Dr. Leipzig is a board-certified Virginia spine surgeon with over two decades of experience. For more information about spinal surgery prep, post-operative instructions, robotic spine surgery, and any other spine-related questions, contact Dr. Leipzig at our spine care office today.
What comes after spine surgery? While modern advancements and minimally invasive spine procedures have made spinal surgery less painful and more efficient than ever before, proper recovery and rehabilitation are essential to positive outcomes.
Recovery windows range from a few weeks to over a year, depending on the surgery. Rehabilitation also depends on a number of factors, including age, weight, the patient’s overall health prior to surgery, back-pain symptoms, type of procedure, and more. It’s important to know what to expect after spine surgery before the operation, so we’ve outlined the general steps below:
Every condition is different, but post-surgery begins with a short stay in the hospital. After surgery, patients will be supervised until they wake up. Patients generally will have a tube in their back to drain fluid, an IV in their arm to transfer pain medicine, antibiotics, and hydrating fluids, and a catheter to allow urine to leave the body. While rest is vital, it’s also important to begin exercise when safe to do so – physical therapy may begin as soon as 24 hours after surgery.
Regular, deliberate exercises can rehabilitate your back strength gradually so you can return to your everyday activities fully recovered. Exercise types and duration will depend on the nature of your surgery and recommendations from your orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist. In many cases, range of motion workouts and walking will be involved. Initially, you may require a walker for stability, but with consistent PT many patients soon transition to a cane. More walking means faster healing. To ensure a safe recovery, be sure to check with your therapist or orthopedic surgeon before performing any exercises.
Rest & Relaxation
Spine surgery patients need to carefully consider how they rest and relax. When you return home from the hospital it may be tempting to sprawl out on the couch, but opt for an armchair with solid support to ensure good posture and a straight back. To maintain blood flow and prevent complications, take care not to twist your spine or sit for too long. Another key aspect of healing is sleep – not only at night, but napping is encouraged. Be sure to consult with your spine physician to determine optimal pillow placement based on your sleep position.
By strategically planning your recovery, attending follow-up appointments, and following these steps for rehabilitation after your surgery, you can return to a pain-free life in a reasonable time frame. At Virginia Spine Care, we make sure our patients are prepared and comfortable before and after surgery. For more information regarding other aspects of recovery such as pain control, hygiene, wound care, and more, contact our office today.