Degenerative joint disease surgery — how to help ensure a streamlined recovery

As you plan for your degenerative joint disease surgery, you’ll want to have a general idea of how you will feel and what you can expect in the days immediately following your procedure. To some extent, this will depend on the specific type of surgery you have, so you should turn to your surgeon for the most accurate information. He or she can also provide detailed and customized postoperative instructions designed to help your recovery go as smoothly as possible.

Some general tips to keep in mind

Before you meet with your surgeon to go over the details of your surgery, you may want to do some advance preparation on your own. For instance, as specific questions occur to you, be sure to write them down so that you’ll be less likely to forget something important when you’re face to face with your surgeon.

If you’re so inclined, you might perform some online research as well (just be sure to confirm the trustworthiness of the source before you rely on any information you find). You can also use the internet to connect with others who have had spine surgery and can tell you about their own experiences. Finally, be sure to recruit some family members and friends to help out as needed during the first few days that follow your procedure.

After your degenerative joint disease surgery is completed, you should:

  • Carefully follow all instructions provided by your surgeon
  • Take any recommended medications as prescribed
  • Begin a progressive walking program right away (as advised by your surgeon)
  • Try to keep your spine as straight as possible (avoid bending, twisting and lifting)
  • Wear comfortable clothing that allows you to change body positions easily while sleeping
  • Avoid sitting for more than 20 minutes at a time
  • Schedule your follow-up appointments within the appropriate timeframe
  • Notify your surgeon right away if unusual symptoms develop or you have any other concerns

Most importantly, you’ll need to be patient with yourself, because the healing process takes time. The human body heals itself by producing connective tissue (scar tissue), and healing rates can vary widely among individuals.

Types of surgery

These recovery tips apply to any type of degenerative joint disease surgery. However, you should be aware that there are two main surgical approaches — traditional and minimally invasive — and the approach you select will significantly influence your recovery. Because traditional open spine surgery is highly invasive, the associated recovery period can be long (it is typically measured in months rather than weeks). Alternatively, minimally invasive spine surgery is performed through small incisions. This can result in less muscle disruption and, in turn, a shorter recovery time and a lower complication rate.^

The skilled surgeons at Laser Spine Institute perform minimally invasive outpatient procedures to address degenerative spine conditions. Our minimally invasive surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.^

To find out if you’re a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute, contact us today.