From enjoying your daily walks to playing with your kids in the backyard, it’s understandable to want to get back to your normal activities as quickly as possible following spine surgery. When it comes to driving, however, there are some precautions and guidelines you’ll want to keep in mind before getting behind the wheel, or in the passenger seat, again.
Driving and Your Spine
The main concern with driving after spine surgery is the pressure that can be placed on your back during certain motions or movements, such as having to quickly step on the brake and the subsequent push forward often experienced with that action. Prolonged sitting while driving, or even as a passenger, can also put added stress on your spine and aggravate muscles supporting your back. Initially, the simple act of getting in and out the car can also pose a risk of inadvertently twisting or turning at the wrong angle.
Listen to Your Doctor
Your doctor will provide specific instructions for driving before you leave the hospital or during your pre-surgery meeting. Regardless of the type of surgery you have, don’t expect to drive yourself home from the hospital. Even minimally invasive spine procedures require some time for the surgery site to heal.
Precautions You Can Take While Driving
After given the okay by your doctor, start with shorter drives until your spine is fully healed. If you feel uncomfortable driving alone, consider asking a friend to do the driving or temporarily taking advantage of ride programs, if you’re eligible for such options. Additional precautions to consider when driving after spine surgery include:
• Using lumbar support cushions and pillows
• Wearing a back brace that’s recommended by your doctor or pharmacist
• Avoiding the use of vehicles with high steps, such as trucks and SUVs
As a general rule, most patients are permitted to drive 2-3 weeks following surgery. However, specific guidelines will be based on the type of surgery you have and the outcome of the procedure. Report any new or sudden pain, including lingering discomfort you may feel later in the day or overnight after driving, to your doctor.
If chronic back pain is interfering with everyday activities, learn more about your options for pain relief from an experienced physician at The Spine Institute. Our team of specialists can tell you more about spinal fusions and fusion alternatives like lumbar artificial disc replacement during an in-person consultation. Call today at (310) 828-7757.