When you’ve been living with back pain for too long, the prospect of surgery can be both relieving and intimidating. Many people worry that having back surgery will not improve their condition. Many worry that they may be in more pain after surgery than they were beforehand. This is one of the reasons people put off seeing a spine specialist. Here, we want to clear up misconceptions about post-operative back pain and discuss how to manage recovery from a spinal procedure.
Preparation Is Everything
One of the details about back surgery that should not be overlooked is preparation. The more physically and mentally prepared a patient is, the better they will fare during their recovery period.
- Patients who prepare for surgery by engaging in a prehab program tend to experience less post-operative pain. This is because a prehab program strengthens supporting muscles, may include weight loss to reduce the physical load on the spine, and improves flexibility.
- Patients who understand that they will experience pain after their back surgery are mentally prepared to manage the psychological stress of discomfort. These patients often find innovative ways to navigate their recovery, from meditation to breathing techniques during times of discomfort.
- Patients should expect mild to moderate pain in the surgical area. Spinal procedures may disrupt muscle, soft tissue, nerves, and bone. All of these tissues may experience inflammation that triggers discomfort.
- The discomfort this occurs after surgery feels different than the achy, arthritic pain that had existed beforehand.
- Significant pain relief is typically achieved within 6 to 8 weeks after most spinal surgeries.
How Much Pain Is Normal After Back Surgery?
One of the most important details patients can understand about back surgery is that their post-operative pain is very likely to spike at various milestones. Right after surgery, the body may feel achy. The area around incisions may feel tight, itchy, or otherwise uncomfortable. Most pain is well-managed with prescription medication. When the dosing of pain medication is tapered off a week or two after surgery, patients may notice a little more pain. Discomfort may occur once again as activity level increases. This ebb and flow of comfort may continue for a few months but typically moves consistently toward improvement the farther one gets from their surgery.
Surgical treatment may be the best option in certain circumstances of back or neck pain. Dr. Lipani and our experienced staff provide the utmost care so our patients’ surgical experience is as positive as possible.
For more information on the treatment of back or neck pain, contact a Princeton Neurological Surgery office near you.