What Factors Influence your Return to Work After Spine Surgery?

Category: Spine Surgery, Surgery Recovery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: October 16, 2017

Return to Work After Spine Surgery

As we mentioned in a previous blog, one of the most common questions we receive when talking to patients about their spine care options is how soon can they return to work after spine surgery. The answer depends on your specific operation, but according to new research published in the Journal of Neurosurgery, several different factors impact whether you’ll return to work at all after spine surgery.

Spine Surgery and Returning To Work

For their study, researchers examined return to work factors for nearly 5,000 individuals who were undergoing elective lumbar spine surgery to treat their degenerative disc disease. First, let’s take a look at what factors increase a person’s likelihood of returning to work after surgery, while also noting that 82 percent returned to work within three months of their operation.

Increased likelihood of returning to work after elective spinal surgery included:

  • Being male
  • Having graduated high school
  • Working a low-impact occupation
  • Being employed at the time of injury

On the flip side, there were a number of interesting factors that served to decrease a person’s likelihood of returning to work after elective degenerative disc surgery. Those factors include:

  • Working a manual labor job
  • Having a valid workers’ compensation claim
  • Possessing liability insurance for disability
  • Having a higher than average pain rating
  • Being diabetic, or having a history of diabetes

According to researchers, “this evidence-based decision support will result in better communication between patients and clinicians and improve postoperative recovery expectations, which will ultimately increase the likelihood of a positive return to work trajectory.”

Getting Back To Work After Spine Surgery

So while those factors shine a light on some of the demographic factors that play a role in your likelihood of returning to work after a spine injury, a number of those factors are uncontrollable for the patient. We also want to share some tips that you can control that increase your ability to safely return to work after a spinal operation. Some of those controllable factors that can help speed up your recovery and help you get back to work after elective spine surgery include:

  • Practicing healthy habits before and after your operation
  • Having a healthy weight prior to surgery
  • Following your therapy recommendations after surgery
  • Eating healthy meals and ensuring you get plenty of water
  • Avoid rushing back to work
  • Working with a rehab consultant to ensure your transition back to work goes smoothly
  • Listening to your surgeon in regards to your physical activity
  • Maintaining a positive mindset as you progress through your rehab
  • Asking your doctor any questions that might come up during your recovery
  • Talking with your employer about work modifications to assist your return to work

This isn’t a full list, but it can help you get a jump on your rehab after spine surgery. We know that you want to get back to work, so don’t be afraid to talk about your job duties and how spine surgery may impact your physical abilities in both the short- and long-term. We’ll be more than happy to walk you through everything. Contact our office today.

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