Back surgery procedures run the gamut from basic, non-invasive surgery to in-depth procedures that require extensive recovery time. Either way, it’s best to know what to expect with your specific back surgery recovery by talking to your spinal doctor or surgeon ahead of time, so you and your caregiver can have things ready. The six most common aids are presented here, but the team of spinal experts at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) can tell you:
- When it’s appropriate to use certain aids
- How often to use them
- How long you should continue using them
- When you should ask for help
Expectations and Suggestions
Expect to receive a list of healing aids and how best to incorporate them in your recovery from back surgery. The six most common aids are:
- Constipation Prevention
Constipation is unfortunately a frequent companion during back surgery recovery. Whether a result of the surgery itself or from the medicines you’re taking, you’ll need to eat healthy meals, with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables, including:
- Fiber-rich foods. Stocking your fridge and pantry before surgery is a good idea.
- Pre-made meals. Consider stocking your freezer with them for easy reheating.
- Constipation reliever. Have a recommended stool softener or other over-the-counter remedy on hand and ready to use.
- Water. Drink lots of fluids, but water is best.
- Pain Management
Pain relief is necessary regardless of your surgery type. While you may only need acetaminophen or another over-the-counter pain reliever, you do need to have it available and close at hand during your back surgery recovery.
If you need a prescription filled, you should arrange to have your caregiver get it, either ahead of time or shortly after you arrive home. You want to have the medication when you need it, especially during your first post-operative week. Plan ahead if you can.
- Wound Care
Care of your incision site has to be part of your back surgery recovery plan. Follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter, as you don’t want to be worried about an infection. You may have dissolving stitches and a simple covering, but since you can’t see the incision on your back, make sure your caregiver knows what to do… and whom to call in case of complications.
- Rest and Recovery
Sleeping comfortably should be high on your priority list. Sleep helps your body heal, so it’s essential to have several aids on hand:
- Extra pillows. Consider investing in a body pillow as well so that you have something to support your body that can be easily manipulated into the best position.
- Different pillows. Have both hard and soft pillows in bed with you because you’ll need various types of support at different times.
- The essentials. Keep blankets, water and anything else you may require to get comfy within arm’s reach, especially if you’re not supposed to be moving around too much.
- Ease into Care
Ice packs and heating pads are old standbys when it comes to recovering from any kind of surgery. Some doctors have specific instructions to reduce inflammation or encourage mobility. Others may instruct you to do whatever feels best to you at the time. In general, cold prevents swelling while heat helps pain relief and encourages healing.
- Time to Walk
Back surgery recovery may include lots of bed rest for healing, but you’ll likely be encouraged to get up and walk around as much as possible. Walking helps you recover your mobility quicker. Ensure that you have the necessary walkers or canes that you’ll need to get out of bed safely. Additionally, clear your hallways and walking areas of loose rugs that could cause tripping hazards. And make sure your dog or other pets won’t get in your way either.
The best way to proceed with your recovery is to discuss what to expect ahead of time with both your doctor and your caregiver.