It can take a long time to recover from spinal surgery, and it’s important to know what steps you need to take to make the process more comfortable for yourself. It can take six months to a year to heal from common spine surgeries, note WebMD and MedlinePlus. During that time, use these 12 tips to make recovery easier.
Take Short Walks
Walking is the primary exercise to enjoy during recovery, and it might help you heal faster. Keep your walks short for the first two weeks, recommends MedlinePlus.
Sit in Sturdy Chairs
When sitting down, make sure you choose a sturdy chair that lets you keep good posture, states WebMD. Change positions without twisting your spine, and get up after about 30 minutes.
Avoid Smoking and Using Other Tobacco Products
Try to quit smoking cigarettes and using any other form of tobacco, especially after a spinal fusion, warns MedlinePlus. Using tobacco can slow down your body’s healing processes.
Protect Your Spine While Sleeping
Find a sleeping position that protects your spine, states WebMD. Side sleepers should have one pillow under their heads and one between their knees. Back sleepers should put one pillow under their knees and one under their heads.
Take Short Naps
Mild exercise, such as walking, is important, but so is resting. Take short naps every day to help the healing process, suggests WebMD.
Take Pain Medications as Prescribed
Your doctor will likely give you a prescription for pain medications. Fill the prescription and take the medication before the pain becomes too strong, and avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, notes WebMD.
Go to Physical Therapy
Your doctor may prescribe physical therapy and a back brace to help you perform activities with less pain. Be sure to go to these appointments and wear the back brace as directed, states MedlinePlus.
Check Your Incision for Infection
Check the surgery site every day to ensure that it’s healing properly and isn’t infected. Signs of an infection may include redness, swelling, warmth and leaking fluid, according to MedlinePlus.
Keep the Surgical Area Dry While Showering
It’s important to keep your incision dry, especially during the first week after your operation, states MedlinePlus. Cover it with plastic wrap while you’re in the shower, and don’t let water spray on it. You may need to have someone help you.
Don’t Bend at the Waist
When you’re recovering from spinal surgery, it’s important to avoid bending at the waist, notes MedlinePlus. Instead, bend at your knees and squat if you need to pick something up. Better yet, have a loved one reach it for you.
Avoid Lifting Heavy Objects
You should only pick up light objects during your recovery period if your doctor says you can lift anything at all. Avoid carrying or lifting anything more than 10 pounds, and don’t lift anything over your head, notes MedlinePlus.
Avoid Driving Without Your Doctor’s Permission
You won’t be able to drive right after your surgery because you twist your spine when you turn to check mirrors. You can start driving if you get your doctor’s permission and are taken off your pain medications, according to WebMD.