Many people are unfamiliar with the spine surgery process simply because they’ve never needed to undergo an operation. But maybe the day has come that you or a family member needs spine surgery, and you want to get a better understanding of the process and the recovery expectations. You turn to the internet for answers, but unfortunately, you’re left with more questions than you had before because it’s tough to separate fact from fiction when it comes to spine surgery.
In today’s blog, we hope to clear up some common misconceptions about spine surgery so you know what to expect during and after your operation.
“Surgery will fix my problem.”
Surgery is designed to help fix your back issue, but you also need to put in some work to complete the puzzle. Physical therapy, caring for your wound site and following your activity orders all play a crucial role in helping you make a full recovery. Spine surgery should be seen as the first step in the journey to health, not as a magical act that will take care of all your issues on its own.
“Surgery is going to be painful” or “I will have pain medications to prevent post-op pain.”
These thoughts are on two different sides of the spectrum, but we’ve found that they aren’t true in the way that many people believe they are. The physical act of surgery is rarely painful thanks to anesthesia and nerve blocks. There will be some discomfort afterwards as the anesthesia wears off, but it’s typically tolerable. We also want to clear up misconceptions about pain management with painkillers. We know what type of pain to expect after operations, so while we will certainly help you manage pain with appropriate meds, we don’t want you to lean on them heavily to block out all pain, as this can lead to addiction or dependence. We work with you to provide a carefully designed medication regimen post op that will help manage your discomfort while also helping to prevent any potential for dependence. It’s a balancing act we’ll walk together.
“My health is in my surgeon’s hands”
To some extent, this is true, but as we mentioned in the first point, you have a significant role to play in your recovery. The work you put in before and after surgery will go a long way in determining your long-term outcomes. Feeling like you have no control of your health can be scary and lead to poorer outcomes, but you actually have more control than you imagine. Commit to a healthy lifestyle and your PT sessions, and you’ll be well on your way to a great recovery.
“Rest is best after surgery”
You’ll want to follow your doctor’s specific instructions following your surgery, but studies have found that patients who are more active during certain aspects of their recovery have faster and fuller recoveries. You don’t want to overdo it too soon after surgery, but light activities are often better for your health than laying in a bed for weeks waiting for structures to heal. Prolonged rest can lead to muscle atrophy of supportive structures, so make sure you’re partaking in safe exercises and stretches once you’ve been cleared for movement by your specialist.
If you have any misconceptions you want cleared up, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.