Category: Surgery Recovery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: February 29, 2016
Caring for your spine doesn’t end the moment you walk out of the surgical center after your operation. Depending on your operation, you may have days or weeks of physical therapy and rehabilitation ahead of you, and you’re going to want to put your body in the best position to successfully heal. In order to do that, there are some habits you’ll want to pick up – and some you’ll want to avoid – in the wake of a spinal operation. Here’s a look at some healthy habits you’ll want to consider after undergoing spine surgery.
Practice Proper Posture
It can be difficult to get comfortable in the first few days after spine surgery, but you’ll want to make sure your seated position isn’t jeopardizing your spine health or hardware. Try not to slouch on the couch, and keep your head positioned directly above your shoulders and your shoulders above your spine. Keeping good posture will avoid excess stress on your recovering spine.
This is dependent on your specific surgery and your doctor’s instructions, but for most minor operations, your back will experience better healing if you move around a bit in the days after an operation. Many patients find that they are more comfortable if they avoid sitting for extended periods after an operation, and this also helps to ensure you don’t have prolonged periods of poor posture. Also, consider adding mild PT/rehab sessions to your daily regimen if recommended by your surgeon.
Watch Your Diet
Your diet is important for a number of reasons, especially after an operation. For starters, as we mentioned above, your body is in a weakened state after surgery, and a diet full of vitamins and minerals will ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs to aid in recovery. Secondly, junk food and excessive sugar can contribute to inflammation in the body, which can lead to painful flareups in your back. A poor diet can also contribute to weight gain, and your body may not be capable of handling a heavier load so soon after an operation.
Mind Your Sleep Schedule
Continuous sleeps is very important after a spine operation, but many patients struggle to achieve a restful eight hours. Discomfort from the operation plays a role in a person’s ability to get continuous sleep, but you may unknowingly be sabotaging your chance at a good night’s sleep. Practice good sleeping habits and you’ll find yourself falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer. Habits to consider include: Avoid naps throughout the day, making the bedroom as dark as possible, keeping electronic devices out of the bedroom, avoiding caffeine or exercise before bed, and going to bed at the same time each night.
Ditch Cigarettes and Alcohol
As we detailed in a previous post, smoking can cause numerous problems with your spine, and it also inhibits healing. Smoking damages otherwise healthy blood vessels and prevents oxygenated blood from flowing as freely to certain areas of your spine. Healthy, oxygenated blood is what spurs the healing in your spine, so it’s easy to see how smoking can complicate the equation. As for alcohol, it can make it difficult to achieve restful sleep, and it can contribute to inflammation in the body. When mixed with painkillers, alcohol can cause harmful or even fatal complications, so it’s a good idea to avoid alcoholic beverages until your doctor is satisfied with your recovery.