Undergoing spinal surgery is only half the story towards regaining normal function of your body. The rest of the journey towards health depends on your recovery process. You may have had surgeries that include:
Discectomy – Surgery to partially or fully remove the disc
Foraminotomy – Surgery to create space for nerve roots
Laminectomy – Surgery to remove bone spurs to take the pressure off spinal nerves or spinal column
Spinal fusion – Surgery to fuse the bones and correct imbalance issues
Recovery from spine surgery depends upon the procedure performed and can vary from weeks to months. Recovery is also dependent on the patient’s age and general health. For example, recovery from a discectomy or foraminotomy is relatively quick (within a few weeks) but a laminectomy or fusion surgery may take a little longer. You might need up to 3-4 months before the bones finish healing and in some cases, this can even extend up to a year or so. A spinal fusion surgery might take you off work for 4-6 weeks if you are young, but it can extend to 4-6 months for older people. Recovery time is also dependent on the condition of the patient prior to surgery.
Before getting discharged, your surgeon will give you a set of instructions on wound care, pain management and physical activity as well as physiotherapy if needed.
The incision site may look red and feel numb or painful. Check it regularly to ensure it’s not inflamed or oozing extra fluid. Keep the wound dry for the first 7-10 days. Cover the site with plastic wrap if you need to shower and ensure that water doesn’t spray directly on it. Avoid smoking as it delays healing.
Your surgeon will prescribe medications for you. It’s better to take the medication before the pain gets too bad. If you are going to do any activity, take the medicine half an hour prior to it.
Don’t sit for longer than 20-30 minutes initially. Sleep in the position that causes least pain. Don’t bend at the waist; instead you should squat down on your knees to pick up things. Avoid lifting any weight including small children. Begin with short walks for the first two weeks after surgery. Follow it up with using the stairs once a day if it doesn’t cause too much discomfort. Avoid strenuous activities and sports till your doctors give you the go-ahead.
For all-round recovery care after surgery, do check out the Sita Bhateja Specialty hospital in Bangalore where the patients are counseled prior and post-surgery and given full physiotherapy support within the hospital. You are also taught how to do things differently for easier recovery.