4 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Spine Surgery Recovery

Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

spine surgery recovery

Everyone wants to make a speedy recovery after spine surgery, but sometimes we do things that knowingly and unknowingly sabotage our chances of a quick rehabilitation. The problem is that most people are undergoing spine surgery for the first time, so they don’t know exactly what activities to participate in and what they should avoid. Today, we’re going to share four activities that you may be doing that are hurting your chances of making a quick recovery after spine surgery. Here are four activities and lifestyle choices that should be avoided after spinal surgery.


This one is pretty obvious, as smoking has been linked to numerous health conditions, like cancer, heart disease and emphysema. Not only does smoking impact your overall health, but it also negatively affects your spine. As we mentioned in a previous post dedicated to the effects of smoking on spinal surgery, smoking increases the risk of complications during and after your surgery, and it also restricts the flow of healthy, oxygenated blood to the surgical site, which hinders recovery.

Weight Gain

Gaining weight isn’t necessarily a cognitive choice, but it is still something that should be avoided. This is easier said than done, however, as spine surgery is likely going to limit your physical activity in the short-term, meaning it won’t be as easy to burn off those excess calories. If you’re just sitting on the couch eating junk food, you’re going to put on weight, and those high-calorie foods can cause inflammation to flare up in your back causing discomfort. That pain can make you not want to exercise or participate in physical therapy regimens, effectively prolonging your rehab. Also, since your back is used to shouldering a certain amount of stress, weight gain can overstress the spine while it’s in a fragile state, leaving you susceptible to aggravation or hardware failure.


You need to stay focused on your rehab in the days and weeks after your rehab, and alcohol will only act as a depressant. Additionally, alcohol is never supposed to be mixed with painkillers, and odds are you’ll be prescribed some opioids to help manage discomfort after spine surgery. Avoiding alcohol will also help you keep weight off while you recover.

Excessive Inactivity

The key to a successful rehab after spine surgery is to combine passive and active recovery techniques. You may be asked to stay in bed for a day or two after spine surgery, but eventually you’re going to have to take an active role in your rehab. Ask your surgeon about physical tasks you can do to expedite healing. Start slow, and work your way up. Even if it’s just getting out of bed and walking to get the mail, movement and exercise aids in your recovery through improved blood flow and muscle strengthening.

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