Pain, to some extent, is often an unavoidable part of spine surgery. This is why a natural concern for someone preparing for a spine-related procedure, even if it will be a minimally invasive one, is the amount of discomfort that may be experienced. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to questions about post-surgery pain because of the many factors involved. Still, there are some general guidelines that can give you a better idea of what to expect in terms of pain after spine surgery.
Because of the use of anesthesia, discomfort is usually minimal or nonexistent during the actual spine-related procedure. The anesthesia may also be specific to the spinal segment being operated on. Even with a situation like this, discomfort is usually not too much of an issue.
Once the anesthesia wears off, you may notice an increase in pain following spine surgery. This can happen for many different reasons. However, it’s usually because your body will be healing from the incision(s) and other processes involved with the procedure.
On the other hand, patients who’ve had surgery to address a structural or mechanical source of pain usually notice a decrease in discomfort post-procedure. For instance, if they’ve had artificial disc replacement surgery, Santa Monica patients may see the discomfort related to the damaged disc go away after surgery, since nerves are no longer being irritated—although there may still be discomfort experienced related to the surgery itself. Pain could also stem from muscles or other soft tissues that needed to be cut or moved out of the way.
The first week after your spine surgery is when you’ll likely experience the most post-procedure discomfort, but it will be fairly well controlled and manageable with medication. You’ll also be given instructions about such things as what kind of activities you can safely do and how to handle bathing and other common tasks. As long as you keep your surgeon’s recommendations in mind, you should see a gradual decrease in your discomfort beyond the first week. It’s important to let your surgeon or regular physician know if you’re experiencing any pain that’s new or suddenly worse. This could be a sign of an infection or failed surgery.
Generally, pain tends to be more bearable for spine surgery patients if they know what to expect before having their procedures. It can also be helpful to be as prepared as possible before your surgery takes place, which includes knowing what you’ll need to do once your operation is over. Achieve these goals by:
• Asking questions specific to your type of surgery
• Preparing your home in advance so you don’t have to excessively reach or bend
• Following post-surgery instructions
• Taking medications as directed
• Sticking to post-surgery rehab and therapy routines
For many patients, pain after spine surgery is often short-lived. As your body heals and you do the work that goes along with post-procedure rehab and physical therapy, you’ll likely reach a point where daily discomfort naturally and steadily decreases and quality of life improves.
Patients requiring spine surgery can reach out to The Spine Institute for an expert opinion or to ask questions about a specific surgical procedure. If you’d like an in-person consultation with a Santa Monica spine surgeon who has years of experience performing all types of back surgery procedures, call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an appointment.