5 Ways To Avoid Constipation After Spine Surgery

Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Nausea and Back Pain

Constipation is uncomfortable at any point, but it can be especially bothersome if you experience the issue during your recovery from spine surgery. Your spine may be weak and the surgical site may be uncomfortable, and if you add constipation to the mix, discomfort can ratchet up a notch. Below, we share some spine surgeon approved tips for making bowel movements a little easier after your back surgery.

Easier Bowel Movements After Spine Surgery

You may think that you won’t need to take any specific steps to avoid constipation after an operation, but some of the side effects of surgery can greatly increase your risk of constipation, so it’s helpful to keep these tips in mind after your operation.

  1. Stay Hydrated – Being hydrated will make it easier for waste to make its way through your bowels and eventually exit your body. Since you’re probably not all that active after spine surgery, you may not think to replenish fluids as regularly, but your body is working hard behind the scenes to help you recover, and that can be dehydrating. Always have a big bottle of water nearby during the early stages of your recovery.
  2. Be Active – Movement and activity also help to keep your digestive system on track, but we know that activity isn’t always easy to come by in the wake of a spinal operation. Stay within your physical limits but try to be as active as possible as you work to recover after surgery. Even if that just means getting out of bed and going for a short walk around your room, all of this motion will help your digestive system.
  3. Medication Management – If you’ve ever heard a commercial for any medication on television, odds are you’ve heard that constipation is a possible side effect. Medications can end up slowing down your body’s digestive system, and that can lead to more water being removed from waste, making stool firmer and potentially contributing to constipation. Take your medications only as directed, and talk with your doctor about switching medications if you believe that your meds are causing problems for your bowel movements.
  4. Consider A Laxative – If you have dealt with constipation in the past and suspect that it may be an issue during your recovery, talk with your doctor about taking a fiber laxative. Fiber laxatives help to keep more water in your stool, making them softer and easier to pass. Check with your doctor to see if an over-the-counter laxative like Citrucel or Metamucil could be an option during your recovery.
  5. Eat Right – Finally, consuming a healthy diet can help your recovery in a number of ways, including reducing your risk of constipation. Certain high-fiber foods like vegetables, whole grains and fruits can help make stool more passable, but overdoing it on fiber can lead to constipation, so stick to the recommended daily amount. The USDA currently recommends 25g of fiber a day for women and 38g a day for men.

For more tips on how you can keep constipation at bay during your recovery from spine surgery, or to talk with a specialist about a different back issue you’re experiencing, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi and the team at The Midwest Spine & Brain Institute today at (651) 430-3800.

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