Undergoing a major surgical procedure like spinal fusion is not only a tiring physical undertaking, but it can take a toll on your mental health. It’s so important to start thinking about how you will take care of your body as you begin the recovery process once you get back home. Spinal fusion, a major procedure that permanently connects two or more vertebrae in your spine, often produces extremely effective results for patients hoping to reduce their chronic back pain. But the recovery period is perhaps just as important, and a careless blunder can negate an otherwise successful procedure.
Here are a number of steps you can take to ensure that you’re on your way to a safe and speedy recovery.
Strategies for Staying Healthy After Spinal Fusion Surgery
Taking care of yourself after spinal surgery is important, so don’t hesitate to lean on others during this challenging stage. Having friends and family by your side will ease your anxiety and help you on the road to recovery. Likewise, it’s important to note that every case is different, so follow your surgeon’s directives to the T. These guidelines are broad recommendations that will hopefully guide you in the right direction.
- Sustain a healthy diet: When you’re thrown off your routine, in any situation, it’s easy to let your diet slip. After a major surgery, it’s more important than ever to give your body the nourishment it needs. Establish a balanced, low-fat diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Because you’ll be less active during your recovery period, refrain from high-calorie, fattening foods. And of course, drink plenty of water!
- Rest responsibly: Spinal fusion requires more rest than most surgeries, and just like any back injury, it is vital that you know how to position your body to prevent further damage. Your surgeon will be able to tell you exactly what sleep positions are best for your back, but it is generally advisable to keep your shoulders, upper back, and head marginally elevated. You can do so by propping up pillows, leaning against a wedge, or with an adjustable bed. Likewise, when shifting positions, roll your entire body to either side such that your back isn’t twisting on its own. Sitting in a chair can often put a strain on your lower back. If you must do so for a long period, it may be beneficial to take breaks every half-hour to stand up and walk around. Keep your knees lower than your hips, and always use a wedge.
- Maintain body circulation: While resting is a vital aspect of recovery, you’ll eventually want to start moving your body. It may cause you slight discomfort, but it will counteract other serious complications such as deep-vein thrombosis, a life-threatening condition in which blood clots form in one or more of the deep veins in your body. Ask your surgeon how long after surgery you should begin walking, but when the time is right, do so relatively slowly and with caution. Start with short walks and gradually increase your distance each day. Likewise, steer clear of lifting heavy objects, participating in any laborious exercise, and sexual activity.
- Manage your pain: Take pain medication only as prescribed by your doctor, and always stay stocked up so you’re not left with any breaks in your pain management schedule. However, make sure not to overdo it! You can always make use of other non-drug relief treatments such as heating pads, massages, and mild exercise.
- Stay positive: Believe it or not, but many patients claim that having an upbeat mood can have a positive effect on the way your body manages pain. It’s easy to get down in the dumps when you’re stuck at home and barely able to move around. Just remember that this process will take time, so keep your expectations low. When this thing is finally over, you will be free from the chronic back pain that has likely plagued you for years. Try your best to smile!
- Participate in physical therapy: Depending on your situation, you may need home care or assistance from a visiting physical therapist. If you do, make sure you keep your appointments. As much as it may be an annoyance, physical therapy is a fundamental part of the healing process and will help you reestablish your functionality and keep your body active.
Consider the Experts at New Jersey Spine and Orthopedic
The medical professionals at New Jersey Spine and Orthopedic will help you every step of the way as you look to manage your pain and recover your functionality. We’re a team of highly-trained back surgeons who are well-versed in minimally invasive surgery and proper recovery techniques. Our experts are sure to find a treatment program that suits your specific needs. Call (866) 272-9271 or complete our contact form today!