Undergoing a spine surgery is really a big decision for patients. They may not only worry about the spine surgery but also have concerns about the recovery after surgery. The spine is one of the largest and most vulnerable body parts when it comes to surgery, but every spinal surgery doesn’t have to be a ultra major procedure.
The developing technology in the medical field made many procedures as minimally invasive surgeries where the surgeon makes only a few small cuts instead of large incisions. These procedures require less time to recover and have fewer complications than open surgeries.
Minimally invasive spine surgery is suggested if you are having any of the conditions mentioned below:
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- Spinal infections
- Spinal instability
- Disc herniation
- Degenerative disc disease
- Vertebral compression fractures
In general, unlike spinal surgeries like Discectomy, Foraminotomy, Laminectomy, Spinal fusion surgeries take a little longer time to recover. Here, Dr. Surya Prakash, one of the best spine surgeons in Hyderabad, mentioned the routine post-operative care after the spine surgery.
Wound is expected to be kept dry after the surgery. Commonly, dressing is changed on the second post op day. Subsequent dressings are done when needed only.. Usually, dressing change is not necessary after minimally invasive procedures unless the dressing material becomes wet with blood or body fluids.
One may feel pain and inflammation around the incision for a few days after surgery. Observe it every day and if you notice swelling and redness are more or draining extra fluid, feeling warm and if the incision opens up, consult your surgeon immediately.
Patients can sit and walk on the same day or next day in most of the cases after spine surgery. Usually, patients are allowed to perform certain activities according to their comfort level. This is applicable for open surgeries as well. Patients who are having other conditions might take some time to return before they can walk.
Most instrumented spine surgeries involve implanting strong titanium implants which allow immediate weight-bearing. Some Implants may not hold strong enough in case of severe osteoporotic bones. In such cases, patients might require prolonged bed rest.
Pain during recovery:
After a spine surgery pain is common so you will be given pain medication during your hospital stay. After discharge from hospital, the dosage of pain medication is reduced expecting pain reduces gradually as healing takes place. So you no need to worry about pain as medications are prescribed until you recover based on the requirement.
Sleeping after spine surgery:
After spine surgery, a patient should follow certain principles as recommended by the surgeon. Sleeping on a mattress that is firm which supports your spinal alignment is a good idea. A thin pillow is better to use after in case of cervical spine surgery. A pillow under your knees helps to relax your spinal muscles and also reduce the strain on nerves. Careful when you turn on your bed, turn your shoulder and hips together to avoid twisting force on the spine.
When you get up from the bed, first turn to the side and get up. This procedure prevents strain on the operated spine while getting up. Similarly, while you lie down, sit at your bed edge and then lie down sideways first and then turn straight on your back.
Avoid sleeping on the floor for at least 4-6 weeks particularly in case of fusion surgery. Getting up and lying down is associated with a lot of weird movements which puts extra stress on the healing spine.
Patients can perform any household activity in a sitting/ standing position after taking advice from the doctor and when they feel comfortable. Usually, there is no time limit for which they can stand or walk. However continuous sitting is not a good idea. But certain activities like bending, twisting the body, sitting on the plane floor and lifting heavy objects is restricted for a long time. The actions are restricted to prevent recurrence of symptoms and to avoid implant failure after spinal fusion surgery.
Return to regular work:
Patients involved in doing sitting jobs can return to work once they are comfortable after taking proper advice from the surgeon. People who need to travel long distances and are involved in mild laborious activities should wait for 1 or 2 months based on the surgical procedure and. Heavy weight lifting work is better to be avoided for 3-6 months.
Using of brace:
The cervical or lumbar belt is suggested in some cases after surgery to provide stability to your spine. These braces help to provide some support and also limits certain weird movements. It provides comfort to the patient and also keeps reminds the patient about the surgery. Usually, it is recommended to wear a brace around 4-6 weeks. Wearing a brace also recommended while travelling longer distances to avoid jerk movements to the postoperative spine.
Physiotherapy is often suggested after spinal surgery to improve the strength of your back muscles, improve the range of motion and flexibility. It helps heal the tissues faster in the area where the surgery was performed. Sometimes, 1 to 5 days post-surgery (inpatient) physiotherapy is recommended. Most of the patients are suggested for physical therapy between 4 to 7 weeks after discharging from the hospital.
However, patients with certain health conditions, extra weight and other medical problems may require a longer course of physiotherapy. This can also be done at your home. Electrical muscle stimulation therapy might be done in case of weakness in legs/arms for a few weeks to help the muscles recover.
Consult your surgeon if you notice any of the following conditions:
- Excessive or frequent bleeding from the incision
- Signs of infection
- Severe pain even after taking medication
- If any physically hit to the operated area
- Symptoms linked to nerve pressure, like pain in limbs, numbness, weakness, urination problems etc.
To know more information about the recovery process or if you or your family members had spine surgery and taking a long time to recover, consult Dr. Surya Prakash, a renowned spine surgeon in Hyderabad. He has more than twenty years of experience in treating various spine problems.