How Much Pain Will There Be After Spine Surgery?

Category: Spine Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: June 15, 2020

Back Pain & Incontinence

When patients are told that they’ll need to undergo a spinal procedure, one of the first questions that often comes to mind is in reference to pain. Many want to know if the procedure or the aftermath will be painful or if it will provide pain relief from their current condition. As you might have guessed, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but we hope we can use this blog to better explain the pain side of things when it comes to spine surgery.

Pain During And After Spine Surgery

Let’s start with pain expectations during the procedure. Again, while we can’t speak to every single operation with one generalized statement, for the most part, the surgery is when you’ll be in the least amount of discomfort. Local and general anesthesia ensure that we can operate on a specific spinal segment without causing pain on the patient. There may be a small amount of discomfort during the operation depending on the procedure, but again, this is usually when pain is at its minimum.

After the procedure is when pain levels tend to increase for one reason or another. The good news is that for most patients who had surgery to reduce pain from a mechanical cause, pain from their original source will be gone. You will likely have reduced or no pain from the original pinched nerve or herniated disc, but there will still be discomfort from the operation itself. Even though we can often use minimally invasive techniques to limit trauma on the body during an operation, surgery is still a significant undertaking for the spine and the nearby soft tissues. Sometimes muscles and other tissues need to be cut in order to access the area, and this can lead to localized pain as your whole body recovers from the operation.

The First Week

Pain is typically most intense in the first week after the spinal operation, but it can also be well-controlled during this time. Your spine surgeon can prescribe painkillers and walk you through some pain mitigation strategies in order to help keep your discomfort at a manageable level during this time. Many patients also find pain more bearable if they come into the operation with appropriate expectations. We always walk patients through the operation and recovery aspects that they should be prepared for, and pain is one of the topics we cover. Our goal is to help you come to a reasonable understanding of what to expect after the procedure in terms of pain, because having the right expectations can help with the psychological side of pain.

Pain typically only decreases as you get further from your surgery day, but it’s important to keep in contact with your surgeon if pain continues or gets worse during your recovery. There is a chance that part of the operation failed or there is another injury that needs to be addressed, but this is unlikely. Most patients not only see a decrease in pain as time passes and they progress through their rehab plan, but they also tend to have much less pain than they did prior to the procedure.

So while you may have to deal with moderate pain and discomfort shortly after your procedure, for the majority of patients, this pain is short lived and is worth it for the end result, which is decreased levels of everyday discomfort. There will be pain, but we’ll work hard to decrease it and keep it manageable as you progress to a full recovery. If you’re dealing with daily or chronic back pain and want to put it in the past, contact Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.

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