If conservative treatments for your back pain don’t yield results, you must undergo back surgery to get back to your normal, healthy self. And while the Southeastern Spine Institute boasts some of the most experienced and competent back surgeons in the country to guide your recovery, you still have to endure two to 10 weeks of rehabilitation as you recover from back surgery.
Eventually, you’ll be working and playing at 100 percent. After you recover from back surgery, however, you should take every suggestion and follow every guideline to prevent hurting yourself again. Back surgery and the ensuing recovery is not a picnic you want to attend more than once.
Recipe for Recovery
To recover from back surgery fully and maintain your continued good health, develop a lifestyle that is best suited to your back problems and your previous illnesses. Your back surgeon and physical therapist provide a list of exercises ideal for your condition. Do them! The physical work strengthens the surrounding muscles to support your spine and help you avoid further surgery.
Other strong recommendations:
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen (if your primary doctor agrees) to tackle slight inflammation when you strain your back. Rest for a couple days to allow the swelling to subside.
- Maintain a healthy weight for your height and body type. Extra weight, especially around your mid-section, puts pressure on your already tender back. Lose the weight, eat a balanced diet and pay attention to your calcium intake — it’s the mineral most likely to help you build strong spinal bones.
- Find a sleeping position, either on your back or on your side with a pillow between your knees, that places the least amount of strain on your back. And get sufficient sleep each night. Lack of sleep causes stress that eventually affects your back.
- Develop a practice of daily stretching. Even if you’re not an athlete, walking and moving around requires that your muscles are loose. Stretching in the morning prepares your body — and your back — for the day’s activities. Stretching at night relieves your back of any strain you may have accumulated during the day.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking reduces circulation in your body, and your back needs sufficient blood flow to stay healthy.
- Replace your old chairs with sturdy seats that provide lumbar support, especially if you have a desk job. Add other ergonomic accoutrements too, like an ergonomic keyboard, mouse and telephone headphones.
- Monitor how and how much you lift and carry at any one time. For example, if you carry a purse laden with heavy objects, your back will feel the stress. Lighten your load and consider a cross-body strap that doesn’t place as much stress on one side or your back. Practice proper lifting techniques at all times.
Guarantees Are Difficult
Even with the best spinal surgeons, the success rate for back surgery remains at about 95 percent, depending on your operation. No matter how diligent you are as you recover from back surgery, there is a slight chance that you’ll continue to experience back pain. The most common reason is that your diagnosis was incorrect, so you may have to undergo additional tests and another surgery to make it right.