Getting Ready for Back Surgery – Be Prepared No Matter Your Age

Read Time: 4:52
Published: Aug 9th, 2021
Getting Ready for Back Surgery

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

Recovery Time

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.

Your Limitations

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.

Continuing Treatment

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.

Editor's Note

People require long-term health care services due to an illness, accident, or the impact of aging. Sometimes the need for care may only be for five or six months, often much longer. Older people, or those with other health problems, may require long-term care following back surgeries, for example. 

A person may recover and regain their independence. However, a person will not recover from many health or aging problems, like dementia, and will need long-term care for years. 

The problem of long-term care is both a cash flow issue and a family issue. Preparing your family and finances for the financial costs and burdens associated with long-term health care is key to enjoying a successful future retirement.

Many resources are available on LTC NEWS that help educate you about the options available to you to safeguard savings and income and reduce the stress on your loved ones from the costs and burdens of aging and changing health. 

As you prepare for your future retirement, better consider the physical, emotional, and financial burdens that get placed on you and your family.

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Reverse Mortgages Can Be Part of a Plan

If most of your assets are tied up in your home, today's reverse mortgages might help as the solution for either funding Long-Term Care Insurance or paying for care - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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LTC News Contributor Mallory Knee
Mallory Knee

Contributor Since
September 25th, 2020

Freelance writer where she can showcase her affinity for all things beauty

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.

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