How does your back feel? Many Americans say they have an achy back. Back pain is a big concern for many people, and the need for back procedures increases as your get older. Many people who suffer from back pain recover; however, reoccurrence of pain and discomfort is common. For some people, their back problems will become chronic and disabling.
Research indicates that more than 1 million instrumented spinal procedures are performed in the United States every year. An aging population is leading to an increase in spinal fusion surgeries and other back and spine procedures.
If you or a loved one has scheduled back surgery, there are things you should know to prepare for your surgery and your recovery. Recognize your limitations and understand possible recovery time.
Preparing for surgery is easier when you have a team of people by your side. With the help of your doctors and a trusted loved one, you will have a successful journey through this troublesome time. Here are the things you should know before back surgery to guarantee a fortunate recovery.
Reasons Doctors Recommend Back Surgery
Your condition will determine which type of back surgery you receive. For instance, patients with a curved spine may require one of several different types of scoliosis spine surgeries. Other common reasons doctors recommend back surgery include:
- Spine fracture
- Spine realignment
- Slipped disk
- Bone spurs
- Herniated disk
Depending on the type of spinal surgery you receive, recovery may take six weeks to six months. It takes the longest to recover from spinal fusion surgery, which is when bones are realigned and welded back together. You will be able to stand, but you'll need physical therapy.
Less invasive procedures require less recovery time, but since your spine is the core of your body, you may need to relearn how to use it after surgery.
After surgery, you must be careful with your body and spine. Before your procedure, prepare your home to accommodate your needs. Get a toilet lifter to help you use the bathroom. You can use a grabber to help you reach things. Further, you may want to prepare food ahead of time or sign up for a meal delivery service. Many patients find it easier to wear slip-on shoes, so they can avoid bending.
One misconception about back surgery is that it fixes everything. You may still need to see a physical therapist during and after your recovery. Further, whatever caused your back problems could cause additional problems in the future. Practice back strength and posture to keep your core in good shape.
Be sure to follow the instructions of your doctor and physical therapist. Good nutrition is essential. Plus, be sure to drink plenty of water. You may experience pain during your recovery. Your doctor will provide you with pain medication and slowly wean you off your medication as time goes by.
Finally, take it easy. Some people will want to return to normal activity way too quickly. However, following through with your physical therapy and their recommendation for exercise is essential to a good recovery and overall good health after you recover.
Older Adults May Have More Complications
Older adults, or those with other health problems, will experience a slower recovery time from any back procedure. They generally will have longer hospital stays and are often released to a rehab facility before returning home (or an assisted living facility or nursing home if they were already living there).
Older individuals will have other post-op problems. One of which is constipation. Older people often have reduced activity levels following a surgery which can add to constipation. Plus, changes in diet and narcotic pain medications often used following spine surgery can further irritate the problem.
Plus, older people will often need assistance if they return home following rehab. In-home care helping them with normal living activities may be required for months or longer depending on how the person is recovering and their overall health before surgery.
Who Pays for Care?
Remember, rehab and other skilled services will be paid for up to 100 days by health insurance, Medicare, and supplements. Some limited in-home post-surgery care may also be provided. Otherwise, Medicaid will provide care if you have low income and little savings. Long-Term Care Insurance will also pay for this type of care if it is expected to be needed for at least 90 days or more.
The cost of extended health care services and supports are expensive and increase every year - Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State | LTC News.
Once you heal, remember to take care of your back. Experts suggest these good back health tips:
Sleep - Overall good health, including back health, requires getting the right amount of sleep every night.
Activity - Don't be a couch potato. No matter your age, be active. A body in motion is good for your back and your health. Stretching, strengthening, and aerobic exercise are all essential.
Stretch - Be sure to stretch your back and neck before activity. Stretching will help you maintain proper joint function and promote a good range of motion.
Lift the Right Way - Be sure to use your legs and knees rather than your back or upper body to lift an object. If it is too heavy - get help.
Maintain Proper Weight - Being overweight is hard on your knees and your back. Put less pressure on your body and lose weight if you are overweight.
Finally, if you still experience symptoms, or if they return, don't ignore them. These problems can become more chronic as you get older. Staying ahead of them will help you maintain independence and a better quality of life.
About the Author
Mallory Knee is a freelance writer for multiple online publications where she can showcase her affinity for all things beauty and fashion. She particularly enjoys writing for communities of passionate women who come together for a shared interest and empower one another in the process. In her free time, you can find Mallory trying a fun new dinner recipe, practicing calligraphy, or hanging out with her family.
Contributor since September 25th, 2020
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