After back surgery care and guidelines

After undergoing back surgery at one of Laser Spine Institute’s surgery centers, you will be expected to follow a set of guidelines given by your surgeon to promote a safe and healthy recovery. Ideally, you should consult your surgeon before your operation to know what to expect during your recovery period so you can make accommodations. For instance, you need to have someone drive you around for the first few days after back surgery.

Although you may experience some pain following a minimally invasive spine surgery, your comfort level should improve steadily. To help you prepare for your recovery period, take a moment to review some general recommendations that our board-certified surgeons+ will provide you with after your procedure. These guidelines will help you understand what to expect and how to heal your muscles and spine properly without injuring yourself.

The initial four weeks after back surgery

After your discectomy or disc decompression, you may be given a supportive back brace, which you should wear as you move about during the day, but not while you sleep. You may be recommended to wear this brace for four to six weeks after surgery. It is important to keep your surgical dressing dry, so use caution when showering. If your dressing becomes wet, reinforce the bandage every four days using the gauze that was provided in our facility. Place white tape over the gauze using firm pressure as you apply.

Two weeks after your surgery date, schedule a postoperative appointment to have your incision checked. Your surgeon will likely provide you with the go-ahead to shower carefully, but you should not soak in a bathtub or go swimming until your incision is fully healed. While rest is important, limited movement that gradually increases over time will help your body heal. Attempt to take two to three walks between five to 10 minutes each for the first three days after surgery. Take three to four walks daily between 10 to 20 minutes from day four to 14. Ice your surgical site if you feel any discomfort.

A critical aspect of your care after back surgery will be refraining from working, lifting and strenuous activity in the first two weeks following your procedure. You may be sexually active, but only as a passive partner. Depending on your job description, you may also be able to return to work after two to six weeks based on your surgeon’s recommendation, the type of surgery performed and your fitness level prior to the procedure.

It is important that you do not lift more than 10 to 15 pounds and only use proper body mechanics when doing so. Also, be careful when getting in and out of your car. Try to bend from your hips while sitting down and gently slide your feet into the car. Avoid any driving if you are taking pain medications or muscle relaxants after your surgery. Lastly, be sure to watch the videos on Spine-Exercises.com to learn about effective body mechanics to help you daily in your recovery process.

Four to 12 weeks after back surgery

At this period, you may still feel some soreness with certain tasks. However, you may begin to feel a lot better. As long as you are not overdoing it, you may begin to start bending and twisting after four weeks for activities, like picking up your clothes. At the six-week mark, you can begin to increase this activity but avoid repetitive movement as to not damage your spine. As long as you are no longer experiencing symptoms after eight weeks, you may resume normal movements with proper body mechanics, as tolerated.

It is also suggested to continue with low-impact exercises at this point. However, avoid always performing the same aerobic or strengthening exercises. Alternate between activities like biking, walking, swimming, elliptical training and spine-strengthening exercises. You can begin to do exercises with light weights up to 25 pounds after six to eight weeks, as long as you are not experiencing pain. Be sure to avoid heavy pushing, pulling or lifting with these exercises. Between six to 12 weeks, you may also return to playing low-impact sports based on your doctor’s recommendation.

By being well informed and realistic about what to expect before, during and after your spinal procedure, you can increase your confidence level and enhance the likelihood of a successful outcome. If you have any questions during your recovery period or you experience a return of your pain and discomfort, contact our spine care experts for assistance. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Learn more about your back surgery options

In the event that you are suffering from a chronic back condition and are considering undergoing one of our minimally invasive back surgeries, reach out to us today. We help thousands of patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain and we are confident that we can help you on your road to recovery. Through a free MRI review,* we can determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our outpatient procedures that can reclaim your life from your condition.