How Soon Can I Get Out of Bed After Spinal Fusion Surgery?
We’ve addressed preparations for back surgery in recent blogs and specifically the surgery for spinal stenosis and fusion operations. Yet, the recovery process is just as necessary as the back surgery itself to your long-term health, so prepare well for postoperative routines and realities before the surgery is performed.
Among the first questions patients often ask about the spinal fusion back surgery recovery process is how soon they will get out of bed following the operation. Patients typically get out of bed the day after their surgery – with the help of attendants, who will assist you in sitting up, getting your legs over the side of the bed, standing up, and walking. You’ll be glad that you spent time getting in shape before your operation. The preparation pays off at times like this, as being in good health will help throughout your healing and recovery, as the body responds to the trauma of surgery and works to repair itself.
Movement is indeed critical to proper healing, and since you’ll spend a good deal of time in bed in the first days after the spinal fusion operation, it’s essential to learn how to move correctly in bed. We’ll show you the best way to turn over, sit up, and move in ways that will promote proper healing, strengthen muscles and minimize pain.
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Tips to prep for surgery and ease recovery
All surgeries involve certain risks in one way or another, such as infection, bleeding, or nerve damage. E.g., if you suffer from osteochondrosis, problems with other discs may occur. In most cases, such complications are associated with the rigid spinal fusion structure, where the load on the vertebrae is unevenly distributed. Therefore, people may feel unable to do some movements. Joints perform a dual function that leads to degenerative changes.
On the other hand, a spinal stenosis surgery implant is a more effective treatment for certain spine diseases. But the healing process can take several months, especially if the patient is overweight or has poor muscle tone. At the stage of preparation for surgery, you’d change your lifestyle and take the following steps:
- Stop smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs – these can reduce the ability to heal;
- Control the course of any illness, including colds, flu, or herpes;
- Talk with your healthcare provider about your current medications and how your treatment will change after invasive therapy. That includes anticoagulants (for example, warfarin), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.).
Getting out of bed after back surgery will go smoothly, and you’ll be able to get up and walk unaided in a few days and soon even go home to recover. Some elderly or debilitated patients may consider visiting a rehabilitation center for about a week. That will help strengthen a back and learn how to move safely.
The hospital regimen in the first days after the operation provides instructions on how to get around, as flexibility will be limited. Patients often receive pain relievers and wear a brace to maintain the correct spine position. By the way, prescription opioids shouldn’t be consumed with alcohol. You can also replace them with more traditional methods – e.g., cold or heat wraps for 15-20 minutes with a break of 2 hours between procedures. A separate topic is the resumption of a diet consisting of solid food. Also, general anesthesia requires fasting for at least 8 hours before the intervention. On the day of surgery, only a sip of water is allowed to take medicine.
When you’re in better physical condition before surgery, healing time can be shortened, e.g., doing all kinds of exercises recommended by doctors, physical therapy, undergoing a course of massages, etc. This is how you can strengthen your back muscles. Subsequently, they’ll better support the spine, and you won’t wonder how to get in and out of bed after back surgery. In any case, a sedentary lifestyle puts a greater risk of wear and tear on the vertebrae located above and below the immobilized part.
How to heal faster after back surgery?
Anything that was inconvenient or seemed impossible before the operation became available. Postoperative care is directly related to the initial preparation phase, namely the layout of your home. Oddly enough, but it’s essential to have a spacious bathroom with a shower and a rug so as not to slip, a firm mattress so that the process of getting in and out of bed after back surgery is as painless and gentle as possible for the operated area. Consider placing a portable small refrigerator and cooler in the room, as well as blankets and other supplies so that you can easily access them. You can also utilize a grabber to lift items off the ground and shelves (find them in pharmacies or specialized stores). For elderly patients who have difficulty walking, sticks or walkers are recommended. A soft lounge chair, unlike a regular chair, can reduce the load on the lumbar region. In general, you need to take care of preventing falls: remove objects through which there is a possibility of tripping, install handrails as required (e.g., in the shower, on the stairs). This way, you can recover in a safe environment. Household chores after discharge are also best left to family members, a home care aide, or a caregiver.
Here are some tips on how to get out of bed after back surgery faster.
Take short walks
For recovery to take place as quickly as possible and for the load on the spine to be optimal, it’s necessary to take short walks every 30 minutes. For example, if you sit for most of the day, you’d learn the most ergonomic position. Use supports with a low back or unique chairs that allow you to maintain correct posture.
Please note that after surgery, you’d avoid long car trips.
Learn to sit properly
Sitting with knees higher than hips has a negative effect on the spine. Therefore, try to get up slowly: move to the edge of the seat and utilize the armrests to push upward. Focus on your feet.
Avoid some movement
Bending, lifting, twisting, and driving – all these activities are prohibited in the early stages of recovery. For example, flexion at the knees and hips is perfectly acceptable, but not the spine. Remember: don’t lift anything that weighs more than a gallon of milk (about 8 pounds)! It’d also be borne in mind that due to drowsiness, impaired judgment, and poor coordination – side effects of prescription opioid pain relievers, driving is prohibited during the recovery period.
Sleep in a new way
Sleep is critical to the body’s recovery – the immune system is involved in reducing inflammation. Of course, it can be difficult to fall asleep at times, especially since now you have to consider the new rules of rest.
So, utilize the log technique – keep your knees together and keep your back straight. Remember how geisha slept in ancient Japan? They rested their necks on wooden supports while the load was transferred to the upper spine and shoulders. You have to do something similar in everyday life: sleep with your head in the pillow, with a rolled-up blanket under your knees. So your legs will be slightly bent, so there will be no intense pressure on the operated area.
Take care of the wound
It would be best if you did manipulations to cleanse the wound daily. In addition, it’s worth checking it for infection. If you notice signs of suppuration, redness, swelling, or palpation of the wound that causes too painful sensations, you’d urgently consult your doctor. Occasionally, an infection may cause fever and chills. Don’t take a bath; take a shower instead and use a soft sponge only.
Today, many candidates for spinal fusion surgery can opt for the TOPS (Total Posterior Solution) System instead. The TOPS™ implant has been shown to have better clinical outcomes and fewer post-surgical complications than spinal fusion. And unlike spine fusion procedures, the TOPS™ device preserves the full range of each vertebra’s motion. Patients concerned about how soon they can get out of bed following spine fusion back surgery should make sure they’re familiar with all their surgical options, as the choices they make can also affect their recovery.
Your caregivers will have plenty of valuable tips for helping ensure a smooth, steady recovery from spinal fusion. For example, such simple tips will help you rehabilitate more quickly and with less discomfort:
- using slip-on shoes, eliminating the need to bend over and tie laces;
- having pajamas with button tops, so you don’t have to lift your arms and pull the PJs over your head
- drinking liquids from a squeeze bottle, so there’s no need to bend the neck when drinking from a cup.
But it’s essential to take care of your physical condition even before the operation since the timing of your recovery depends on it.