How to Best Recover for Spine Surgery when You’re 65+

Spine Surgery Recovery for Elderly

Individuals who are planning on undergoing spinal surgery are probably experiencing mixed emotions. On one hand, the prospect of finally achieving relief from pain and decreased mobility can be wonderful, but on the other hand, the thought of going through a surgical procedure can be intimidating. When patients are over 65, it is important to approach the post-operative period with a firm resolution to carefully follow the necessary steps in order to achieve a successful recovery.

Stop Smoking

Along with the other ill effects that come with smoking, nicotine inhibits bone fusion and mending. As an individual age, the healing process becomes naturally slower as well. Because older individuals are at a much greater risk of experiencing complications that are related to delayed or arrested healing, the habit of smoking should be quit to promote bone healing even further.

Keep Pain Managed

The physician or spine surgeon will specifically prescribe a guideline that directs the post-operative patient to increase activity with an incremental approach.  These guidelines often differ depending on surgical procedure. For instance, if a traditional fusion surgery is performed, recovery time will be longer and thus differ from a less invasive, motion preserving spine procedure. If pain is allowed to get out of control, the activities will be difficult to perform and recovery will slow down. If the pain medication that was prescribed is ineffective or wears off too quickly, the doctor should be notified to see if an alternative can be tried.

Monitor the Incision

Infection is a complication that is a risk when any surgery is performed. Patients are given specific instructions related to incision care, and they should be performed diligently. If any increased pain at the site is experienced or redness, swelling or discharge appears, the physician should be notified. Seniors will likely have to enlist in the help of a family member or caregiver during this time to ensure proper monitoring and healing.

Listen to the Body

Undergoing surgery is a significant stressor on anyone’s body but can be more difficult when people age. It is imperative that seniors do not overdo activities in order to allow the body time to heal. Sleep is also an important factor in the mending process, and if a patient feels tired, he or she should take time out to rest.

If you or an aging parent or loved one is considering surgery to correct a spinal problem or to relieve pain from an advanced spinal condition, learn more about safety and after care by scheduling an in-person consultation with one of our board-certified spine surgeons. Our advanced spinal center is located in Santa Monica, CA, and we can also help you determine if surgery is in fact the option that provides the best chance for a possible outcome. Call (310) 828-7757 today.