Spine Surgery Recovery: Come Back like a Champ
Don’t let a lack of independence or mobility affect your recovery time.
After months of imaging and evaluations of your conditions, the doctors have recommended revision spinal surgery. So you feel like you’re back to square one. Though every surgery is different, you are already a step ahead because you are an experienced spinal surgery patient, now.
Even though you’ve been here before, it’s important to review all the reminders to properly prepare for recovery from spine surgery. Don’t let a lack of independence or mobility affect your recovery time. These preparation tips and recovery tools will help you come back from revision spinal surgery like a champ.
Set Up Your Recovery Space
As you probably remember, you will be spending a lot of time at home in a limited space during your recovery. Set up this space ahead of time with these tips to make your post op experience more comfortable, provide you with additional accessibility, and entertainment you may not have had during your original spinal surgery recovery.
- Get Comfortable: Laying down and rolling out of bed can be extremely difficult following any spinal surgery. So in your living room or common area set up a comfortable chair that is easy to get in and out of and spend your first few nights in. Make sure to have pillows within reach to adjust your seated position and cushion any sore muscles.
- Check Accessibility: Recall your post op restrictions like no lifting above your head and reaching for high shelves. Go around the house and make sure everything you’ll want is within reach for added independence. Food and lightweight kitchenware should be at the front of the fridge and cabinets. Medications should be on an easy to access counter or table close by. And don’t forget to make everyday items accessible like a towel, toothbrush, and lotion to diminish brace rubbing.
- Entertainment: Remember every surgery is different, and recovery timelines can fluctuate. It’s a good idea to have extra entertainment options planned. You’re probably past the “I don’t want friends to see me like this” phase from your first surgery. So reach out to close friends, extended family, and neighbors to schedule a good time for visitors to stop by to chat or watch a movie during recovery. Human interaction and positive support is important, and it will be even more crucial your second time around.
- Additional Rooms: Don’t limit yourself to one area. As you begin to get more active and roam the house, you’ll want at least 2 additional rooms and spaces you can rotate throughout your spine surgery recovery so you aren’t stuck in one spot. Possibly set up a chair on a deck or patio to go outside and get fresh air for even a short period of time. Changing your environment will encourage mobility and improve your recovery time.
Get Tools to Get Moving
Independence is important and increased activity will improve your spine surgery recovery time. Remember all the little tasks that were difficult to achieve independently post op and locate any past tools you used to accomplish them. It can be frustrating depending on others for help with little tasks and it’s important for your recovery to get moving within your restrictions to the best of your ability. Review with your doctor and physical therapist your strategy for exercises and purchase any accessories that will help you complete your exercises to improve mobility. If you didn’t have any tools or physical therapy accessories the first time around, definitely get these this time.
- Grabber Tool: Chances are you will eventually need something on a high shelf or in a low corner. But if reaching or bending down seems out of the question, a grabber tool will help you independently access whatever you need while building strength.
- Shower Mat & Brush: Taking a shower may be the most action you get in your first weeks at home. You’ll want to cover any slippery surfaces with rugs or no slip mats so you don’t set back your recovery time with a slip and unnecessary injury. Also, shower brushes are essential to ensure that you keep your incision clean and dry while providing you independence in the shower.
- Heating Pads & Ice Packs: Double check any heating pads and ice packs are still in great shape. You may recall that not all the ice packs make it back into the freezer right away, so it may be useful to get a couple backups so you have them when needed. Getting your blood moving and inflammation down is crucial for any surgery recovery.
- Therabands: Mobility is imperative to your revision surgery success. Following a strict physical therapy regimen wasn’t easy the first time, and the second time you may feel even more tender and weak. Therabands are incredible tools that increase your ability to stretch and provide resistance for strength building with manageable exercises.
- Hand Massage Tool: Remember your entire body will be sore, not just the incision or spine. You’ll want a little hand massager to roll over your arms and legs to keep blood flowing during this more sedentary time. This tool can also relieve tension that could be leading to additional discomfort and atrophy during your recovery.
It’s important to remember that every surgery is different. However, with your experience and these tools and tips, you will be better equipped to manage your recovery with improved mobility and independence. An experienced revision surgery specialist and physical therapist should discuss your post op plan to advise on activity levels throughout your recovery. Being informed and prepared will set you up for success.
Request a consultation with leading back and spine specialist Dr. Branko Prpa
or learn more about common second spinal surgeries in this article on Revision Surgery.