What to Expect During and After Complex Spine Surgery

 What to Expect During and After Complex Spine Surgery

Complex spine surgery can provide much-needed relief for debilitating pain and other symptoms associated with many spine-related problems. But as its name implies, it is complex — and that means it’s important to know how to prepare for your surgery and what to expect during your recovery.

While we can treat some spine issues conservatively or with more minor surgeries, we typically reserve complex spine surgery for issues like:

A leading complex spine neurosurgeon in Roseville, Minnesota, David Chang, MD-PhD, DABNS, is skilled in advanced surgical techniques to help our patients get the expert treatment they need for optimal spine function and relief of long-term pain. 

If spine surgery is in your future, continue reading to learn what to expect before and after your procedure.

Preparing for your surgery

Getting ready for surgery weeks in advance of your appointment can help you feel more at ease during your recovery and more comfortable, too. Plus, some changes help ensure you’re as healthy as possible before your surgery date arrives.

Quit smoking

Smoking can interfere with healing, increasing your risk of complications. Quit at least a few weeks before your surgery. We can suggest resources to help.

Lose extra pounds

If you’re overweight, Dr. Chang may suggest you lose a few pounds before surgery. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risks of complications and supports a faster, more comfortable recovery.

Get your home ready

Your movements will be limited after surgery, so prepare your home ahead of time. Invest in a toilet riser and a grabber tool to avoid bending over. Prepare meals in advance and stock your pantry with ready-to-eat snacks. 

Buy yourself a pair of slip-on shoes, and keep items you use daily — your toothbrush, cups, plates, and silverware — within easy reach.

Modify medications as needed

You may need to temporarily stop some medications, like blood thinners, or adjust their doses in the days leading up to your surgery. The same is true of some over-the-counter medicines and supplements. 

Let Dr. Chang know about all the products you take, including any vitamins or nutritional supplements.

What to expect during recovery

Your recovery experience depends on the type of surgery you have, your overall health, and other personal factors. But in general, there are some aspects of recovery that are similar for all patients.

Pain management

After surgery, Dr. Chang may prescribe medications to help you manage pain and prevent infection. Take your medications as prescribed, and call our office if you have any concerns or if you notice side effects, like constipation or itchy skin.

Other things you can do to relieve pain include using ice packs to minimize inflammation and practicing relaxation techniques, like deep breathing or guided meditation. Walking is another good way to relieve stress, once Dr. Chang says you’re ready for it.

Sleep problems

Sleep problems aren’t uncommon in the first month or so after spine surgery. As your pain subsides and you become more mobile, your sleep will improve, too. Until then, try these sleep tips from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Limited activity

Right after your surgery, your activities will be limited to give your spine a chance to heal. Don’t overdo it or push yourself too far. Follow the advice of Dr. Chang and your physical therapist.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy begins right after your surgery and continues throughout the course of your recovery — typically for several months. Your therapist develops a plan specifically for you to help relieve pain and regain a normal level of activity. 

Follow-up visits are critical

After your surgery, you continue to see Dr. Chang so he can monitor your recovery. It’s important to keep all your appointments. If you need to change an appointment, call us right away so we can reschedule you.

Learn more about complex spine surgery

Dr. Chang has extensive experience performing complex spine surgery, and he’s an excellent resource if you have questions or concerns. To learn more, call us at 651-219-7292 or request an appointment online today.

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