Lifestyle Changes After Back Surgery

recovery from back surgery Back Surgery can be a major life changing experience for many people. After a back surgery it is important to follow your doctor’s post-surgical advises that will mainly include recommendations on rehabilitation and a regular physical therapy regime.

Along with this it’s also a good idea for the patient to analyze his / her life and deal with incorporating lifestyle changes that are under his/her control. This is mandatory for faster recovery post back surgery.

Here are a few changes that can be made post surgery.

Quit Smoking.

Smoking aggravates back pain because nicotine is known to cause pain and obstruct post-surgical healing. This fact holds true for surgeries involving fusion as nicotine arrests the growth of bone which inhibits the formation of a solid fusion.

Don’t drink alcohol.

Avoid drinking alcohol and under no circumstances get drunk. Alcoholic drinks contain depressants which refrains the patient from developing a happy frame of mind. A stress free and relaxed approach is very important during post-surgical recovery.

Alcohol is also a sedative and when used in combination with strong pain medications and muscle relaxants it will make the person fall into a deep slumber. Often alcohol does not react favorably with narcotic medications and it is therefore advised not to touch alcohol at all during the post-surgical recovery process.

Eat a nutritious diet.

Healthy foods containing vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, nutrients and minerals help heal the body faster. A balanced diet nourishes the body keeping it fit, strong and energetic. Check with your doctor about the diet that you should follow post surgery. Some narcotic medicines lead to constipation and eating a fiber-rich diet (including yellow-color fruits, dry fruits like prunes and bran) is the best solution to the problem.

Drink plenty of water.

Keep your body well hydrated by drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water every day. Drinking enough water will also keep your digestive system in proper working condition thus helping you avoid constipation.

Maintain a healthy weight.

If you weigh more than you should according to the height-weight chart, then it’s time to get rid of the excess weight. Extra fat on the body will cause stress on the weight bearing structure of the body, especially the spine and the discs in the lower back. Don’t start vigorous exercise to achieve your ideal weight post surgery. Instead go for long walks twice a day.

Do not sit at one place for long durations.

Sitting in one place for long periods can put pressure on the low back. Besides it is also difficult to sit using a correct posture for a long time. Sitting and resting are good ways to heal the first week after surgery. However, post one week it is best to get up and move around for 10-15 minutes after every hour. Make conscious effort to move or set an alarm which tells you that it’s time for you to take your 15 minutes stroll.


Do not compromise on sleeping time.

It is important to get enough sleep after your back surgery. Resting peacefully will help the tissues in your body recover faster. You might not be able to achieve peaceful sleep the first few days after the surgery considering that you will be in the hospital and on strong pain medications which will disrupt your regular sleeping pattern.

A good idea would be to avoid napping for long in the afternoons. This will refrain you from sleeping at night. If you can, take medicines that cause drowsiness before hitting the bed at night. Taking these medicines during the day will make it difficult for you to sleep at night. Start relaxing yourself an hour before your bedtime by reading books, listening to soft music or taking a bath. Do not eat spicy or rich food for dinner and stop taking caffeine based drinks five hours before your sleep time. If you still have difficulty sleeping ask your doctor for a prescription.

Rely on correct back support to see you through the recovery. Use lumbar support, ergonomic chairs and a correct body posture to avoid straining the muscles in your neck and back. Maintaining a properly aligned spine is important after a back surgery.

Control Pain after Spine Surgery

Back surgery leads to a lot of pain which can be managed using the help of a physical therapist. Controlling pain after a surgery is important as it helps the patient regain lost strength and stamina. Rehabilitation programs post surgery also become difficult to achieve if the patient is in constant pain. Don’t expect pain to disappear altogether. You will experience slight pain every now and then.

The following tips can help you deal with the pain.

• Apply ice pack on the area that hurts

• Correct your posture. Most often the pain will be due to incorrect posture.

• Perform back exercises to keep the pain in control.

• Ask your physical therapist to use electrical devices like TENS units to manage pain.

Most often than not, the pain can be managed at home or at your workplace using easy and simple methods. Ice packs are great pain relievers and are available readily at home. At office you can request the person in charge of the canteen or pantry to prepare ice packs for you.

You can also ask your partner to learn a few massaging techniques from your physical therapist which help relieve pain. Many-a-times you will yourself be able to deal with the pain by changing your stance to a more comfortable sleeping or sitting position.

For your post-surgical recovery the physical therapist will develop an exercise plan best suited to your needs and body. The programme will be based on the kind of surgery you’ve had, the structure of your body tissues and of course your body type. For back surgery the focus is mainly on

• Muscles that have been cut due to incision

• Muscles that were weakened due to back problems pre-surgery and

• Small groups of muscles around vertebrae that support the spinal structure.

The success rate of your recovery post back surgery depends entirely on you and your willingness to incorporate changes in your lifestyle. This means working in combination with your doctor and therapist to lead a stress and pain free life.

Photo Credit- Superhealthy.com.au



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