The spine specialists at the Southeastern Spine Institute always try non-invasive treatment before considering surgery, but sometimes surgery is the best (or only) option. Once you and your spine doctor have agreed on surgery to relieve your back pain, you should discuss what to expect during your back surgery rehab even before you enter the hospital.
During rehab, you’ll be under enough physical and emotional stress. Stress following back surgery can be as debilitating as the surgery itself if you’re not prepared. So before your operation, review the list of things to make your recovery easier with your spinal surgeon.
Back Surgery Rehab Tips
The recovery process begins with an introduction to your physical therapist, who’ll help you return to full mobility with guidance from your doctor. You’ll also have access to pain medication and detailed instructions about when to take it. And you’ll need a list of items to have at home to make your back surgery rehab a little smoother, such as:
- Slip-on shoes with non-skid soles
- Ice packs
- Prune juice or other over-the-counter laxatives
- A grabber
- Heating pad
- Extra pillows
- Toilet set riser
- Shower chair
Your rehabilitation specialist may add a few other items to your list, such as a set of stretch bands or a large pilates ball. Your insurance policy may cover many of these items, especially if your physician orders them. You may want additional items, however, even if they aren’t prescribed. If this is the case, take a minute to call your back surgery rehab team to find out if an item will adversely affect your recovery. One such controversial item is a cane.
Cane Pros and Cons
After an initial period of rest, possibly just a few days after your surgery, your doctors will encourage you to get up and walk. Walking is one of the best exercises for your entire body. A cane can provide you with the stability you may need if you feel a bit unsteady on your feet after surgery. But using a cane may not be in your best interests. Consider the pros and cons:
A cane is:
- Relatively inexpensive
- Easy to carry with you into public places like a restaurant
- Easier to store than a clunky walker
- A fashionable accessory
- Often covered by insurance
A cane also:
- Requires instructions to use it properly
- Can be unsafe on certain surfaces
- Can slip out from under you, causing you to fall
- Can slow down your back surgery rehab by not allowing certain muscles to get stronger
- Eventually will change your gait if you use it too long
Consult a Specialist
Discuss your concerns about balance and walking before your back surgery rehab begins so you can be properly prepared. The fewer appliances you have, the stronger you will become. But if you and your doctor believe a cane can add the courage you need to get up and walk during your rehab, then by all means use one.
Just be prepared for the day your rehab specialist takes your cane away. You’ll appreciate it later, when you can walk freely with no more back pain, even though those first few steps without your cane may be tentative. Remember that you’ll return to full strength sooner when you choose to follow your doctor’s orders.