Seniors who opt for spine surgery to relieve chronic back pain often face challenges that can range from the need for more complex procedures to increased risk during the surgery itself. The recovery period also presents added challenges, often requiring additional care and preparation.
Seniors often have coexisting conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, which can make it difficult for bones and tissues to heal following spine surgery. Older patients also have an increased risk of developing blood clots or experiencing nerve damage during or after surgery.
Immediately after surgery, patients are usually asked to stop taking current medications that may interfere with painkillers they’ll need to take. Going off certain meds can increase inflammation and complicate the healing process, or worsen existing conditions.
Seniors typically have longer hospital stays than younger patients. However, the average hospital stay is about the same across all age ranges when minimally invasive spine procedures are performed.
Constipation is a common post-operative issue for seniors. Reduced activity, a change in diet, and the narcotic pain medications required following spine surgery can further exasperate the problem. Having medications like laxatives and stool softeners on hand to reduce or treat constipation if it occurs can be helpful during the recovery process.
If seniors have preexisting mobility issues, getting the exercise necessary to stimulate muscles following spine surgery may present some challenges. A physical therapist familiar with issues common among seniors can often recommend modified exercises or therapy options to compensate for limited mobility.
Additional support at home is often required for senior patients. If family members can’t provide extra supervision during the recovery period, a temporary stay in a senior care facility may be worth considering.
Older patients tend to have a better experience with endoscopic procedures. Since smaller incisions are required, there’s less stress on muscles supporting the spine. Regardless of the type of spine surgery a senior patient needs, careful observation and advance preparation for the recovery period can increase the odds of seeing positive results.
If you or a senior family member would like more information on surgical options to relieve back pain, reach out to The Spine Institute Center in Los Angeles at (310) 828-7757. We’re leaders in motion-preserving treatments as well as fusion and spine decompression surgery in Los Angeles. Call today and schedule an in-person consultation.