Tips for Staying Comfortable After Spine Surgery
Category: Surgery Recovery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: September 15, 2016
Dealing with a spinal condition can be painful and uncomfortable. Skilled surgeons are helping patients fix their nagging spine problems on a daily basis, but that transition from pain to comfort rarely occurs overnight. After surgery, it can be difficult to remain comfortable through all stages of your rehab. Today, we share some tips for eliminating discomfort as your progress through your rehab.
Comfort After Back Surgery
Here’s a look at some stages of your recovery, and a few tips to keep your spine and the rest of your body comfortable during your rehab.
The First 48 Hours
This is where discomfort can reach its peak if you don’t take steps to alleviate pain. Because spine surgery is a major undertaking, odds are your surgeon is going to prescribe you some sort of pain medication. Follow your doctor’s instructions regarding the medication. Pain tends to go in waves while you’re on medication, but if you take your pills at the right time, you can reduce those waves to mere ripples. Also, be sure to adhere to activity restrictions during the first 48 hours, as this is when your spine is at its weakest. Pushing your body too far can compromise the stability of your spine, causing the surgery to fail and lead to extreme discomfort.
2 Days to 2 Weeks Post-Op
This is also a crucial stage for your spine after surgery, and you likely will not have the luxury of surgical staff to assist you if you have pain flare ups. At this point, the key to managing discomfort is two-fold; Take care of the surgical site and stay entertained. Taking care of the surgical site is important because infections can set in and cause pain or problems with the surgery site. Follow your doctor’s instructions as far as wound care, dressing changes, showering and activity go to keep the surgical site clean and healthy. The second thing you should do is try to take your mind off the pain by focusing on activities that challenge your brain. Bring home work or catch up on your school readings, grab a Sudoku or crossword book or pick up some books and movies from the library. Studies have shown that you can distract the brain from pain and discomfort, so use that to your advantage during your rehab.
2 Weeks and Beyond
Although you should always listen to your doctor’s specific instructions and your rehab varies depending on your exact operation, many patients find that comfort is easier to obtain once they’ve gone through the first 14 days of rehab. Comfort at this stage really centers around avoiding aggravating the spine while still safely pushing your physical limits to strengthen your spine. Follow the rehab instructions given to you by your doctor and physical therapist, and don’t be afraid to ask for help for some everyday activities like doing the laundry, cooking, cleaning or mowing the lawn. You want to strengthen the spine, but only in the right conditions, because as we mentioned above, an aggravation can cause serious pain. Ride out your rehab by listening to your PT, and you’ll find new comfort in your surgically fixed spine.