Category: Spine Surgery, Surgery Recovery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
Years of wear and tear or an acute injury to the spine can lead to degeneration and shifting of the spinal column. As discs or vertebrae shift, they can no longer provide as much support as they could previously. In essence, your spine starts to act like a Jenga tower as a game progresses. Certain areas become less and less stable until they can no longer support the column.
Now, your spine will not come crashing down like a Jenga tower when discs can no longer support a vertebrae, but it can lead to painful shifting, nerve compression and even fractures. To combat these injuries or realign the spine before something like this can happen, spine specialists often see if a patient is a good candidate for minimally invasive spinal stabilization surgery. A stabilization operation is an umbrella term for a variety of fusion procedures aimed at helping to restabilize the spine. You can learn more about those stabilization procedures on this page, but in today’s blog, we’re going to share some tips for recovering after one of these minimally invasive stabilization procedures.
Speeding Up Recovery After Spinal Stabilization Surgery
It should come as no surprise that the best way to recover following spinal stabilization surgery is to follow the individualized advice of your treating surgeon, but here’s a look at some generalized advice for speeding up your recovery after a fusion operation.
1. Don’t Overdo It Early
We understand that you want to get back to a normal and physical life, but if you do too much too soon after surgery, you could compromise the integrity of your stabilization procedure. Although the operation is intended to strengthen your spine, you need to remember that surgery is a significant trauma on the body that will make it weaker until healing runs its course. Don’t try to do too many physical tasks unless they are cleared by your surgeon.
2. Physical Therapy Early And Often
As soon as physical therapy is recommended during your recovery, you need to jump in with both feet. Early physical therapy has been shown to improve outcomes in patients pursuing a number of different spinal procedures, including spinal fusion. It will also prove vital in helping you reach maximum medical improvement by ensuring you regain as much flexibility and range of motion in the area as possible.
3. Manage Your Diet Appropriately
Your diet can either help or hinder your recovery following a spinal fusion. A poor diet can increase inflammation in the spine, slow your body’s ability to effectively recover and even lead to weight gain, which will put more stress on your spine. Conversely, a diet full of healthy calories and a range of vitamins and nutrients can help ensure the body has the fuel it needs during the recovery process. Mind what you eat as you recover from spine stabilization surgery.
4. Be Careful With Opioids
Painkillers can play a pivotal role in your recovery, but you need to use them appropriately. You want to use them to help manage discomfort so that you can get quality sleep or participate in a physical therapy program. You don’t want to just take them constantly to just drown out the pain indefinitely. Painkillers are a passive recovery option that need to be paired with an active treatment solution for best results. Talk to your surgeon about the best way to manage your medication after a stabilization procedure.
5. Get Quality Sleep
Telling a patient to get quality sleep after a procedure is easier said than done. Odds are you’re going to be uncomfortable, and that can make falling asleep and staying asleep difficult. That being said, if you do the following things, odds are you can make it easier to achieve restful and restorative sleep:
- Strive for at least eight hours a day
- Go to bed and wake up around the same time each day
- Make the bedroom as dark as possible
- Remove distractions like televisions, iPads, cell phones and books
- Avoid coffee, alcohol or physical therapy within two hours of bedtime
- Take medication as directed to manage nighttime discomfort
If you can do all five of the above things, we’re confident that you’ll be giving your stabilization surgery the best chance to make a speedy and full recovery. And if you want the operation to be performed by one of the best in the business, look no further than Dr. Sinicropi and the team at Midwest Spine & Brain Institute. Give them a call today at (651) 430-3800.