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6 Tips for Spine Surgery Recovery

Spine surgery procedures can range from non-invasive surgery to highly in-depth surgical procedures that require extensive recovery time. Regardless of how complicated your spine procedure, it is best to know what to expect when it comes to your surgery recovery.

The best way to prepare for recovery is by talking to your spine surgeon ahead of time, so you and your caregiver can prepare prior to surgery. Below you will find six tips for spine surgery recovery, however, it is best to consult your doctor on the following:

  • When it’s appropriate to use certain aids
  • How often to use them
  • How long you should continue using them
  • When you should ask for help

Six tips for spine surgery recovery are as follows:

1. Prevent Constipation
Unfortunately, constipation is a common complaint during spine surgery recovery. Whether it is a result of the surgery itself or from the medicines you’re taking. Eating healthy is important, including plenty of water.

Narcotic pain medication are a significant cause of constipation after surgery, and talking to your surgeon or his physician assistant is best for a preoperative plan. Laxatives with sena and docusate tend to work the best. Fiber products are the least effective against narcotic induced constipation. There is a newer medication, Movantik, that works well, but oftentimes requires insurance pre approval for use.

2. Manage Your Pain
When undergoing spine surgery, it is common to need a pain medication to help with pain during recovery. If you need a prescription filled, it may be possible to have it filled ahead of time so that it is available for you when you arrive home. At times, you may only need acetaminophen or another over-the-counter pain reliever. However, you do need to have it available and close at hand during your spine surgery recovery. It is recommended to stay ahead of the pain, so follow the instructions provided by your surgeon.

3. Wound Care
It is very important to take care of your incision during your spine surgery recovery. To avoid infection, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter. You may have dissolving stitches and a simple covering, but since it can be difficult to see the incision, make sure your caregiver has been provided the instructions as well and knows who to call in case of complications.

4. Rest and Recovery
After spine surgery, rest and sleep is key. Although you may find it difficult to sleep comfortably, sleep should be high on your priority list. Sleep helps your body heal, so it’s essential to have several aids on hand such as extra pillows and/or a body pillow. Also, it is wise to keep blankets, water and anything else you may require to get comfortable within arm’s reach, especially if you’re not supposed to be moving around too much.

5. Ice and Heat
Ice and heat are both recommended ways to aid in recovery from spine surgery. Prior to surgery, be sure to have Ice packs and heating pads on standby. Your spine surgeon may have specific instructions on how to apply ice and heat to reduce inflammation and/or to encourage mobility. Others may instruct you to do whatever feels best to you at the time. In general, cold aids in the prevention of swelling while heat helps pain relief and encourages healing.

6. Walk It Out
You may be surprised how quickly you are encouraged to be up and walking following spinal surgery. Although spine surgery recovery may include a lot of bed rest for healing, walking every hour for 5 minutes during the day keeps your blood moving and limits the chance of a leg blood clot. Ensure that you have the necessary walkers or canes that you’ll need to get out of bed safely. Additionally, clear your hallways and walking areas of loose rugs that could cause tripping hazards and make sure your pets are out of your way.

The best way to proceed with your recovery is to discuss what to expect ahead of time with both your spine surgeon and your caregiver.

Let Pacific Spine Specialists Help!

If you have made the decision to undergo spine surgery, Pacific Spine Specialists can help. Our expert spine surgeon, Dr. Keenen, specializes in minimally invasive techniques that aid in reducing spine surgery recovery times. Learn more or schedule a free MRI review today.