will be useful to inquire as to whether a back support will be required after surgery and provided that it is, what style is needed. Some braces are elastic and flexible while others are custom molded. If a bigger brace is needed, it might be useful to have some fitted cotton shirts accessible that can be worn under the support. The shirts enable the support to fit cozily against the skin with less irritation and they also help with absorbing sweat. Knowing the style of the support will help decide if the patient can be able to get it on and off alone or whether they will require help all the time.

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