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Post Op Day 2

Surgery Recovery

You had spinal surgery two days ago – perhaps it was for a simple but persistent pinched nerve, or maybe it was a treatment for a spinal cord injury. Yesterday was your first post-operative day. You were groggy and uncomfortable, but you sensed already that something inside has been fixed, that you’re not under the same internal stress as you were before you were admitted for surgery some 48 hours ago. Possibly you spent the first night in the Intensive Care Unit, or ICU, as planned before surgery, in order to be ready for any post operative complications your spine surgeon was concerned about, due to the particulars of your spinal problem or health history. But now you’re in a regular hospital room. You had your first visit with your physical therapist yesterday and likely you got out of bed and were able to walk to a chair across the room and sit on it.

Today, on your second post-surgery day, your physical therapist will gently encourage you to do more. In fact, every day the goal of recovery is to do a little more than you did the day before. You probably have some incision related pain, and arm or leg pain may be felt periodically. That’s because the nerves have been irritated by the condition addressed by your back surgery – in fact, they can be further irritated by the surgery itself. This is a sign that the healing is progressing as anticipated. You are on the path to recovery!

If you had a non-fusion surgical procedure, such as is often performed today to treat conditions including spinal stenosis, or nerve compression problems that cause sciatica, or pinched nerves, your recovery will be much more rapid than if you underwent traditional lumbar fusion surgery to correct the problem. That’s why it’s important to review all your surgical options, and work with a back surgeon who is familiar and experienced with the latest advanced surgical procedures, so you can be sure you have access to the widest range of treatment options. For example, if you need spinal decompression surgery, now you can select the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Solution) System to stabilize the spine instead of spinal fusion back surgery, as has been the procedure commonly used after surgical decompression of the spine. The TOPS System provides better clinical outcomes than spinal fusion therapy, and preserves the natural, independent motion of the individual vertebrae, unlike fusion surgery.

Back surgery can provide tremendous relief for back problems when conservative treatment options fail. But it’s important for patients to be familiar with all their treatment options! That will help ensure your Post Op Day 2 – and all that follow – go a well as possible!

How do I Care for Myself at Home After My Spinal Surgery?

After Surgery Care

Patients scheduled for back surgery are rightfully concerned about their recuperation, and how they will care for themselves once home after the spinal surgery procedure. This is an important subject to discuss with your spine surgeon. Some general rules apply to all patients following back surgery. First and foremost, plan on taking an active role in your recovery, and that starts by getting into shape before your back surgery. With your surgeon, physical therapist and others, discuss what activities you can engage in as well as restrictions you need to observe. If you don’t have someone who can provide the assistance you will need in the first days after your return home following back surgery, a home attendant will be provided for you. You will be prescribed pain medications, which help you heal by letting your muscles relax, instead of contracting and writhing in reaction to pain. Let your body rest. You may require frequent naps, as your body recovers from the stress of surgery, and narcotic pain medications induce drowsiness.

But pain medications can also have negative side effects, and if continued their use will prolong recovery time and lead to dependency. Narcotic pain medications cause constipation. Weaning yourself off pain medication should be a recuperation goal. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids during this recovery period. You should be off pain medication three months after surgery. Walking is the best physical activity during the first six weeks post surgery. Start slowly and work up to 30 minutes at least twice a day. Avoid twisting and bending during this time, and avoid lifting, pushing or pulling anything that weighs more than ten pounds.

Another step you can take to ease post-surgery care is select the procedure with the best outcomes and fewest post-surgical complications for the treatment of your condition. For example, the TOPS (Total Posterior Solution) System has been shown in clinical studies around the world to provide better clinical outcomes than spinal fusion back surgery following spinal decompression therapy. TOPS is an approved implant that offers a means of stabilizing the spine after spinal decompression treatment. Unlike spine fusion surgery, the TOPS implant preserves independent movement of the vertebrae. Making sure you choose the procedure with the best clinical outcomes can help ensure you’ll have the best possible recovery.

What is Neural Claudication?

Neurologic Claudication

Recently we addressed the topic of claudication, pain typically felt in the legs as a result of vascular, or blood vessel problems, or back problems such as spinal stenosis that can result in pinched nerves in the lower back. Neurogenic claudication is a common symptom of lumbar spinal stenosis, an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal in the lumbar, or lower portion of the spine. Neurogenic refers to the problem’s genesis in the nerves, and claudication, Latin for limp, refers to the painful weakness or cramping the patient feels in his or her legs. Neurogenic claudication can be bilateral (in both legs) or unilateral (in one leg).  The pain may be triggered by walking or prolonged standing, and is typically alleviated by changing position or flexion of the waist, not simply by resting, as happens with vascular claudication.  In severe cases, the pain may be persistent. Bone spurs, bulging discs and herniated discs can also cause neurogenic claudication.

Conservative treatments such as physical therapy, medications and injections may be sufficient to relieve neurogenic claudication, but surgery may be recommended in moderate to severe cases that don’t respond to conservative protocols. Spinal decompression surgery is typically performed to remove portions of the vertebrae impinging on a nerve. This pinched nerve is the source of the pain, weakness and cramping of neurogenic claudication. Following the spinal decompression treatment, a secondary operation is performed to stabilize the spine in the area where vertebral material was removed. In the past, spinal fusion back surgery was the sole available surgical stabilization procedure performed with spinal decompression. However, spine fusion surgery eliminates the natural independent motion of the fused vertebrae, and can contribute to deterioration of adjacent vertebrae. Now the TOPS (Total Posterior Solution) System provides an alternative to spinal fusion that preserves the full range of natural motion of each vertebrae. If you experience pain that interferes with your quality of life, seek qualified medical help. Today’s advanced procedures provide excellent outcomes. Get the facts about all your treatment options.

Caring for Your Spinal Incision

spinal incision

Proper care for the surgical incision is one of the most important aspects of post-operative home recuperation following back surgery. The surgical incision may be closed with dissolvable sutures and steri-strips, staples, or sutures. Staples or visible sutures should be removed 14 days following the spinal surgery. You won’t be permitted to apply any ointments or lotions to the incision while it is healing. You should not bathe in a tub, swim, or use a hot tub until your incision is healed, either.

Like all other aspects of back surgery, patients should take an active role in ensuring the healing process for their surgical incision goes as smoothly as possible. Adopting the healthy habits and lifestyle choices that promote all other areas of recovery will have an equally beneficial impact on the healing of your surgical incision. Your preparation for back surgery should have started you on this path as you adjusted your diet and physical activities to get healthy not only for your surgery, but for your recovery process. It’s also important to rigorously follow your doctor’s orders about what medications to avoid, as some can interfere with the healing process.

Fortunately, the last few years have seen a revolution in back surgery procedures and outcomes, thanks to minimally invasive procedures that require much smaller incisions, among other advantages over traditional open back surgery. These advances continue apace. For example, spinal fusion back surgery, the traditional procedure performed in conjunction with spinal decompression surgery, has been supplanted in many cases by use of the TOPS (Total Posterior Solution) System. A spinal implant, the TOPS System procedure is minimally invasive, and has been shown in clinical trials around the globe to provide superior outcomes for patients who undergo treatments such as lumbar laminectomy or other spinal decompression therapy for conditions such as spinal stenosis or pinched nerve or relieve symptoms of sciatica. As the example of the TOPS System indicates, these advances in minimally invasive back surgery techniques mean not only fewer problems with the healing of surgical incisions, but better outcomes overall.

Having a Pinched Nerve in Your Lower Back

Lower Back Pain

A pinched nerve can cause pain and restrict one’s mobility. The condition occurs when surrounding bone, muscle, cartilage or other tissue impinges on a nerve. Though pinched nerves can occur almost anywhere, the spine, and in particular pinched nerve in the lower back, or lumbar region, accounts for a significant percentage of cases. That’s because of the spine’s complex skeletal structure and the stresses placed on the lower back. This condition is referred to as a pinched lumbar nerve. Nerves of the lumbar spine extend throughout the pelvis, legs, pelvis and feet. The sciatic nerve, for example, is the longest nerve in the body, and a pinched sciatic nerve can cause a variety of pain, tingling, and other symptoms that are referred to as sciatica. Depending on the exact nerve and the extent of the pressure, a pinched nerve can cause symptoms from mild discomfort to sharp, shooting pains, tingling, weakness, loss of reflexes and motor skills, and atrophy, or withering of affected muscles.

If the pressure on the nerves is only temporary, the symptoms of pinched nerve will resolve on their own, and full functioning will return. When the condition fails to resolve without intervention, treatment options for pinched nerve therapy include rest, special exercises, manipulation to relieve pressure on the nerves, and medication to relax muscles and reduce inflammation of affected nerves. The best therapy is preventive. Pinched nerve and many other spinal problems can be avoided by maintaining good posture, remaining fit and at a reasonable weight, and avoiding unnecessarily straining the back. In cases where preventive or conventional therapies are ineffective, surgery for pinched nerve is an effective option.

Spinal decompression surgery is recommended for some patients who don’t respond to conservative treatments. Spinal decompression therapy can have a dramatic affect on relieving the symptoms of a pinched nerve in the lower back. Typically, spinal fusion back surgery is performed in conjunction with decompression surgery to stabilize the spine. Today, the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Spine) System provides an alternative to spinal fusion. Unlike spinal fusion, TOPS preserves the full range of the spine’s natural motion, and has been shown to provide better outcomes than fusion in clinical studies performed around the world. This represents a great new option for some individuals affected by pinched nerves in the lower back.

What is Radiculopathy?

Radiculopathy

Radiculopathy is a term that refers to chronic injuries that result from the bones of the spinal column (vertebrae), or the cushioning discs between them, impinging on the root of a nerve in the spinal column. The symptoms of radiculopathy may be felt all the way to the tips of fingers or toes, even though the nerve compression occurs at the base of the nerve in the spine. Common symptoms include numbness, tingling, weakness, loss of motor function, and radiating pain.

Radiculopathy can result from lack of proper blood flow and progressive disease, or from repetitive or stressful physical activities, such as in jobs that involve heavy lifting or repetitive motions. A genetic predisposition and the presence of other spine disorders also increase one’s risk of developing spinal radiculopathy. Degenerative disc disease associated with the normal aging process can also cause this condition. Treatment options for radiculopathy include physical therapy, medication, and relaxation. For patients whose radiculopathy is not relieved by conservative treatment, spinal decompression therapy may be recommended. During this procedure, the portion of a vertebra impinging on the nerve root is trimmed away. This can provide dramatic relief from radiculopathy symptoms. Traditionally, spinal fusion back surgery has been performed in conjunction with spinal decompression to stabilize the spine at the point of the operation. Unfortunately, spinal fusion eliminates the natural independent motion of the fused vertebrae, and may contribute to deterioration of adjacent vertebrae. Today there is an alternative: the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Spine) System implant preserves the natural motion of the spine and has been shown in clinical studies around the world to provide better clinical outcomes than spinal fusion. With major medical advances occurring at a rapid pace today, it’s important to be aware of all the latest treatment options for any condition for which you are seeking medical treatment.

What is Lumbar Radiculopathy?

Lumbar Radiculopathy Education

If the vertebrae (the bones of the spine), or the cushioning discs between them impinge on the root of a nerve in the spinal column, chronic injuries to the nerve may result. Radiculopathy is the general term for these injuries. The condition most commonly occurs in the lower, or lumbar region of the spine, termed lumbar radiculopathy. Radiculopathy may also occur in the neck, or cervical region of the spine, which is termed cervical radiculopathy. Common symptoms include radiating pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, and loss of motor function. These symptoms may be felt all the way to the tips of the fingers or toes, even though the nerve injury is at the base of the nerve at the spine. Radiculopathy symptoms felt in the arms and hands are usually caused by cervical radiculopathy while those in the back of the leg and the foot usually result from lumbar radiculopathy.

Degenerative disc disease, a normal part of the aging process, can cause this condition, as can repetitive or stressful physical activities. Occupations that require repetitive motions or heavy lifting are common cause of lumbar radiculopathy. Being overweight or in poor physical health can also contribute to radiculopathy. Improper blood flow and progressive disease can also lead to the condition. A genetic predisposition and the presence of other spine disorders also increase one’s risk of developing spinal radiculopathy.

Physical therapy, medication, and relaxation are often prescribed successfully to treat lumbar radiculopathy. Spinal decompression surgery combined with spinal fusion back surgery has been a common treatment modality for patients who do not respond to conservative treatments. Today the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Spine) System, a new advance, can be performed as an alternative to spinal fusion. Unlike fusion, the TOPS System preserves the full natural range of motion of the individual vertebrae, which is lost when the bones are fused. The TOPS System has also been shown to provide superior outcomes in clinical studies around the world. Advances like these give individuals with back problems ever more, and more effective, treatment options.