Tips to Aid Your Recovery From Lower Back Surgery
July 24, 2017 by: Luis Tumialan MD
From a chronic dull ache to acute pain when you assume certain positions, lower back pain, also known as lumbago, is extremely common. In many cases, the underlying cause of the pain isn’t serious and it improves naturally over the course of a few days or weeks. However, sometimes the pain is long-lasting or comes and goes. When this happens, and the pain is caused by a specific, underlying cause, surgery may be necessary to address the problem and permanently alleviate your symptoms.
There are several different types of lower back surgery. These include:
- Lumbar decompression surgery: this is the removal of a small portion of the bone over the nerve root and/or disc material from under the nerve root so that the nerve has more space.
- Spinal fusion: the joining of two or more vertebrae so that there is no movement between them.
- Balloon kyphoplasty: this is a minimally invasive treatment that uses orthopedic balloons to elevate fractured vertebrae, returning them to the correct position so they can be stabilized.
What can lower back surgery be used to treat?
Lower back surgery can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including:
- Spinal stenosis – a condition characterized by narrowing of the spinal column, which compresses the nerves inside
- Sciatica and/or a slipped disc – this is where a damaged spinal disc places pressure on a nerve
- Spinal injuries – fracture or swelling that places pressure on the nerves
- Metastatic spinal cord compression – a condition where cancer spreads to the spine and presses or on the cord or nerves
Recovering from lower back surgery
Recovery from lower back surgery can be affected by a range of different factors, including which type of surgery the patient has had.
One of the most important things that you can do to ensure you have the smoothest, fastest and most successful recovery from your lower back surgery is to take adequate steps to prepare for the post-surgical recovery period. Most patients find that this enables them to relax and take the recommended rest. Some of the things that you can do ahead of your surgery includes:
- cooking and freezing meals so that you don’t have to prepare food in the days after your surgery.
- ensuring your house is clean and tidy before you go in for your surgery.
- arranging childcare if required.
- taking the appropriate amount of time off work.
Getting the right pain management after your surgery will also help you with the recovery process and effective pain management is just as crucial for successful psychological recovery as well as a physical one. You are certainly going to be in some discomfort in the early days, and your surgeon may recommend a combination of pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications to help keep you as comfortable as possible. By staying ahead of the pain, you will be able to improve the way you feel and manage the recovery process much better.
Bending and lifting
Depending on the type of lower back surgery you have had, your surgeon may ask you to avoid bending and lifting for a pre-determined amount of time after your procedure. It is imperative that you follow any guidance and recommendations given to you by your surgeon. Failing to do so could negatively impact on the success of your surgery, and could cause you to suffer from post-operative complications.
Rely on others around you
Many of us are fiercely independent, and the thought of relying on others for help isn’t a pleasant one. However, the recovery period after back surgery can be difficult, especially if you are trying to manage on your own. You won’t be able to drive for several weeks, and you may struggle to move around in the earliest days after your procedure.
One of the best ways to aid your recovery is to take advantage of all offers of help from those around you – whether it is someone close to you who can help you shower and dress, to a kind neighbor who offers to bring you some groceries. Every bit of help that you can get during your recovery will help to make the process smoother, so let the people that care support you. Contact Spine Surgeon Luis Tumialan MD for more information.
If you are struggling with pain, weakness, loss of function, or other symptoms of spinal complications, contact Dr. Tumialán's office today.