What To Expect After Spine Surgery?

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Written By Berry Mathew

Back surgery is one of those situations that can make people anxious. Whether due to an accident or a condition as complex as a herniated disc, seeing a professional back surgery specialist may be your only option. You’ll have numerous questions about what to expect, especially after the surgery. Spinal surgery is one of those life-altering things whose outcome can change the trajectory of your life. Like most people, you’ll want to know what to expect after the surgery. This is a guide about the main things to expect after the procedure.

Immediately After Surgery

Back surgery constitutes several kinds of procedures. Common ones include:

i)Spinal fusion

  1. ii) Discectomy

iii) Laminectomy

  1. iv) Spinal decompression and fusion

These are some of the common surgical procedures for back issues. They help to resolve different back problems. Depending on the type of back surgery procedure you’ve undergone, you may need to stay in a hospital bed for a few days. Pain is common after most surgical procedures. However, you won’t feel most of it as the doctors will give you painkillers as soon as you’re wheeled out of the operating room. Gradually, you’ll start to feel the positive impact of the surgery. For instance, if you had mobility issues before surgery, this should begin to resolve.

The kind of back surgery you’ve had will greatly determine how quickly you can get back to your daily activities. For example, anterior cervical discectomy is a relatively complicated back surgery that involves the neck. Recovering from it will take longer than when someone undergoes a procedure like spinal fusion. The latter surgery is part of minimally invasive spinal procedures; in some instances, patients of the latter procedures can start doing simple things like bathing themselves in as little as 48 hours after surgery.

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The First Few Weeks

On average, it takes patients about 3 weeks to experience considerable recovery after back surgery. This means that the first few weeks post-surgery are crucial. This also means that this is the period with the greatest likelihood of jeopardizing the healing process. It’s important to follow the doctor’s orders to the letter during this period. Expect your body to go into overdrive as far as healing the surgical tissues go.

Before leaving the hospital, the doctor will probably caution you about how best to take care of the incision site. This is crucial to avoid infections. You may have to book an appointment every week or two after the surgery. This will ensure that the general healing process (and the incision site) are properly monitored.

Exercise And Regular Activities

As with the general healing process, the type of back surgery you’ve had will determine how quickly you can get back to exercising and performing some regular tasks. If the procedure was not very invasive, your doctor may recommend walking as a form of exercise. This is usually a week or two after surgery. Generally, surgeons that perform such back surgeries have extensive experience managing such cases. As such, they’ll give you a good prognosis and timeline as to the likelihood of starting regular physical activities. Usually, this starts about 4 weeks after surgery. In some cases, resuming regular physical activities can take six months or more.

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Diet And Rest

As a recovering patient, it goes without saying that a well-balanced diet and plenty of rest are essential to the healing process. Your doctor will most likely recommend plenty of proteins in your diet. Proteins are biological building blocks necessary for the repair of body tissues.

Getting plenty of rest is also crucial. You want to ensure that you do not assume a physical posture that puts undue stress on the surgical site. If your doctor tells you to lie at a particular angle while sleeping, ensure to follow that order.

The First Few Months

Getting through the first few weeks after surgery is the main challenge. After that, it becomes smooth sailing as long as you stick to the doctor’s instructions. If you’ve made it past one month after the surgery without any complications, expect a great likelihood of complete recovery. A crucial part of this recovery process will involve physiotherapy. Depending on how far along the recovery process you’ve come, you may require physiotherapy once or a couple of times a week. There is a tendency in back surgery patients to avoid these physical therapy sessions. While these sessions can be uncomfortable, they are necessary for quick recovery and regaining of mobility.

Ultimately, expect slow but gradual progress after back surgery. The more you follow the doctor’s instructions, the quicker your recovery will be.