Recovering from back surgery is an ongoing process that takes time. That’s why the CNI staff will be here to help you every step of the way during your recovery. Following your back surgery, you will be provided with helpful instructions for your recovery period. Let’s take a look at several practical things patients and their families can do to provide a smooth post-op neck and spine recovery.
The use of hot and cold for your recovery is an effective and inexpensive pain reliever. Apply an ice pack to numb the aching area; this will go a long way in the easing pain and discomfort. Heat can also be beneficial in relieving tension and/or muscle pain in other regions of the body and may also prove to be helpful in the later stages of recovery.
Getting enough continuous, uninterrupted sleep can help the body to recover faster. Not only is the quantity and quality of your sleep important, but comfortable body positioning can minimize back strain and improve the quality of your rest. After your back surgery, it is generally fine to sleep in whatever position is most comfortable for you. However, some suggest sleeping on one side with a pillow between your knees and/or behind you to support the back.
For a successful recovery, it is essential that you follow the postoperative rehabilitation program as closely as possible. Appropriate exercise and stretching can significantly enhance the speed of the recuperation process and will also decrease the chances of future episodes of pain.
Although it may seem difficult at first, getting up and moving around will prove to be beneficial. Daily walking is the best exercise, so don’t be afraid to get up and to take a stroll. Pace yourself by increasing your distance a little each day, setting a pace that avoids fatigue or severe pain. Make sure you wear good, supportive shoes like running shoes that are not worn out. Be sure to ask your doctor what specific activities you should do and the ones that should be avoided.
To prevent constipation caused from medications and decreased activity, eat a fibrous diet and drink plenty of water.
Your original dressing is usually removed while you’re in the hospital or the day after you’re discharge. Once this is done, you may take a shower, but certain precautions must be taken. For at least three weeks after your surgery, do not let the water from the shower hit the wound directly, and do not submerge the wound under water such as in a bath tub or hot tub. If the wound is wet, gently pat it dry— do not rub it dry.
Your CNI neurosurgeon will want to schedule follow-up office visits to check on your recovery progress and to determine if any other issues need to be addressed. If you are having trouble with managing pain, be sure to discuss this your CNI neurosurgeon as soon as you can.
Remember that recovery is a process, so be patient with yourself and your body. Usually, the issues that are slowest to resolve themselves are numbness and tingling. Keep in mind that surgery puts a lot of stress on your body’s reserves and that pain medications can interfere with sleep patterns and also may cause some agitation. Don’t be alarmed by fatigue, as this is a part of the healing process. If your pain is persistent and/or severe, please call your CNI physician so that we can ensure that you have the best recovery possible.