Roughly 500,000 Americans undergo spinal surgery each year and back pain is one of the most common issues that doctors see and treat surgically. Here is how to recover from these 4 types of spine surgery.
The spine can be prone to a variety of issues, and for some of these problems, there is a surgical procedure that can improve your symptoms. When someone says they have had “back surgery,” they could be referring to any type of procedure that involves the spine.
4 Types of Spine Surgery
As we mentioned, back surgery is one of the most common types of surgery. Because of this, there are many types of spine surgery for different issues.
Here is everything you need to know about four of the most common types of spine surgery along with some tips on making your recovery as smooth and effective as possible.
1. Spinal Fusion
A spinal fusion is one of the most common types of spine surgery, and it’s often done when someone has back pain with movement. The surgeon will fuse two or more vertebrae together so they don’t move against each other anymore. Because there is no more motion, any pain caused by the movement will be relieved.
Because a spinal fusion eliminates some of the motion in the spine, it can’t be done in various areas along the spine, so it might not eliminate all pain if it’s coming from different vertebrae in various areas of the back. Sometimes a spinal fusion is combined with a laminectomy or other spinal procedures.
After a spinal fusion, it will generally take four to six weeks to be able to do regular household activities, and it can take six months or even up to a year for you to be completely back to all of your more strenuous activities. You might need to wear a back brace and you will probably need some degree of physical therapy during orthopedic surgery recovery.
During a laminectomy, a surgeon will remove the lamina, or the bony part of the vertebrae in the area that is causing pain. This opens up some room along the spinal column and can help relieve any pressure that might be caused by a tumor, bone spurs, or other issues affecting the spine. Bone spurs might also be removed during this time.
After a laminectomy, you’ll generally be able (and encouraged) to get out of bed and walk the same day. It usually takes about three months to recover, but depending on your previous condition, your age, the type of job you have, and other factors, it could take up to a year for complete healing.
Those with a herniated disc might have a discectomy. This is the removal of the herniated disc that is causing pressure or pain. It is usually done in the lumbar area, or the lower back. These types of spine surgery are less invasive than a laminectomy or spinal fusion surgery, and sometimes it is even done under local anesthetic.
After a discectomy, it will probably be uncomfortable to sit, but that discomfort will get better over time. You’ll be encouraged to get up and walk very soon after the procedure. Most people are able to resume their jobs within one or two months of the surgery depending on what type of job they have.
4. Disc Replacement
If you have degenerative disc disease, you might have a disc replacement. This is generally only done if nonsurgical methods haven’t helped. As in with discectomy, the problem disc is removed; it is then replaced with an artificial disc.
Recovery for a disc replacement is usually about three months, as your body has to adjust to the implant in addition to healing from the surgical procedure.
Tips for Recovering From Spinal Surgery
With any type of spinal surgery, there will be some common recommendations for ensuring that your body is able to heal and get back to its normal state as soon and as completely as possible. As with any other type of procedure, you should carefully follow your surgeon’s instructions to maximize your healing. Here are four tips for a smooth and comfortable spine surgery recovery.
Tip #1: Rest
First, you will need to get plenty of rest. This does not mean that you will be on bed rest; you will simply need to modify your activities to allow your spine to heal. You will not jump back into work, even if you work in an office, right away.
In most cases, you won’t be comfortable spending a lot of time in one position, and that includes sitting. You also might not be able to lift objects for several weeks or even longer. Bending, twisting, and other motions will not be advised for some period of time.
Tip #2: Physical Movement
Second, you will need varying degrees of physical activity. It might sound counterproductive (especially considering that the first tip is to rest!), but after surgery, you will need to move around in order to prevent complications such as constipation and, much more seriously, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
With that being said, you will have to avoid any motions that could disrupt the surgical site, like bending at the waist or lifting objects weighing more than a few pounds.
Tip #3: Proper Diet
Keeping your energy levels up with proper nutrition after surgery is vital. You’ll need healthy calories to heal; remember that your body will be using a lot of energy to recover from surgery.
You’ll also need to avoid gaining weight during your recovery period, so relying on convenience foods, fast food, and sugary or fatty “comfort foods” is a mistake. Focus on getting plenty of fresh produce, lean protein, and whole grains. These foods will also help keep your digestive system in motion, preventing constipation, which is common after surgery.
Tip #4: Physical Therapy
Finally, you might need physical therapy after your surgery. It is important to keep your appointments and to do the prescribed exercises in between your therapy sessions.
You also might need to wear a back brace for some period of time; it might take some getting used to, but do your best to comply with your doctor’s recommendations.
The Importance of a Recovery and Wellness Center
As you can see, depending on the types of spine surgery that you may undergo, your recovery will be different. At Pearl Recovery Retreat, dedicated staff members will be encouraging you to get up and move around while providing a haven of rest and relaxation in between.
Your nurse can also evaluate your surgical site and watch for any signs of infection and will coordinate your transportation to your doctor if you need to go back for a check-up in a day or two immediately following your surgery.
Regardless of which types of spine surgery you had, our team is dedicated to providing you with the highest quality nutritional plan. We even provide world-class meals and smoothies that will perk up a flagging appetite and help you get in all of the nutrients you need.