Back to Health: Tips for Recovering From Back Surgery


The decision to have back surgery is often predicated by a great deal of pain, perhaps a decrease in quality of life, or even possible further complications or health concerns. For most, the decision to have surgery is never easy, and comes with much discussion with family and friends, research, and counseling from trusted medical professionals. Part of the consideration to surgery is the recovery time and process. Discussing possible outcomes and expectation with back surgeons can help patients to better understand what to expect and how to prepare.

Perhaps the first tip is to know that there will most likely be pain and discomfort post surgery. The surgeon will probably prescribe pain medication and possibly an antibiotic to prevent discomfort and infection. If the pain is not helped by the medicine or signs of a possible infection appear, it is recommended that patients call their back surgeons and discuss options and protocols for relief and infection relief.

Along with medications being prescribed, there is a good chance that physical therapy will be prescribed as well. It is very important to follow the program and to work with both the physical therapist and surgeon to ensure that the surgery is fully realized by the physical therapy regimen and homework. In some cases, physical therapy isn’t prescribed but exercises are and they are just as important to complete as discussed. These exercises help to loosen muscles, circulate blood flow, and can also help to provide a sense of accomplishment and happiness typical to most exercise. Along with following the prescribed exercises, it is also important to avoid activities, movement, and other physical restrictions as dictated by the surgeon.

It may seem odd, but discussing how sleep will be affected, is a best tip for someone about to have back surgery. Often the back pain itself has compromised quality and comfortable sleep. Although the surgery is to help alleviate back pain and to restore quality of life, it may be that post surgery, there are still sleep considerations. The recommendations may range from sleep positions to mattress type and firmness, to additional support such as bolsters or body pillows. It is always a good idea to heed this advice as it can alleviate undue stress and prevent discomfort from poor sleep. Often the advice is to help support the back and provide the best sleep possible.

Along with medication, proper sleep and physical therapy other best practices include utilizing heat and ice packs to help manage pain and back braces. Discuss if these are appropriate for the type of pain and surgery that are under discussion. Having upfront and open conversations with back surgeons can help patients be as best prepared as possible. There are no questions that are off the table, so whatever the patient feels needs to be asked should be asked. Remember to consult back surgeons for any surgical recommendation or advice and that it best to follow their advice and counsel. A healthy back is a happy back and that is a very good thing!


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