Is Surgery Making Your Spine Tingle?

If a doctor recommends spine surgery, the response is almost always one of concern. With chronic pain at an all-time high, more and more patients require back surgery. However, the spine is seen as a sensitive part of the body, and patients are often skeptical of spinal surgery. This skepticism is understandable as back surgery carries some risks, including failure to relieve pain. However, a smooth recovery protocol can minimize these risks and help patients enjoy a better quality of life.

Recovery matters

Advancements in techniques and technology have helped spine surgeons perform successful spine surgeries over the years. The recovery timeline depends on the type of spine surgery. For instance, a discectomy or laminectomy can take 4-6 weeks for a full recovery. Spinal fusions, on the other hand, require several months to fuse. Before and after surgery, the spinal surgeon will discuss all recovery steps. The process will involve pain management, movement management, and physical therapy.

First, keep still

Immediately following surgery, patients will be encouraged to limit movement as much as possible. Sudden bending, twisting, or lifting can place stress on the spine. The result is often more pain and a longer recovery. Keeping the torso still and upright during daily activities is challenging. To limit movement, prepare the house or recovery location for safe use before surgery. Keep essentials within reach and relocate to a space where amenities are easy to access.\

Next, keep pain in check

During the first 2 weeks after surgery, pain at the incision site and inflammation can occur. The goal during this time is proper pain management so patients can recover safely. The doctor will prescribe pain medication and may recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) when appropriate. Take all medications as prescribed to reduce pain during the recovery period. Patients can also benefit from placing ice packs on the surgical area periodically to reduce swelling.

Now work on physiotherapy

After 2 weeks of resting, the patient will usually move on to physical therapy sessions. Physical therapy helps stabilize the back, increase mobility, and strengthen surrounding muscles. Weekly exercises, stretching, and unique movements will all help with the healing process. The therapist may also incorporate massage, temperature therapy, and other techniques for pain management.

Can you recover before surgery?

A patient can influence the outcome of surgery before entering the operating room. Adopting proper lifestyle habits and making simple changes ahead of time can speed up healing. For example, doctors recommend quitting smoking, alcohol, and blood thinning medication before surgery. These changes, combined with specific exercises to strengthen the spine, can improve the outcome of surgery.

Enjoy a pain-free spine

Surgery can help people with painful spinal conditions that do not respond to conservative treatment. Spine surgery is a complex process and requires highly qualified surgeons. The success of surgery, however, often hinges on proper recovery. Limiting movement, appropriate medication use, and physical therapy are important approaches to ensure a pain-free spine after surgery.