If you’re considering spine surgery, you’re probably looking forward to what it can do to improve your overall quality of life. It’s understandable, though, if you’re wondering what’s involved in the recovery process.
Dr. Patrick Doherty and our team at Yale Neurosurgery New London are well-known for providing state-of-the-art care for painful spinal conditions. Surgery is rarely Dr. Doherty’s first recommendation, but it may eventually become your best treatment option for herniated discs, debilitating arthritis, and other spine problems.
Our team shares what you can expect as you heal from spine surgery and the steps you can take to ensure a successful recovery.
What to expect before spine surgery
Much of what you can expect after surgery depends on the type of procedure you’re undergoing. For instance, a bone graft used during spinal fusion surgery takes several months to integrate with your spine. As a result, Dr. Doherty may restrict your participation in heavy lifting and certain contact sports for six months to a year. But you can expect pain relief and a return to varying levels of routine activity within days to weeks of the surgery.
Partial discectomy, disc replacement, and other spinal surgeries generally take weeks rather than months to heal. Dr. Doherty discusses details of your planned surgery before scheduling the procedure, including what you can expect afterward. This gives you time to prepare for the healing process. Shopping in advance for easy-to-fix meals, arranging household help as necessary, and taking other steps before surgery can help ensure a successful recovery.
What to expect immediately after spine surgery
Many spine surgeries these days are minimally invasive outpatient procedures, meaning you’ll likely return home to rest several hours after the surgery.
Because incisions for minimally invasive procedures are quite small compared to those required for traditional or open spine surgery, tissue trauma during the surgery is significantly reduced. Smaller incisions decrease the risks of infection and pain following the procedure. In addition, you can often participate in physical therapy much more quickly, and it’s a significant component of successful recovery.
Dr. Doherty also specializes in highly advanced robotic surgery, offering the most precise results with the least trauma to surrounding muscles, ligaments, and nerves.
However, not everyone is a candidate for minimally invasive surgery. In that case, you may require two to three days of hospital care. Dr. Doherty has extensive expertise in all spine surgeries and recommends the most effective procedure for your circumstances and needs.
Regardless of which type of spine surgery you undergo, following Dr. Doherty’s postsurgical care instructions carefully, including incision care, activity modification, and follow-up visits, is essential.
Returning to normal activities after spine surgery
A guided physical therapy/rehab program plays a vital role in your return to normal activities after spine surgery. Dr. Doherty works closely with your certified therapist to design a plan that fits your needs. Most programs include exercises and other conservative therapies that increase strength and flexibility.
The goal of any rehab program is to restore mobility and prevent future injury. To ensure your success following spine surgery, our Yale Neurosurgery New London team supports you throughout the healing process.
Call today to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Doherty for more information about the benefits of spine surgery.