Spinal Cord Tumor

Considered rare, spinal tumors are slow to develop and sometimes difficult to detect because symptoms often mimic more common sources of spine-related pain. Since this is a rare source of back pain, you’ll probably have some questions as you prepare for recovery following spine surgery. Los Angeles patients may face some unique challenges following any type of surgery, but there are some experiences shared by many individuals who have a spine tumor removed.

Initial Post-Op Recovery

As is the case with most types of spine-related procedures, you can expect to be taken to a recovery area immediately after spine tumor surgery. You will be carefully monitored as the effects of the anesthesia wear off, and you’ll likely be given pain medications to minimize your discomfort.

Post-Surgery Movement

As soon as your doctor determines it’s safe, you will be encouraged to move around. This could occur anywhere from a few hours to a few days after surgery, depending on how well your body heals. You may be sent home or to an inpatient rehab facility. This decision is based on factors such as:

  • How extensive your tumor removal surgery was
  • Your overall health and physical capabilities
  • How much assistance you’ll likely need post-surgery

Customized Rehab and Physical Therapy

Most patients can start a rehab or physical therapy program within a week or so after surgery. You will work with a trained therapist who coordinates with your surgeon to determine the type of plan to recommend for you. The main purpose of physical therapy is to restore mobility, flexibility, coordination, and range of motion.

Your therapist will also set individual goals for you based on how well you are progressing. Another important part of rehab is recommending pain management techniques to ease you off medications. Common post-surgery pain management methods include:

  • Massage therapy and other forms of manual manipulation
  • Hot and cold applications
  • Ultrasound
  • Electrotherapy techniques such as TENS units

Preparing for Return to Work

Returning to work after spine tumor surgery will depend on the nature of your work. Generally, most patients can return to work within 3 to 6 months, although this can vary. For instance, if you have a physically demanding job, you may have to wait until you’ve progressed enough with physical therapy to be able to safely perform your expected work-related duties. Even when you do return to work, you may need to make appropriate modifications to activities.

Increasing Activity Level

As for your other normal activities, your ability to get back to your regular routine with hobbies, daily habits, and sports you like to play depends on your general lifestyle and experience with rehab. Most patients are encouraged to slowly return to their normal activity level at a comfortable pace. However, you’ll want to avoid pushing yourself too much. Additional steps that may help with recovery include:

  • Starting with milder forms of exercise that work the core muscles, like water-based activities and yoga
  • Being mindful of posture, including sleep positions
  • Watching your diet and avoiding foods that tend to trigger inflammation (e.g. refined grains, sugary snacks, and oily foods)

You’ll also have regular follow-up visits and routine exams to look for signs a tumor has returned. While this is a rare occurrence, it’s important to spot any signs of a new growth as soon as possible. If regrowth happens, you may respond well to radiation therapy. Radiation therapy may also be recommended if the entire tumor couldn’t be safely removed during your surgery.

Spine tumors are just one source of chronic pain affecting the spine. If you are experiencing pain in your neck or back and are considering surgery, reach out to The Spine Institute today. We specialize in a wide variety of spine procedures, from ALIF surgery to spinal decompression. Los Angeles residents can call 310-828-7757 today to take the first steps toward living a pain-free life.