5 Pitfalls to Avoid when Rehabbing after Spine Surgery

Category: Surgery Recovery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: June 27, 2017

Spine Surgery Rehab

The vast majority of patients want to get back to normalcy as quickly as possible after spine surgery, but if they aren’t careful, they can end up doing more harm than good. Today, we share five pitfalls to avoid when recovering from spine surgery. If you can avoid these setbacks, we’re confident that you’ll experience a swift and successful recovery after your operation.

These tips are aimed at individuals who have undergone surgery on their spine, but they may also be beneficial to keep in mind if you are dealing with some sort of back pain and you’ve been prescribed non-surgical spinal management. Here are the five pitfalls to avoid.

1. Take It Slow

It took years for your spine to develop and strengthen into its healthy adult form, and while it shouldn’t take you years to recover, it’s unreasonable to think it will fully recover in just a few days after surgery. We understand that you’re worried about missing six weeks of work, but if you try to come back to full duty in only three weeks, you can easily suffer a setback and do more damage than the original injury. We know it’s not easy to be patient, but stick to your rehab schedule, and if you truly think you’re progressing ahead of schedule, talk to your surgeon.

2. Avoid Overstressing

Along a similar vein, don’t overwork your spine during therapy sessions. The goal of therapy is to build up your range of motion and strength, so don’t try to do more than suggested. Surgery takes a toll on your body, and overworking it too quickly can lead to re-injury or destabilization of spinal hardware.

3. Don’t Get Frustrated

Maintaining a healthy mindset during recovery is easier said than done, however, it is very important to your total recovery. A healthy mindset leaves you motivated to complete therapy and helps in other aspects, like healthy diet choices and wound care. We’ve found that the best way to stay positive is to prepare for life after surgery before you go under the knife. This means talking with your surgeon to manage expectations like how long you’ll be out of work, what rehab will look like, and what you can expect in the days and weeks after an operation. It also means you should take some steps to make life easier and more entertaining. Before surgery, stockpile some of your favorite books and movies, cook some healthy reheatable meals, and reach out to friends and family members to see if they can stop by and visit while you recover. All of these will help keep you in a great mindset after surgery.

4. Heed Your Surgeon’s Advice

You’ve heard the phrase “the doctor knows best,” and this is especially true after surgery. Your surgeon has likely performed that exact surgery a number of times, and they know the best ways to ensure your recovery goes smoothly. Follow their rehab instructions as explained, and if you have any questions at any point during your recovery, reach back out to your surgeon.

5. Don’t Ignore Red Flags

Lastly, surgeons and their medical team do everything in their power to ensure your recovery goes smoothly, but sometimes problems still arise. One of the more common problems after surgery is an infection, so you should know what signs to look for. If you are experiencing redness at the surgical site, drainage, colored discharge or a fever, give your surgeon’s office a call right away. The earlier you stop an infection, the less problems it will cause. Don’t just assume the problem will correct itself, be proactive and reach out to your doctor at the first sign of infection.

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