Spinal Surgery Recovery: 5 Ways to Improve the Process

Spinal surgery recovery is complex. There’s a lot of build up to the day of surgery. However, once you’re in the surgical room there’s nothing you can do during the procedure to support the success of your own spinal surgery surgery. It’s out of your control and in the hands of your surgeon. Your real work starts the moment you go home and start the recovery process.

spine surgery recovery

A successful spinal surgery recovery depends on more than what is done during the procedure. There are some elements of post operative care that are in your control and may have decreased the effectiveness of your initial spine surgery. You want this spine surgery to be your last, so learn how these five ways to improve your recovery are a recipe for success!


  1. Increase Mobility: You already know it can be difficult to maintain mobility during recovery. Every movement is 10 times harder. Try to relax through the tension and focus on the relief you’ll feel later with a positive recovery. Movement increases your body’s ability to heal. Increased blood flow to the surgical site will provide your body with the essential support it needs to fully recover. It’s hard to find that perfect balance of pushing yourself and allowing your body to rest. So listen to your body but also listen to your doctors and physical therapists and stick to their regimen of exercises and activity level.
  2. Good Nutrition: Ever heard the phrase, you are what you eat? Though this is a slight exaggeration, there is some validity to this cliche. The nutrients in the food we consume provides our bodies with the proper tools to successfully heal. Excess weight and bad nutrition can directly impact spinal pain and recovery. Anti-inflammatory and nutrient rich foods can improve your body’s functioning. Excess weight on the joints can significantly increase pressure, tension, and pain of the surgical site. If your doctors determine you are overweight, they might ask you to embark on a weight loss regimen with additional nutritional suggestions.
  3. Diminish Stress: As you’re aware, chronic pain is stressful. With unforeseen flair ups and frustration with daily tasks, stress during spinal surgery recovery will be a natural response. The psychological reaction to stress and pain is to tighten, to protect whatever is experiencing the pain from additional factors that may make it worse. This process constricts mobility and builds tension. Increasing relaxation and ease through slow movements will assist the body’s ability to heal and recover from the stress of surgery. Find a stress regimen like mediation or restorative yoga to manage stress and improve mobility.
  4. Eliminate Nicotine: This can be a difficult habit to break, but smoking directly impacts the success of your surgery. Research shows nicotine affects the bone’s healing process and unnecessary scar formation. It will be tough to just stop a habit the moment you come out of surgery, so start developing a plan now and get started on eliminating smoking as soon as possible. Use the image of yourself  in full recovery to motivate this change. Focus on the end result, relief from your chronic pain and immobility.
  5. Medications that Work: Considering you’ve already had spinal surgery and you are most likely in need of a second surgery due to continued pain and discomfort, you’re probably already on a variety of medications and have tried many brands and types. Make sure to talk to your doctor about what you are currently on and what you’ve discovered works best for your body. Discuss what they plan to prescribe post op and how to manage juggling the medications that will ensure the best possible comfort and outcome for your recovery. 


During your revision assessment with a spinal specialist, your doctor should be able to advise and discuss how to implement these five ways to improve the success of your spinal surgery recovery. For additional recovery preparation tips and tools to aid your second spine surgery recovery, read Come Back from Revision Spine Surgery Like a Champ

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