Healing After Back Surgery: What You Need to Do
When you are facing back surgery, it is natural to feel apprehensive. Will the surgery be successful? How long will it take to recover? What can you do to ensure a successful surgery and a speedy recovery?
Although no two back surgeries are alike, there are things you can do to prepare before and after surgery to help ensure a successful outcome. Here are some tips to help you heal after back surgery.
Why Do You Need Back Surgery?
One common reason for back surgery is a herniated disc, also known as a “slipped disc.” Herniated discs occur when the disc’s jelly-like soft center bulges out through a tear in the disc’s outer layer, which inflames and irritates the nerves in your spine. Surgery like a microdiscectomy can remove the small fragments of disc, bone and ligament to free the nerve.
Another reason you may need back surgery is spinal stenosis, which is a condition that occurs when the spaces in your spine narrow, causing the bones to press on the nerves. Spinal stenosis can lead to pain, numbness, and weakness. Surgery can widen the spaces in your spine, relieving the pressure on the nerves.
Have realistic expectations about your healing process.
If you’re expecting to go back to doing your everyday routine right after receiving back surgery, you’ll be disappointed to learn recovery is far longer. Sometimes, a full recovery can be up to three months. During that time; your goal is to strengthen your back muscles again, which means lots of walking and building of the spine muscles.
You will likely need to take some time off from work to recover. Depending on which type of back surgery you receive will determine how long it takes. For example, if the back surgery is a fusion and laminectomy, the total recovery time could be up to a year.
Your doctor may also have you referred to a physical therapist to put you on a physical therapy regimen.
Most people feel better after a few weeks and can return to normal activities from a few weeks to a few months. However, it is essential to remember that everybody heals differently. Some people may take longer to recover than others, and recovery times will vary depending on the type of surgery.
Be patient and give your body the time it needs to heal properly.
You may also need to modify your activities and how you do things to avoid putting too much strain on your back. For example, you must take it easy after back surgery and not push yourself too hard. Instead, focus on gentle activities that will help you regain strength and flexibility. Post-back surgery exercises include walking, swimming, or doing yoga.
Your doctor may also want you to try the following:
- Riding on a stationary bike with a straight spine between 20 to 30 minutes
- ball exercises
If you start to feel pain, stop what you’re doing and rest.
Follow your doctor’s orders and attend all follow-up appointments.
Your doctor will likely give you specific instructions on caring for your incision and what activities you should avoid in the first few weeks. You must follow these instructions. Additionally, you will need to take it easy for a few weeks and allow your body to heal, avoiding strenuous activity, lifting heavy objects, and bending over.
You will likely have a follow-up appointment a few weeks after your surgery. At this appointment, your doctor will check on your healing and give you any additional instructions. You must attend this appointment so your doctor can ensure that you are healing correctly.
Recovering from back surgery can be a long and challenging process. However, you can do certain things to help ensure a successful recovery:
- Following your surgeon’s instructions and attending all follow-up appointments is essential.
- Keep your back as mobile as possible, and do some gentle exercises to strengthen your back muscles.
- Be patient and give yourself time to heal. Back surgery is a big deal.
Physical Therapy After Back Surgery in Everett, Wa
We offer physical therapy for back injury rehabilitation here in Everett. Please reach out to us if you have any questions about our therapy. We accept most insurance. Call 425-347-8614 for more information or to setup your appointment.