You may have been suffering from back pain for a long time. It may be because of a repeated heavy lifting or a sudden strain in your back muscles and spinal ligaments.
Now, you are hoping to get rid of your pain after your back surgery. Before you are under the knife, understanding various aspects of back surgery will make you emotionally and mentally ready for the surgery.
While anticipating your back surgery, it is a good idea to prepare for the recovery. To expedite your recovery and healing, you will have to create a comfortable and positive environment.
This article lists all the must-haves, which will help you maintain your physical as well as psychological health and ensure you get the best results from your back surgery.
Food and Nutrition
The food and nutrition that go into your body have a tremendous effect on your recovery and healing. To start with, your healing will be much more efficient if you eliminate junk foods while recovering. These high food items only have a lot of calories without the right nutrients that your body needs.
Next, drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated is something that always has a positive effect. It ensures that the nutrients have the right impact on your joint and organ maintenance during recovery.
You should drink 2-3 liters of water every day. If you have not been drinking a lot of water before surgery, this sudden increase may increase your bathroom visits. But it will be alright in a day or two.
Concerning the food, your recovery will be faster if you consume whole foods and high-protein items such as whole grains, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, and veggies.
Also, eating high-fiber foods, such as pears, berries, broccoli, avocado, bananas, lentils, beans, and artichoke, help mitigate post-surgery constipation, which can be very uncomfortable.
If you live alone, you should prepare the food ahead of time. You may seek help from someone who can prepare meals for you in advance. You should also contact grocery and food delivery services around the area you live in. So that you are not worried about it post your surgery.
Prescriptions and Medications
After your back surgery, your surgeon will prescribe you pain medications for post-surgery pain control. She may prescribe you narcotic drugs such as Vicodin to control severe pains. However, your narcotic pain medications, inactivity, anesthesia, and stress can cause constipation.
On the other hand, unlike narcotic pain medications, non-narcotic pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) do not cause constipation.
So, you may ask your physician if you can take non-narcotic drugs vis-à-vis narcotic drugs. To prevent or avoid constipation, you may also consider taking non-prescription laxatives prophylactically after surgery.
You should ensure that you have detailed instructions from your doctor and pharmacist on how to take prescription or over-the-counter medicines and at what frequency.
Also, as your mobility will be restricted once you get home, you must know in advance who will fill your prescriptions – a friend, family member, or a neighbor for you.
In addition to pain relievers, your surgeon or physician may also recommend vitamins and mineral supplements to expedite healing post-surgery. These may include Calcium and vitamin D, which foster bone growth after a fusion.
Comfort tools and equipment
In addition to taking care of food, nutrients, and medications, there a few more items you may want to keep handy before your back surgery. They will make your post-surgery bed-rest comfortable and your recovery faster.
As mentioned above, staying hydrated is vital for any post-surgery recovery. A water bottle on hand helps you ensure that you don’t wait for the water and fluids every time you need them.
The sooner you start moving around your home, the faster you will heal. To help you with your movement, canes and walkers are great tools. They will provide the support and security you will need while you walk during the early few days of recovery.
Depending on your condition, your surgeon may also recommend a back brace. It can provide further support to your spine and muscles when you are moving around on your feet.
While sitting, a reclining position with your legs raised and upper back propped up is excellent to relieve the discomfort caused by sitting. In case you do not have a recliner, you may also use pillows behind your lower back and under your legs to simulate recliner seating.
Another thing for ultimate comfort is a body pillow. With a body pillow, you may choose a position you feel most comfortable lying in.
It will enable you to sleep or recline in different positions as per the comfort of your body. Also, when in bed, you may place a pillow under your knees. Slightly elevated knees will help reduce the stress off your back.
When it comes to active pain management, heat and ice therapies are excellent options to alleviate pain. If you do not have a heating pad or ice packs, it is good to get them before you go for your back surgery.
While administering a heat or ice treatment, it is safe to limit it to 20 minutes per session, with at least 2 hours interval between each session. It will alleviate pain without injuring your skin.
One more item many of the patients found useful is moisturizer or creams. In the hospital, the air is generally dry, and it can make your skin a little itchy.
A nice, gentle massage of your exposed body parts with moisturizing lotion can also increase blood circulation, which is good for post-surgery healing.
Now is the time to look at things that will make your bathroom visits comfortable. The first item in the list is a toilet riser, which increases the toilet seat’s height by up to 8 inches.
It is a rounded plastic piece that sits on the existing seat and makes it easier for you to get on and off the toilet seat.
When it’s time to shower, having a shower seat will help reduce the risk of accidental falls. Also, with it, a shower brush can help you clean yourself without uncomfortable twisting or reaching.
Following your surgery, your back will be stiff, and it may be excruciating to stretch enough to scratch your back. A back scratcher can help with that when you need to scratch.
Besides its utility in the shower, a backscratcher can also help reach itchy spots on your back or lower legs without you bending your back.
Lastly, a grabbing tool can be very convenient when you can’t make certain bending or stretching movements. You may keep it near the place you plan to spend most of your time so that you can use it when you need to get hold of things out of your reach.
Take rest and entertain yourself
For much of your time after back surgery, you will be non-active physically with restricted mobility. So, having some entertainment will help you pass your time easily.
You may get some books or magazines from a local library or a book store if you love to read. Doing crosswords and adult coloring books can also be a great distraction from your pain.
If reading books is not your favorite pastime, a wireless Internet connection, and a laptop or tablet can help you stay connected and entertained during your recovery.
Also, it may be an excellent time to use your streaming subscription. Your favorite series and movies are excellent ways to escape from your pain and become part of someone else’s story.
Besides video streaming and movies, you may also want to load up your device with your favorite numbers. On the other hand, nowadays, music streaming services like Spotify or Pandora can get you access to unlimited music without planning and downloading the songs to your devices.
Now, this is very important if you live alone after your back surgery. You should ensure that you have someone close by to check on you daily. It will help in managing unforeseen circumstances.
You will have to arrange for somebody who can help clean your home for the first few weeks will be needed. In winters, you may also need to have some friends, family members, or paid professionals to help you with shoveling snow, or if it is summer, mowing the grass.
Also, you may request a friend to drive you to your follow-up appointments. However, if nobody is available, you should learn how to hire a taxi using your phone or an app. It is very crucial if you are on pain medications.
One tip, though, is that you may consider running an ad for help if you live near a university or a college. In this way, you get affordable service, and students earn some money.
Besides making sure you have people or help around you to take care of necessities, it can also be an excellent time to connect with your loved ones you do not often see or talk to.
Focus on healing and holistic wellness
In general, your recovery will be dependent on the quality of rest – physical and mental – you take.
Adequate sleep is vital while you heal after back surgery. To achieve that, a comfortable mattress and a set of pillows will be your best friends.
You should ensure that you understand from your surgeon about how soon you can start walking. Starting with short walks, you can work up to 10K steps daily as per the schedule your doctor recommends you.
Hopefully, the surgery will get you rid of your chronic back pain. However, if you still have pain after the initial phase of your healing or cannot tolerate your pain, you should contact your doctor or a physician in your vicinity.
Before going to the surgery, ask around to get a reputable pain physician, and contact her office to ensure she enlists you should need her services. Whether it’s your primary caregiver or your surgeon, be sure you know who you can contact.