More than 1.6 million spine surgeries are performed each year in the United States, helping patients relieve back pain, neck pain, and other symptoms. Today's surgeries use state-of-the-art techniques and technology to achieve long-term relief, while also supporting a faster recovery.
Still, despite all those advances, many patients are a little nervous about their upcoming surgery. That’s natural.
A lot of anxiety comes from not knowing what to expect during their healing and recovery phase. David Chang, MD-PhD, DABNS, believes strongly in educating patients so they can plan and prepare for their recovery. Here’s what he wants you to know.
While different spine surgeries can have different recovery profiles, these five tips help ensure the healing process goes smoothly, so you can relieve pain and restore mobility in as little time as possible.
Many back surgeries use very small incisions, which is great for minimizing scars. Small incisions also reduce the risk of infection, but they don’t eliminate that risk entirely.
Change your bandage as often as directed (or arrange to have someone do it for you). Avoid baths and only shower when Dr. Chang says it’s OK. Monitor the area for excessive redness or swelling, which could be signs of infection.
You need to curtail bending and lifting activities for a few days to a few weeks after your surgery. But you also need to be mindful of activities that involve twisting or turning movements of your spine.
If you’re unsure of any activities, ask Dr. Chang before your surgery to avoid straining your spine while it’s still healing.
During the early days of recovery, activity limitations might make it tempting to order takeout or rely on high-calorie convenience foods. But these foods also make it easier to put on pounds, and that can put more strain on your healing spine.
Plus, many of these foods promote inflammation, another factor that can inhibit healing.
Instead, stock up on healthy snacks and make some easy-to-reheat meals before your surgery. After discharge, meal prep will be a lot easier, and you’ll be able to avoid unhealthy eating patterns.
We customize your physical therapy, at-home exercises, and other rehab routines based on your surgery, your health history, and other factors. While it may be tempting to take a day off, doing so can increase your overall recovery time — sometimes dramatically.
Once you understand what your rehab plan involves, make a mental commitment to see it through. And of course, if you have any questions about your rehab therapy, we’re just a phone call away.
This post is about what you can do right after your spine surgery to improve your recovery experience. But to really plan for a smooth recovery, you should begin planning ahead of time, days or weeks before your surgery date.
Remember, your mobility will be limited. Before surgery, arrange to have a friend or loved one on hand to do household chores or run errands in the early post-op days.
If you need to limit climbing stairs, set up a bedroom area on the first floor before surgery, so you are ready to rest and relax as soon as you get home. You might also want to plan a few activities you can do while you’re resting, like reading or doing puzzles.
Dr. Chang is a top-ranked complex spine neurosurgeon in Roseville, Minnesota, skilled in the latest spine surgery techniques. While he provides patients with comprehensive recovery guidelines, it’s also important to discuss any concerns you may have, so you can feel confident and empowered throughout your recovery.
To learn what else you can do to prepare for spine surgery and recovery, call or book an appointment online with Dr. Chang today.