Back surgery is rarely the first choice of treatment for back pain, but if you are in constant pain, can’t sleep due to the pain, or can’t function at your job, your doctor may suggest surgery for you. In general, there are two groups of patients who require back surgery: patients with chronic low back pain and sciatica, and people with only lower back pain who are diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. Some of the diagnoses that may need surgery are herniated discs, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, vertebral fractures, and others. This article will describe some common ways to help recover from back surgery. It is not meant to constitute or replace medical advice.
A rehabilitation plan. You will need a comprehensive rehabilitation program to regain flexibility, recondition your back and stomach muscles, and increase your endurance after your back surgery. Depending on the type of back surgery you have, the rehabilitation process may last for days, weeks or even months.
Prepare before your surgery. Make sure you have all the supplies you will need on hand. Arrange for time off from work for recovery after your back surgery, and save extra money for living expenses and medical supplies. Make certain you have enough help lined up in case you need it, including friends and family, but also consider you may need outside help, such as nursing care. If your recovery time requires you to file for short term disability, make sure you have all the forms and phone numbers you need before your surgery.
Pain management. Consult with your doctor about your pain management options for recovery after your back surgery. Find out about the risks and side effects of any medications that may be prescribed, and make sure your doctor is aware of all other medications you may be taking, including herbal supplements. Find out if you can have your prescriptions filled before your surgery, at the hospital, or delivered to your home from the pharmacy after your surgery. You may be too disabled the first few days to go out.
Home modifications. Will you need to have shower rails installed, or have a reach extender for picking things up as you recover? Make sure you have comfortable, easy to put on clothing, such as sweat pants and slip on shoes, for after your surgery. Discuss any other possible needs for your recovery with your doctor.
Get in good shape. If possible, before you have the surgery, get in as good as shape as you can. Stop smoking, lose weight, eat well and get plenty of sleep. The better condition your body is in before the surgery, the easier it will be to recover.
Physical therapy. Make sure you have a qualified physical therapist. Get recommendations from your surgeon, and check their qualifications. Your physical therapist will work with you to develop a plan that will help you recover your strength, flexibility and endurance after your back surgery.