If you’re preparing for back surgery, then you must be wondering how long is the recovery process. It’s not a secret that recovery from back surgery depends on many things such as your overall health, the type of spinal surgery, and how well you are prepared to follow your doctor’s instructions.
For example, spinal fusion is considered to be one of the riskiest and most expensive procedures performed in Australia. It’s the process of joining two discs together and the recovery time after this type of surgery can last from 6 months to a year!
But don’t worry! If you want to speed up your recovery, you need to know that certain factors can help you speed things up. Let’s see what those factors are.
Pre-Op and Post-Op instructions
Following both the pre-op and post-op instructions is a great way to speed up the recovery process.
At least six weeks before the surgery, you need to stop drinking alcohol and consuming tobacco products. These products can affect how your body responds to anesthesia which can, in turn, complicate the procedure.
Similarly, two weeks before the procedure, you need to stop using blood thinners. A week before the surgery, you should drink a lot of water (at least a gallon of water per day), eat lean protein and vegetables, and sleep as much as you can.
When it comes to post-op instructions, you’ll need to rest as much as possible. After anesthesia, you will fill drowsy and sleepy which means that you’ll need to have someone drive you home. That same person should watch you for the first 24 hours after the surgery. Also, during those 24 hours, you should only rest, drink a lot of water, sleep and eat when you’re hungry.
Staying in hospital
Sometimes, and especially if you’ve had spinal fusion surgery, you’ll need to stay in the hospital for at least 3 days. Even though the rest is very important, getting back on your feet is important as well. This is why you’ll be assigned a physical therapist whose job will be to help you perform a range of motion exercises to strengthen your arms and legs.
Walking and sitting
In the beginning, you’ll be tempted to sit a lot. However, while rest is recommended, sitting for too long is not the best way to speed up your recovery.
According to an expert spine surgeon from Brisbane, walking is a crucial part of the post-op process. Walking can help you strengthen your circulatory system which, in turn, helps your bloodstream transport nutrients to your spine and tissues.
Many times, you will be instructed to walk within 24 hours of surgery. Since the first two weeks after the surgery are crucial, you’ll be walking a lot. However, don’t try to exert yourself too much, short walks are the best, you can think about increasing distance only 15 days after surgery.
When you’re sitting, make sure you’re sitting in a sturdy chair and that your posture is correct. If you’re not sure about how to sit right, ask your physical therapist. Try to slowly shift while sitting but don’t make any sudden moves and don’t twist your spine.
Sleep and nutrition
Sleep and nutrition are other two factors that can help you speed up your recovery. We reiterate that rest is very important after spine surgery. This means that you should get at least nine hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. You should also take 90-minute naps before lunch or dinner.
You should also sleep in the right position to help your spine heal faster. For those who usually sleep on their backs, you should place pillows under your knees and head to keep the spine in proper alignment. If you sleep on your sides, pillows can also help you – place them under the head and between the knees.
For those who tend to toss and turn in their sleep, use rolled-up towels and place them next to you so that you can move a lot in your sleep. If you have a recliner, sleep on it the first two weeks after the procedure.
As for nutrition, you must eat nutrient-dense foods, foods with protein and calcium. These foods are great because they provide essential nutrition to your bones and muscles. Milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, cereals such as quinoa, lentils, peas, black beans, almonds, walnuts, and so on, are all great post-op food.
It goes without saying that you should avoid unhealthy foods if you want a speedy recovery.
It’s important to be patient and to follow all the instructions. Recovery time will vary from person to person, it will depend on your overall health and type of spinal surgery. Our best advice is to follow all your doctor’s orders, take things slow and be patient.
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