How soon can you return to athletics after spinal surgery?

by admin

Near the top of the list of questions from almost every spinal surgery, the patients indicate how long they will have to wait for the following surgery before resuming their everyday activities. When it includes athletics – golf and tennis, bowling and the like, pastimes that put tremendous strain on the back – the answer becomes more complex. The factors influencing the time before patients can get back in the game include their physical condition and health. Just because one engages in strenuous physical activity doesn’t mean they are in good physical condition or health. Recovery times are faster for surgery patients in good physical shape because their bodies heal more quickly. Of course, the operation itself will play a significant role in deciding when you’ll be back on the tennis courts, golf course, taking a job, or engaging in a simple walk. The postoperative physical therapy program also plays a significant role. But the type of back surgery is the primary factor affecting the time required to get back into sports activities.

How to recover from surgery if you are an athlete or cannot live without daily activity – read further in this article.

Table of contents

  1. What does it mean to be in recovery?
  2. Exercises after surgery
  3. Conclusion

What does it mean to be in recovery?

While many people consider back surgery as the end of a promising sports career, Olympic, amateur, or professional athletes have returned to their competition after many common types of operations. General physical condition, professionalism during surgery, and spine rehabilitation affect how quickly you return to the game. Here are some tips for athletes planning to return to sport after a minimally invasive intervention. 

Follow your doctor’s recommendations

In most cases, surgeons consult about postoperative care. They depend not only on the patient’s health and medical history but also on the desire to return to sports. We previously discussed lower back surgery recovery: diet, exercise, physical therapy, massages, proper wound care, and medication support are vital aspects of recovery. Of course, you shouldn’t neglect motivation and grit to achieve success. And if your competition is right around the corner, and you’re still in the hospital ward, this is not a reason to be upset. Your orthopedic surgeon will take this into account when planning your postoperative period. Of course, everyone wants to leave and start an everyday life immediately. Still, following the recommendations, you’ll be able to return to sports faster than causing implicit harm to your body during self-rehabilitation. Returning too early cancels not only the healing but the operation’s effectiveness. 

So, a doctor’s advice may include:

  • doing certain exercises
  • wearing compression bandages, insoles, and stockings to avoid the risk of complications
  • A diet that includes vitamin and mineral complexes
  • A set of particular activities after back surgery.

Define your limits

You’d also talk to your coach about your career prospects or options (if you’re an amateur athlete) when getting approval from your PCP to return to athletics. It’s essential to be careful and aware of the limitations.

The postoperative stage depends on the patient, understanding the symptoms of complications, and a quick reaction if something goes wrong. E.g., accurately characterizing the level of pain and discomfort, reporting aches, numbness of the limbs, dizziness, suppuration in the wound area doesn’t mean a step back in the rehabilitation progress, but on the contrary, the ability to accelerate after a slight slowdown. Try to protect the spine, especially in the early stages of recovery. Respect your body and its healing times. 

Don’t forget about the course of drugs

Infections at the site of the surgical incision most often occur 2–4 weeks after the intervention. Most often, the following symptoms appear:

  • redness and suppuration at the incision site;
  • back pain that gets worse;
  • fever and fever;
  • change in consistency, odor, and color of drainage.

It’s essential to treat any of these and some other signs as they arise. If ignored, unavoidable consequences may occur. 

For patients with deep infection, a course of intravenous antibiotics is often given for about two months. Chronic contamination leads to the removal of the implant. 

Keep the wound clean: it must be washed with water and soap at least once a day. Remember to keep the wound dry for healing and crusting. It’s undesirable to utilize ointments, lotions, body creams on the operated areas. After two weeks, when the staples or stitches are removed, you may return to bathing or swimming. 

For opioid pain relievers, discontinuation usually occurs within the first few weeks, at most a month. There are other pain management options, such as using acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. But, as in the first case, they have their pros and cons and depend on the medical history. By combining medicines with physical therapy, you can achieve impressive results. 

It’s no secret that athletes’ dedication to the postoperative rehabilitation program greatly influences their subsequent success. Depending on overall progress in physical therapy, you may get consent to exercise, but return to activity must be gradual and gentle to avoid unnecessary risks.

Exercises after surgery

Patients, who have undergone minimally invasive TOPS™ procedures, can usually regain a full and painless range of motion. They have the greatest likelihood of returning to sport at pre-injury levels. Conversely, most exercises after spinal fusion aren’t available to athletes, and the possibility of injury increases – they’re less likely to return to athletics. Any collisions and falls will negatively affect health.

In any case, physiotherapy is a panacea for healing – movement combined with other aspects of rehabilitation can give you a chance for a better life. Let’s consider the leading practices that are useful for patients in the postoperative period.

Walking

It’s worth moving daily to improve blood circulation and speed up the healing of muscles and spine tissues. E.g., an essential therapy is walking, which can support the normal functioning of the heart and lungs. An upright position of the body is the best activity for the spine after surgery – this way, you can protect the discs from unnecessary stress. So, start with simple walks, and then work with your coach to develop your exercise program.

Bench press

That’s one of the simplest and effective therapies utilized in various types of operations. For instance, laminectomy recovery exercises are invaluable as they help protect discs and strengthen your back muscles.

This exercise is valuable because the discs hold the lower back during flexion and extension of the lumbar spine. So, to perform the training, you need to do the following steps:

  1. Lie face down with your arms parallel to your body.
  2. The back and hips should be relaxed. Gently lift your upper body while leaning on your stomach. Feel light pressure in your lumbar region.
  3. Hold this position for about two seconds and slowly lower yourself to the floor. Do ten hikes.

Straight leg raise (SLR) 

To strengthen the muscles of the lower back, it’s worth doing the SLR exercise. To do this, while lying on your stomach, slowly and alternately lift each leg up. In doing so, try to tighten your abdominal muscles. Do an exercise with a delay of two seconds at the highest point of the limb position. As before, do ten reps per set. Such a physiotherapy approach is appropriate for laminectomy, fusion, microdiscectomy, decompression, and of course, implantation.

In some cases, the surgical treatment chosen for a given spinal condition will affect not only the time needed to get back on the playing field but the degree to which you will ever be able to recover your old form. Take the stabilization procedure following spinal decompression surgery, for example. Spinal decompression is performed to relieve pressure on nerves within or emanating from the spine caused by conditions including spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and other degenerative changes or as a result of spinal cord trauma. Spinal fusion back surgery has been the primary stabilization procedure. But the fused vertebrae lose their independent motion following stabilization. Often, patients are restricted from physical activity for up to 6 months while waiting for the biological fusion process to complete. Today, the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Solution) System provides an alternative to spinal fusion. The TOPS™ System, a surgical implant, stabilizes the spine while preserving each vertebra’s independent motion – and the good news is that there are no restrictions on your physical activity after surgery. That’s going to ensure better performance whenever it’s time to get back in the game.

Conclusion

As you improve your range of motion in your spine, it’s time to start doing more challenging activities that will help you get back to working condition. To do this, discuss a possible change in activity with a PCP and trainer and adjust the training schedule. After implantation, you don’t have to worry that you can’t perform some exercises. The TOPS™ System is an alternative to spinal fusion and allows you to perform any range of movements required for warm-up, training, and cool-down.

How Long Does it Take to Recover From Spinal Surgery?

by admin

Any surgery is a serious stress for the body. Therefore, even if the surgeon who performed the operation is a true genius of medicine and everything went well, postoperative rehabilitation is necessary to restore the body’s strength and functions fully.

Spine Surgery Recovery

In recent years, there has been a tendency to increase the incidence of spine disease, which is primarily due to lack of adequate exercise, poor nutrition, and a sedentary lifestyle in the era of total computerization. That consequently leads to a decrease in the tone of the torso muscles that hold the spine.

Thus, in the developed countries of the world, osteochondrosis of the spine is 90% of the total number of dystrophic diseases of the spine.

Recovering from back surgery happens in entirely different ways, as there are four main types, each of which has a different effect on the body.

Discectomy

That’s the removal of the disc that separates the vertebrae and helps support part of your spinal column. The intervention can be performed with different surgical techniques under general or spinal anesthesia.

Such an operation is prescribed for injuries or degeneration of the spinal cushion, with osteochondrosis or hernia. Disease symptoms are as follows: localized pain and numbness or extremities tingling.

Recovery from the procedure is often quick, but the patient continues to feel pain. There may also be numbness or weakness in the nerve pathway that has been exposed to high pressure.

Foraminotomy

Foraminal Therapy is applied to patients who have been diagnosed with spinal canal stenosis, a gradual narrowing of the vertebrae openings on any part of the back (cervical, thoracic, lumbar). That’s a manipulation of the spinal nerve roots that requires repositioning the tissues and cutting the bone to relieve pressure on the nerve. The procedure involves access to each vertebral level, so the incision length depends on the desired operable area.

The practice of recovery from lower back surgery shows slow and steady progress: patients can be exposed to light physical activity and also drive a car after eight weeks. Complete healing occurs within 18 months.

Laminectomy

That’s the removal of the plate, bone spurs, ligaments, as well as the back of the bones that make up the vertebrae to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves or spine. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and mechanical ventilation.

Laminectomy is usually performed for lingering back or neck pain and nerve damage symptoms such as limb weakness and numbness. Patients can often lose control of bowel movements and urination. Complications such as bleeding, infections, blood clots, and nerve root damage can occur with this type of intervention.

After the operation, a mandatory stay in the hospital for up to several days is required, and most likely, in the evening, you won’t be able to walk as with TOPS™ implantation. Of course, any mobility will be controlled with medication: you’ll have to overcome pain to do any exercise constantly. When caring for the sick, it’s necessary to follow clear rules for bathing, walking, and sleeping. It’ll take at least 3-4 months for your bones to heal well, and recovery will take place gradually over a year.

If your diagnosis is spine arthrodesis, but you’re young and healthy, then the possibility of work will still be excluded for a period of up to 6 weeks. On the other hand, older people will have to fight for every movement: it’ll take 4-6 months for them to recover.

Spinal fusion

It’s the fusion of two bones in the back. Today, the procedure is considered outdated and incomplete among doctors: its peak came at the turn of the 20th century and required great care and planning from the patient and the surgeon. Previously, it was prescribed to patients with osteochondrosis or other diseases that didn’t respond to conservative treatment.

The fusion aims to prevent pain by immobilizing a specific spine area and is very dangerous in everyday life. Specialized titanium screws, rods, and plates are designed to maintain the rigidity and stability of two or more vertebral segments, which will be a monolithic bone structure after surgery. Such an operation is often delayed up to 8 hours. Recovery time to spinal fusion is also very long and takes from 6 months to a year. Its duration depends on your preoperative state: if you’re in good physical shape and have a healthy lifestyle, it promises the best predictions.

TOPS™ system

The TOPS™ implant maintains the mobility of the vertebral segment while the upper and lower vertebrae don’t suffer from increased stress as in previous procedures. Such a design doesn’t immobilize a person but gives the whole range of movements. The operation is considered minimally invasive, and its average duration is about 60-120 minutes. There is also an early clinically significant reduction in pain compared to the patient’s baseline.

Complications during implantation are much less common than in previous procedures. E.g., only one patient had an asymptomatic screw halo in the postoperative period six months later. However, the process involved changing the screw position, which could probably be the reason for the above conclusion. Also, after 36 months, one patient showed progressive degenerative changes.

Many specialists have inclined to therapy with no fusion spinal surgery in recent years but based on safety and positive results of clinical trials.

Recovery from lower back surgery will depend on your preparedness in the preoperative period: the level of activity and physical fitness will affect the rapid progress. You will be able to walk and move on the next day after the intervention – the maximum stay in the hospital for patients in four days. Achievement of the expected level of mobility is reached already at 4-6 weeks and depends on the correct rehabilitation approaches and a course of physiotherapy. Using nutrients to improve recovery and healing is another aspect of quick recovery.

How does nutrition help you recover?

Research shows that using spinal surgery recovery vitamins and other supplements helps the body rehabilitate better. Immune nutrition minimizes the risk of complications such as infection. Oral supplements are commonly used in tablets, or the liquid is given intravenously. Arginine, glutamine, omega-3 fatty acids, nucleotides, and antioxidants are the primary nutrients for healing after injuries such as osteochondrosis, herniated discs, and surgery. Let’s take a look at each substance.

Arginine

It’s an amino acid that the human body produces in small quantities. The supplement is so valuable that it increases the ability to fight infections.

Foods containing arginine are nuts, seeds, legumes, poultry (especially turkey).

Glutamine

The amino acid can be synthesized in sufficient quantities. It participates in biological processes that control cell growth and also reduces the risk of infections.

You can get glutamine naturally by eating beef, eggs, rice, corn, and soy cheese.

Omega-3

Reduces the body’s inflammatory response, which is a source of persistent back pain. Salmon, eggs, nuts, flax, spinach, and other leafy vegetables contain omega-3.

Nucleotides

DNA and RNA are made up of nucleotides, which are their formative and supportive components. The human body synthesizes and processes nucleotides, but they can additionally come from food. Sources of nucleotides are foods of plant and animal origin.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, selenium. They reduce oxidative stress associated with chronic inflammation.

Examples of naturally occurring antioxidants include leafy greens, nuts, fruits, seeds, and whole grains.

To understand how long the recovery from back fusion surgery is, consider its risks. There can be a difficult struggle with the arising complications, where the correct diet and universal rehabilitation methods aren’t always appropriate. On the other hand, with the TOPS™ implant, healing will be much faster as the risks of infections and bleeding are minimized.

What difficulties do patients face after surgery? 

First of all, it is a pain and fear that will increase with movement. Therefore, the patients often limit themselves, thus delaying recovery.

It may seem that rehabilitation of the spine is not necessary, as if you can go home after surgery and get treated there. But this is really a very risky intention, and if you do so, you may stay bedridden forever.

Spinal surgery can provide dramatic relief for people with moderate to severe spinal problems that do not respond to conventional conservative therapy. For example, spinal decompression can remove pressure on nerves, relieve pain and restore mobility in many such patients.

Spine surgery recovery time varies depending on the procedure. The main purpose of rehabilitation is to restore the full range of motion, as well as the formation of a capable muscular corset.

Here are the methods used: the simplest exercises, supervision, and support of a doctor, physiotherapy procedures, classes on the simulators and in the pool, therapeutic baths, massage, reflexology, psychological support.

First, the physiological therapist examines the postoperative card, the features of surgery. Then, in collaboration with other specialists, create a method of treatment. The method of treatment includes two sides, physical and psychological. These two methods perfectly complement each other and give a great result together. 

The recovery time

If you’re a candidate for spinal surgery, it’s important to understand all aspects of the procedure and its aftermath. One of the most important questions these patients should have answers to is the length of time required to recover from spinal surgery.

Recovery time from back surgery depends on the form of surgery. There are two forms of back surgery: procedures where vertebrae are fused together versus procedures that do not immobilize the spine. Recovery from fusion surgery can take longer than the recovery time from back surgeries that only involve a decompression or a surgery that preserves motion. Your physician can tell you more about the recovery time required for a particular procedure. But it’s important for patients to consider outcomes as well as recovery time.

Effects achieved after physical rehabilitation:

  •     improving blood circulation;
  •     elimination of edema and pain;
  •     healing of sutures and soft tissues;
  •     increase muscle strength;
  •     improving bone growth;
  •     restoration of physiological movements of the spine;
  •     activation of global muscles;
  •     synchronization of work of all parts of a body;
  •     prevention of secondary diseases. 

For example, spinal decompression surgery has traditionally been performed in conjunction with spinal fusion back surgery. As part of the recovery process, restrictions on motions and activities are placed on the patient to allow the previously independent vertebral bodies to biologically fuse together and become one long rigid segment devoid of motion. In contrast, with the TOPS™ System, an alternative to spinal fusion following a spinal decompression procedure, there are no restrictions placed on the patient. You maintain a full range of independent vertebral motion after surgery, and the patient dictates the speed of recovery from this back surgery. You can increase your activity level as quickly as you want.

When should you start spine surgery recovery?

The answer is simple — the sooner, the better. Rehabilitation treatment should begin immediately after surgery and continue until an acceptable result is achieved. The rehabilitation process is no less important than the success of the operation itself.

Timely physical and psychological rehabilitation helps to pass the adaptation period quickly and without consequences. The doctor, before the intervention, must explain its features, course, possible complications. After the operation, he must clearly indicate what restrictions the patient has and when they are removed. In the initial stage, you should use painkillers to reduce discomfort. But by the end of the first week, they should be canceled.

The importance of rehabilitation measures should not be underestimated. Rehabilitation mustn’t cause pain, as muscle spasms can cause a painful reaction. The clinical effect will give a gradual muscle relaxation and increased range of motion in the joints.

The patient should be guided in the stages of rehabilitation, know the rules of conduct and the necessary exercises in the postoperative period. It is the doctor who determines how much recovery time is required in each case.

Back surgery treatment doesn’t end when the surgeon completes the operative work. The recovery period is of critical importance in restoring spinal health. Whatever the recovery period requires, make sure you carefully follow your physician’s instructions. And be aware of all your options for spinal surgery, so you’ll have not only the possible shortest recovery time but also the best possible outcome to your back surgery.

The rules of spinal surgery emphasize the consumption of more vegetables and fruits, preference for white meat and fish, the addition of jelly to the diet. After all, these dishes help to restore cartilage.

The rehabilitation program is made individually. It depends on the type of operation, patient’s age and general condition, the recovery period. The activities are planned and carried out under the close supervision of a surgeon, a neurologist, and a physical therapist.

People with low back pain develop a fear of movement, which once again confirms the close connection between biological and psychosocial factors. Often patients avoid the movements that caused the pain, even after recovery. This not only negatively affects the mobility of the spine but can also provoke depression, which increases the risk of recurrence.

How long you will recover after surgery depends on many factors. First of all, it is a method of surgery. Minimally invasive recovery techniques are now increasingly used. After that, the patient returns home for 3-4 days. With traditional interventions, the hospital stay can be extended by 1-1.5 weeks.

Previously, patients were allowed to get out of bed only a day after surgery. Other methods are now being practiced. In a few hours, it is recommended to get to your feet. You may need the help of a nurse. You can walk on the first day for no more than 5-10 minutes, then the load increases.

If the surgery was complex, only passive rehabilitation (massage, passive gymnastics) is used in the first month. The effect begins on the muscles of the thighs, buttocks, pelvis, shoulder girdle, and chest. The operated site is not involved in this period.

Gradually active ones are connected to passive techniques. With a physical therapist, you will learn how to perform exercises for flexibility, strengthening the back muscles properly. You can use gymnastic sticks and rubber bands, expanders, dumbbells, fitness and medicine balls during classes. At a remote stage, join the exercises on a special simulator, a balancer.

One of the causes of lumbar spine surgery is overweight and poor nutrition. Therefore, we recommend that all clients who come for rehabilitation and have signs of obesity consult a nutritionist. The doctor will choose the type of diet that will help normalize body weight and speed recovery.

Spine and lumbar spine surgery is a procedure with a rather lengthy recovery.

Recovering from back surgery requires patience, so during the early stages of recovery from spinal fusion surgery, some basic activity restrictions must be followed:

  • lay face up on the bed;
  • no bending;
  • no lifting;
  • no twisting;
  • no driving.

Young people are generally more capable of a faster recovery from back surgery than their older counterparts.

Conclusion

The purpose of treatment and rehabilitation measures is to remove swelling in the operated area and eliminate pain. Doctors prescribe patients a course of medication and procedures designed to prevent complications after surgery.

Walking is important after spinal surgery, but you must remember to start slowly and follow your doctor’s orders on how much to walk

Do not do strenuous activities, like jogging or golfing; do not do household duties that put a strain on the back, like gardening and vacuuming.

It should not be assumed that six months after the intervention, you can forget about rehabilitation. The degenerative changes in the spine that provoked the hernia do not go away. It is possible to slow down their development and prevent the recurrence of the problem only with the help of exercise, massage, and lifestyle changes. Therefore, most doctors recommend not to stop special classes for the rest of your life.

Take your time, be patient, allow your attendants to help you, and know that each day, with each step, you’re on your way to recovery.

What is a Lumbar Laminectomy?

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Medical terminology doesn’t go out of its way to be complicated or hard to understand. It’s simply that the language has to be very precise, and that much of it comes from Latin. Hence, it can be difficult to decipher some med-speak without a little help. Take the term “lumbar laminectomy,” a fairly common surgical procedure that can help alleviate the pain, mobility limitations, and other symptoms that often accompany medical conditions of the lower spine. Indeed, the word “lumbar” refers to the lower spine. The lumber portion of the spine comprises the lowest five vertebrae of the spinal column, which bear the designation L1 through L5 – “L” standing for lumbar.

Every vertebra in the spinal column is covered in a bony sheath called the lamina, which helps protect

the nerves that run through the spinal column. But sometimes, due to injury, disease, degenerative changes, or other causes, the lamina can put pressure on nerves emanating from the spinal column, a condition referred to as a pinched nerve. Problems within the vertebrae, such as an unnatural narrowing of the spinal canal, a condition called spinal stenosis, can also result in pinched nerves.

When surgery is performed to relieve pressure on a pinched spinal nerve, a procedure called spinal decompression, it requires cutting away the portion of the lamina that is impinging on a nerve or to gain access to the interior of the vertebrae to address a condition such as spinal stenosis. In medicine, the suffix “ectomy” refers to excision or removal. Thus, cutting away a portion of the lamina is a procedure called a laminectomy. So a lumbar laminectomy is an operation in which a portion of the lamina on one of the first five vertebrae is trimmed away. A lumbar laminectomy can achieve dramatic results in alleviating the symptoms of pinched nerves. Traditionally, spinal fusion back surgery was performed in concert with a laminectomy to stabilize the spine at the point of the operation. Now lumbar laminectomy patients have an alternative that provides better outcomes than spinal fusion surgery while preserving the full range of the spine’s motion: The TOPS (Total Posterior Spine) System procedure. If you’re a candidate for a lumbar laminectomy or other spinal decompression procedure, make sure you understand all your treatment options.

What is a Laminectomy 

Lumbar Laminectomy is a spinal surgery involving the removal of the vertebral bone to alleviate symptoms of spinal stenosis. Laminectomy surgery is relatively common for major surgery. Its main function is to reduce spinal pressure on the cord and nerve roots when they are being unnaturally restricted. This surgery is for those suffering from various ailments, including those sustained from past injuries, herniated disks, spinal stenosis, and tumors. While there are alternative methods to try before getting to this point, such as physical therapy, medication, and even injections, some may find this is the only path to relief.

While determining what is a laminectomy, we should deconstruct the name. Lamina is the scientific name for the vertebral bone. This surgery, Lumbar Laminectomy, is the process of removing the vertebral bone to lift pressure surrounding the spinal canal. Pressure is created by things like impacted bone injury, bone overgrowth, or growing tumors. A decompressive laminectomy increases available space and therefore alleviates any pain sufferers may be experiencing. While the surgery itself is great, so are the results. 

What is Spinal Stenosis

If you are considering spinal laminectomy you may likely be suffering from spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is one of the most common spinal ailments. Since stenosis means narrowing or restricting, this condition refers to the unnatural narrowing of the spinal canal. This condition often develops for unknown reasons but can be caused by an overgrowth of either bone or tissue. Some cases may be hereditary, while others arise from an unhealthy lifestyle. 

Options Before Surgery

Everyone can benefit from a healthy lifestyle, including those suffering from spinal stenosis or other spine stemming pain. Simple solutions like a healthy diet, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy BMI can all reduce pain and symptoms. While these are idealistic options, they also are not the solution for everyone. It is possible that someone’s back pain is so great they are limited in the forms of exercise they can partake in.

Physical therapy is another noninvasive option that patients can try before getting a lumbar laminectomy surgery. Because most patients suffer from pain in their back and legs, it can be helpful to have a physical therapist to assist in teaching the body how to move through these debilitating pains in a way that can offer some relief. Physical therapy assigned exercises to have the ability to release pressure similar to surgery, though the effects are often not as long-lasting. 

Medication is also available to those suffering from inescapable pain. Some medications offered can help with both pain and inflammation so that those suffering from spinal stenosis are able to manage their symptoms throughout their day.

While these solutions can help manage and relieve pain, ultimately, they do not offer more stability to a destabilized spine, nor do they permanently create space in the spine where the pressure afflicts. In cases of long-term relief, most find that surgery is necessary to moving forward into a pain-free life.

Laminectomy Surgery

In deciding if surgery is right for you, it helps to know exactly what is to be expected during the procedure. A doctor uses general anesthesia to put the patient under for the duration of the surgery. In the process of the surgery, the surgeon makes a small cut into the back, right over the affected area. They then enter through this cut with small tools to lift the muscle away from the spinal column. The lamina is then removed to create space in the narrowed spinal canal.  In the case of a herniated disk, the doctor can then remove the parts of the disk that have herniated. 

Traditionally after this, the vertebrae would be fused to create stability in the spine to supplement the removed lamina. This is done with either bone graphs, screws, or metal rods. While efficient in rendering the spine functional post-operation, it does create limited mobility that can impede some physical activities.

How to Prepare for Laminectomy Surgery

Laminectomy Surgery is major surgery. Many are intimidated by spinal surgery because it is such a crucial part of our body and people often have a fear of how their life changes after. Here is how to prepare for optimal recovery.

  • Consider your new mobility while you recover. With a limited range of motion, you should consider buying a pair of slip-on shoes to avoid bending down and straining.
  • Ensure frequently used items are in easy-to-access spots. This may look like lowering things from high shelves as well as heightening objects that previously required bending over to reach them. Remember, this is temporary.  Once healed you should be able to reach all these things again without any pain or discomfort. 
  • Do some meal prepping. The less work you have to do while recovering the quicker you heal. This also means you can rely less on others and be more self-sufficient in a time when you may feel dependent on others.
  • Finally, on the day of the surgery, make sure you fast before going in. Like most surgeries that require general anesthesia, you are advised to stop eating and drinking by midnight the night before. Some water is allowed the morning of the surgery, but a full stomach can pose complications once you are under.

Laminectomy Recovery

Once you wake from the surgery your care team checks to ensure everything has gone smoothly and your body has responded well to the spinal laminectomy surgery. While a short hospital stay is typical, some people are released the same day. This means that no matter the case, the comforts of home are not too far away.

Upon returning home, rest! Though it is healing in the long run, your body has just sustained a major injury and needs time and care to recover. Give yourself grace and let people help with things like meals and keeping the house running. Letting yourself rest at this time is crucial for long-term recovery.

It is recommended that you do not work for the first few weeks following a decompressive laminectomy. Those with less physically demanding jobs return to work sooner than those with more labor-intensive jobs. If you have a spinal fusion laminectomy recovery takes longer.

How to Make Spinal Surgery Less Traumatic

The results of lumbar laminectomy, while impressive, may take a while to work. There are records of patients taking up to a full year to complete their laminectomy recovery. Those who do go through with the surgery are also sometimes recommended physical therapy as a part of their recovery process.  This leads to a long and involved path back to normalcy.

If you are looking for a way to make your laminectomy surgery and recovery less traumatic, consider a spinal implant. TOPS system uses an implant after decompression is completed to prevent the necessity for spinal fusion. Where traditionally vertebrae are fused after laminectomy surgery, TOPS implants hold the space where the vertebrae were removed, combining the relief of the surgery with all the mobility and freedom you had before. 

Patients who have had a TOPS System implant report faster and easier laminectomy recoveries than those who received traditional spinal fusions. Because the spine is the foundation of the human body it is important you take the path offering the greatest recovery and mobility post-surgery. Does this look like a spine that has been fused together, or upgraded with an implant?

Life After Laminectomy

While it is a big decision to make, ultimately it comes down to regaining your life. Those who have spinal laminectomy are choosing a life free of debilitating pain and getting back the body they once knew. Lumbar laminectomy patients are often happier and healthier, having chosen the care right for them.

Common Questions About Back Pain: What are the Different Types of Back Surgery

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Back Surgery Can Potentially Cure Your Pain

There are several different types of back surgery proving successful at resolving patients’ back pain issues, each involving the highest level of surgical technology available today, as well as the skill of a board-certified spinal surgeon. If your spinal specialist advises back surgery, you’ll embark upon a learning process about the different available back surgery procedures – guided by your physician. You always want to get your information directly from your spinal surgeon, since back surgery information online can be outdated or incorrect, and Googling back surgery topics can sometimes cause unnecessary anxiety.   The best course of action for researching back surgery procedures is to prepare a list of questions for your surgeon, and request all of the back surgery literature possible that your doctor can provide you with so that you can fully understand what will be done during your surgical procedure.

Overall, back surgery can accomplish several different pain-relieving goals, including removing portions of the bone to widen the narrowed area in your vertebrae, which can cause back pain. Your spinal surgeon may remove the gel-like middle section of a ruptured disc to relieve pressure on pinched nerves in the back. And sometimes, the damage to a disc is so severe, your doctor has to remove the entire disc and then fuse together the remaining discs.

Below is a list of some of the different types of back surgery that may be the customized choice for your back damage or condition:

  • Discectomy. In this type of back surgery, your spinal surgeon will remove the herniated portion of a disc to relieve irritation and inflammation of a nerve.
  • Laminectomy. This back surgery procedure involves removing the bone overlying the spinal canal, which then enlarges the spinal canal to relieve nerve pressure caused by spinal stenosis.
  • Fusion. Spinal fusion permanently connects two or more bones in your spine. When the vertebrae are fused, you get added stability to your spinal movements, or relief of pain from a spinal fracture. Occasionally, spinal surgeons will opt for spinal fusion to eliminate painful motion between vertebrae that can result from a degenerated disc or injured disc.
  • Vertebroplasty. During this type of back surgery, your surgeon will inject bone cement into compressed vertebrae to stabilize fractures or compressed vertebrae, which can relieve pain. A balloon-like method may be used to expand the vertebrae area, allowing your surgeon to inject the bone cement into the treatment area for optimal results.
  • Artificial discs. Your spinal surgeon may find that your discs are in an advanced stage of degeneration, and that implanted artificial discs are necessary for the creation of a spine that functions better and without compression to the nerves. Artificial disc technology is advancing every day through rigorous studies and testing, and your surgeon can introduce you to the materials and information about having new discs implanted for your spinal pain relief.
  • TOPS (Total Posterior Spine) System.  A mechanical implant device that stabilizes the spine without eliminating the independent motion of the individual vertebrae, as spinal fusion does.

Since back surgery is a complex procedure, work with your spinal surgeon to explore all your options.  Every situation is different and you need to feel secure that you have fully researched which type of back surgery would be best for you, and if back surgery is necessary at all. And of course, your doctor will guide you through all the information you need regarding recovering from back surgery and what you can expect for your post-surgery lifestyle.

reference: www.mayoclinic.com

Preparing for Spinal Fusion Surgery, Part II

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Doctors Completing Surgery

In our last blog we began addressing the topic of preparing for spinal fusion back surgery.  We touched upon tests that may be performed, and the need to prepare physically through a conditioning regimen so your body is ready for the rigors of surgery. Here are additional points anyone considering spinal fusion should remember:

One potential complication of spinal fusion surgery is excessive bleeding. Several commonly used medications can increase bleeding, including aspirin, ibuprofen and other NSAIDs, as can anticoagulants such as warfarin. You will need to discontinue use of any such medications. Should your physician or surgeon be concerned about the risk of excessive blood loss during your spinal fusion operation, you may bank your own blood, called an autologous blood donation, before the surgery.

Be sure to discuss all the medications you are taking with your physicians, and they will advise you when (and if) you should stop taking them. Some medications could cause adverse affects in combination with the anesthetics or other medications used during the operation, and anti-inflammatory medication such as cortisone and chemotherapy can compromise the body’s ability to heal.

Failure of the bone graft to heal, called pseudarthrosis, is one of spinal fusion’s most problematic post-surgical complications. Smoking is associated with this complication, and nicotine has been shown to compromise the ability of bone cells to grow. It is imperative that smokers stop smoking prior to the surgery, and not smoke before their recovery is complete.

Before resigning yourself to spinal fusion surgery, remember that spinal problems often respond to more conservative treatments, such as physical therapy and healthy lifestyle changes. Alternative surgical procedures may also be available. For example, many candidates for spinal fusion can choose the TOPSTM(Total Posterior Solution) System instead. The TOPS System not only preserves all the natural flexion of individual vertebrae, unlike spinal fusion, but it has also been shown to have better outcomes in clinical trials around the world. Indeed, investigating alternative options is another productive way to prepare for a spinal fusion operation.

How to Prepare for Spinal Fusion Back Surgery

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Doctors Performing Surgery

Spinal fusion back surgery is often performed in conjunction with spinal decompression treatment. The decompression procedure relieves pressure on pinched nerves emanating from the spine, reducing pain and restricted mobility in limbs caused by the compressed nerve. But the spinal decompression surgery involves removing portions of vertebrae, making the spine weaker at these points. Thus, spinal fusion surgery is performed to strengthen the spine after decompression, and involves fusing two adjacent vertebrae with the use of an implant.

Preparing for spinal fusion surgery – whether performed on the lumbar, thoracic or cervical spine – is similar to preparations for any spinal operation, but there are a few specifics to be aware of. First, be prepared to be thoroughly examined before the surgery is performed, so your physicians can plan all aspects of your operation. Radiograph assessments of spinal instability, EMG to test nerve function, and an MRI, CAT, or other scan is often performed to identify nerve compression.

Your overall physical condition will also be assessed to ensure you are in sufficient health to undergo the rigors of the surgery. You will need to discuss any and all pre-existing medical conditions with your physicians, and further evaluation of such conditions may be necessary before proceeding with spine fusion surgery. In fact, one of the most important ways to prepare for spinal fusion is to get into the best physical condition possible. Being in good physical condition translates into fewer complications during surgery and faster recoveries after, among other benefits.

Spinal surgery of any kind should be considered a last resort, undertaken only if more conservative treatments have proven ineffective. But many patients undergoing spinal decompression now have an alternative procedure to spinal fusion, shown in clinical tests around the world to have better outcomes than spinal fusion. The TOPSTM (Total Posterior Solution) System stabilizes the spine without eliminating the independent motion of the individual vertebrae, as spinal fusion does. So one of the best ways to prepare for spinal fusion is to find out if an alternative solution like TOPS makes more sense than spinal fusion surgery for you or a loved one.

Recovering from Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

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Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Lumbar spinal stenosis, a common medical problem, denotes an unnatural narrowing of the spinal canal, the center of the spinal column housing the spinal nerves that relay sensorial information to the brain and control the movements of our muscles. The term stenosis comes from Latin, and means a narrowing. When a portion of the spinal canal narrows unnaturally, it can put pressure on the spinal nerves, and these pinched nerves in turn can cause pain and limit mobility.

The good news is that a variety of treatment options are available that have been proven effective in helping individuals recover from or ameliorate the symptoms of spinal stenosis. Conservative, non-invasive therapies include simple lifestyle changes, medications, physical therapy, and injections of anti-inflammatory agents. For patients with spinal stenosis, there’s no way of knowing which of these approaches will be most successful, so physicians may simply prescribe one of these treatments as a first step, and monitor the results to see how the patient responds. If the first method selected doesn’t achieve the results of helping the patient recover from spinal stenosis, the next option may be tried, and so on.

For patients with moderate to severe spinal stenosis who do not respond to conservative treatments, surgery may be recommended. In this form of spinal decompression surgery, the surgeon trims away excess bone in the narrowed center of the affected vertebra, relieving pressure on the compressed nerve or nerves. Historically, a spinal fusion back surgery operation has been performed in conjunction with surgery to relieve spinal stenosis, in order to stabilize the region of the spine where the operation was performed. Today there’s an important, and better alternative to spinal fusion. The TOPS (Total Posterior Spine) System procedure provides better clinical outcomes than spinal fusion surgery. The TOPS solution has the added benefit of preserving the spine’s full range of motion, unlike spinal fusion, which permanently fuses adjacent vertebrae. TOPS also offers a much quicker recovery from surgical treatment for spinal stenosis than spinal fusion. If you’re a candidate for spinal stenosis surgery, make sure you understand all the advanced surgical solutions available today, and what impact each will have on your recovery from this condition.

Back Treatment Options

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Spinal fusion

In our previous blog we discussed the tremendous stresses borne by the lumbar, or lower portion of the spine comprising the five lowest vertebrae. In fact, lumbar back pain is a significant health issue, affecting about 70 to 85 percent of Americans at some point in their lives, according the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Among the most common causes of lumbar spinal problems is the degeneration of bones and tissue in the spine that occur as a normal part of aging. But one doesn’t have to be older to have lumbar spinal problems. Back pain is the most frequent cause of activity limitation in people under the age of 45, according to the NIH. Trauma or injury, poor posture and biomechanics, genetics, obesity and poor muscle tone can all result in lumbar spinal problems that cause pain, limit mobility, and have other serious health consequences. These conditions include spinal stenosis, bulging disc, herniated disc, slipped disc, radiculopathy and spondylolisthesis.

A variety of treatment options are available for individuals affected by conditions causing lumbar back pain. Individuals with moderate to severe cases of these conditions who do not respond to conservative treatment options such as medication, physical therapy and lifestyle changes, may opt for a surgical solution. Frequently this involves cutting away portions of a lumbar vertebra that is impinging, or putting pressure on a nerve emanating from the spinal column. Such spinal decompression surgery can have a dramatic impact on relieving pain and restoring mobility. However, removing bony elements also weakens and destabilizes the spine, so historically a procedure known as lumbar fusion, or lumbar spinal fusion has been performed in conjunction with spinal decompression back surgery of the lower spine. In this procedure the vertebra from which tissue was removed is fused to an adjacent vertebra. This stabilizes and strengthens the spine, but lumbar fusion eliminates the natural flexion and independent motion of the fused vertebrae. Today lumbar decompression surgery patients have an alternative to lumbar fusion: the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Spine) System. 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. If you are considering surgery for a lumbar spinal problem, ask your physician about all your surgical options.

What is Lumbar Spinal Decompression?

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Spinal Stenosis

Imagine if the branches of a tree were just as big at the top as they are at the bottom, and that sometimes, heavy loads were placed on the ends of the very highest branches. Think of the stress that would put on the lower portion of the tree trunk. Well, that’s analogous to the situation we humans experience with our spinal columns. Our spinal column is like the trunk of a tree, but we’re just as big at the top of our trunks as at the bottom. The stress this puts on our lower backs – also called the lumbar region of the spine – is exacerbated by the cumulative affect of a lifetime of lifting and twisting in combination with degenerative changes of the spine that occur as a result of aging. So it’s not surprising that the majority of back problems that bring patients to spinal specialists are centered in the lower, or lumbar region of the spine.

These stresses, along with our genetic makeup, disease or injury, can result in a host of spinal disorders such as bulging or herniated discs, slipped disc and spinal stenosis. These disorders, in turn, can result in unnatural pressure being put on nerves that emanate from the spinal column, potentially causing pain, restricted mobility, and other symptoms of pinched nerves. We talked about the problem of pinched spinal nerve and spinal decompression in general in a previous blog. As we noted, spinal decompression is a means of easing pressure on impinged spinal nerves, and can be performed either non-surgically or surgically. Lumbar spinal decompression simply refers to decompression procedures performed on the lower portion of the spine.

The surgical solution for a lumbar pinched nerve involves removing tissue from vertebrae in the lumbar region that impinge, or put pressure on a nerve. This is called lumbar spinal decompression surgery. Historically, spinal fusion back surgery has been performed in conjunction with lumbar decompression surgery to stabilize the spine. Today, the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Spine) System provides an alternative to spinal fusion that 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 provides an important more treatment option for individuals with moderate to severe symptoms of pinched nerves who do not respond to non-surgical lumbar decompression procedures.

What is Spinal Decompression?

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Spinal Decompression

It may sound like something only a deep sea diver needs to be concerned about, but spinal decompression is an important topic for many people suffering from debilitating back pain. Spinal decompression refers to the process of relieving pressure on one or more pinched, or impinged nerves in the spinal column. The pressure on such nerves can cause pain, restrict mobility, and result in a host of other physical problems that can manifest in almost any part of the body. A host of spinal conditions, including spinal stenosis, disc degeneration, bulging, herniated or slipped discs, and facet syndrome can put pressure on nerves emanating from the spinal column.

Spinal decompression can be performed both surgically and non surgically. Non-surgical spinal decompression utilizes mechanical, computer controlled traction devices to reduce the pressure placed on nerves in specific portions of the spine. Inversion therapy, in which patients hang upside down, is another from of non-surgical spinal decompression.

For patients who do not respond to non-invasive methods, spinal decompression surgery can achieve dramatic improvements. In this surgical procedure, portions of the bone or tissue of the spine that impinge of a nerve are cut away, relieving the pressure. Historically, a spinal fusion procedure was performed in conjunction with spinal decompression surgery, in order to stabilize the spine at the point where the decompression procedure was performed. But spinal fusion, in which two vertebrae are fused to enhance spinal stability, eliminates the independent motion of the fused vertebrae, and may accelerate degeneration of adjacent vertebrae. Today, the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Spine) System provides an alternative to spinal fusion for patients undergoing spinal decompression back surgery. 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.

If you’re a patient whose pinched spinal nerve is not responding to non-invasive decompression methods, make sure you discuss all your surgical options with your physicians.