If you are scheduled for lumbar or cervical spine surgery, you have put yourself on the path to relief. Still, we know that you have questions and concerns about the procedure, your safety, and what comes after your release from the hospital. Your recovery from spine surgery will depend upon many variables, including the type of surgery you are scheduled to have and your current physical condition, but below you will find some helpful information to help you know what to expect and how to navigate in the days and weeks immediately following your procedure.
During the first couple of days after your surgery, you are likely to be most comfortable sleeping on your back with your knees bent and supported by a pillow. Keep your arms to your side or resting on your stomach rather than placed over your head.
If you are more comfortable sleeping on your side, you should tuck a pillow between your legs and make sure that your legs are stacked with the top leg slightly forward (don’t let the top knee touch the bed) and both knees bent.
Both of these positions will alleviate pressure on your lower back. Do not attempt to sleep on your stomach.
When it is time to get out of bed, do not attempt to sit up. Keep your back straight and roll to change positions, including getting out of bed. This is best done by rolling and using the hand that is closest to the bed to push yourself up to your elbow, then dropping your lower legs off of the bed, pushing up with both hands into a sitting position. Push up with your legs to stand.
Many people find that sitting is uncomfortable after surgery. To alleviate pain, make sure that you do not slouch or slide down into a chair. Instead, maintain your normal posture, keeping your ears, shoulders and hips in a straight line. A chair that provides support for your lower back and that allows your feet to be flat on the floor with your knees level with your hips is best. Though they may be tempting, avoid soft chairs and couches that you sink into. It is a good idea to get up and stretch every half hour or so, as sitting for too long may introduce stiffness.
If you need to return to work after surgery, make sure that your desk chair swivels. A swivel chair allows you to turn more easily and helps you to avoid twisting, which can be painful. If you spend a great deal of time on the phone, it is a good idea to invest in a headset rather than strain your back and arms by holding a phone to your ear.
For information on what to expect from minimally invasive spine surgery, contact our New Jersey spine practice today.