Even with advances in technology and the increased use of minimally invasive techniques, spinal surgery still isn’t something you recover from the moment your operation is over. While the exact extent of your recovery will vary based on the type of procedure you had done, your overall health, and other circumstances, it typically takes several weeks or months to fully recover. For this reason, you’ll want to take some steps to make the transition back to life at home safer and easier following spinal surgery.
Before your surgery takes place, do an inspection of your home so you can remove potential fall hazards like loose throw rugs. If you know you won’t be able to go up and down steps easily, you may want to set up a temporary sleeping area on the first floor if you have a multistory home. Pre-surgery prep can also involve:
• Doing laundry and other household chores you may not be able to do on your own for a while following surgery • Cooking healthy meals you can reheat later to make meal prep easier • Getting some books or movies from your local library so you’ll have ways to keep yourself occupied as you recover • Making arrangements in advance for family members and friends to lend a helping hand with certain tasks after you get back home
It’s common for spine surgery patients to be given pain medications or antibiotics to ease discomfort and prevent infection. Just make sure you understand how to take these medications and what combinations to avoid to reduce interaction risks, and pay attention to restrictions on driving due to the possibility of drowsiness. Also, let your doctor or pharmacist know about:
• Over-the-counter medications or supplements you may be taking • Any questions or concerns you may have about your post-surgery meds • Known allergies
If you know your mobility will be somewhat limited as you recover, ask your Los Angeles spine surgeon or the surgery center staff if they can refer you to an occupational therapist or local home health agency. These are resources that can help you with things such as doing a proper inspection of your home to spot and correct potential problems. Some home care agencies can also help you out by:
• Arranging for transportation for follow-up doctors’ visits and errands • Installing handrails or lifts to make life easier around your home • Performing in-home therapy based on your surgeon’s instructions
Spine surgeons and their staff generally take every possible precaution to reduce the risk of post-surgery infection. Even so, it’s important to be aware of the signs that suggest you may have an infection. By acting early, you may be able to avoid having to be readmitted to the hospital. Common signs of post-surgery infection include:
• Lingering redness or tenderness around the surgical site • Unusual wound discharge • Excess heat around where you had your surgery • Fever and/or chills
Don’t forget about social interactions. Because your activities may be somewhat limited as you recover from spinal surgery, the time spent at home can sometimes become isolating. Still, it’s possible to find ways to stay connected with family members and friends during your post-surgery period. For instance, you might have friends over for a group meal or make some spine-friendly adjustments so you can participate in certain activities. Even going for a short walk with a neighbor or friend could do wonders for your mood.
Recently, incredible advances in spine surgery techniques have made it much easier to recover from back surgery. Whether they have minimally invasive microsurgery or lumbar artificial disc replacement, Los Angeles spine surgery patients usually get better in less time and with less pain that they would have only a decade ago. Even so, you should plan ahead and take the steps listed above to make sure your recovery goes as smoothly as possible. The experienced professionals at The Spine Institute can give you all the information you need to prepare to make your recovery as safe and comfortable as possible. Call us today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.