The Southeastern Spine Institute

Expect to take a little longer to recover after back surgery.

When you receive a diagnosis, you may wonder first if you need surgery to correct the problem that’s causing your back pain. Be assured that the spine doctors at the Southeastern Spine Institute resort to surgery as a last resort. There are conditions, however, that require back surgery.

You may need back surgery if:

  • You’ve undergone alternative treatment for six months or more with little or no relief
  • You have a loss of bladder control
  • You only have one or two discs that are degenerated
  • You are young enough to withstand the procedure

While back surgery can prove effective for patients of any age, recovery tends to be more difficult when you’re over 60 or in otherwise poor general health. For every senior, healing from surgery is slower than it is for younger patients. Your body needs to be able to deal with the rehabilitation, and elders are more susceptible to complications following back surgery.

Participate in Your Recovery

You can take steps to reduce the risk of complications and improve the rate at which you heal after back surgery, no matter your age. Proper nutrition, for example, is vital to ensure rapid healing. Follow a healthful diet to optimize your recovery.

  • Protein gives your body the building blocks its needs to regenerate damaged tissue. Include lean meats and fish in your daily diet.
  • High doses of sugar can put you at a higher risk of developing an infection after back surgery.
  • Counteract constipation, which is common after back surgery, by drinking sufficient fluids and eating food high in fiber such as beans, whole grains and raw vegetables and fruit.

The sooner you begin physical therapy, the faster you will recover. So even if it hurts, begin getting up and walking as instructed, often the day after your surgery. Closely follow the doctor’s physical therapy orders to avoid atrophy and a slower recovery.

The Joys of Aging

The fact is that you become wiser as you get older — and your body processes slow down, especially when it comes to healing. And, for the most part, it is out of your hands. No amount of exercise or nutrition can counteract some of the effects of aging.

Wounds from surgery are slow to heal because your body produces less collagen, which is the source of tissue regeneration and cell development. Your bones rely on a gene called COX-2 that plays a significant role in bone formation. And this is yet another material that slows way down in production with age. Stem cell functions are compromised with age as well, which slows down the healing process following back surgery.

But all the news is not bad. With a rigorous post-surgery physical therapy process, as much as you can bear, and a healthy diet, you have a very good chance of recovering to live pain-free for many years. A positive attitude helps too, with age-appropriate expectations. You may feel great, but chances are you won’t be tooling around town on a skateboard any time soon after back surgery.