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Spinal injuries occur for a wide range of reasons. They can develop as you age, be caused by a disease or result from a traumatic event such as a fall or car accident.
It’s important to identify the cause of your back pain and get prompt treatment, especially if your back pain is accompanied by other serious symptoms. If you or a loved one are experiencing back pain, talk to a spinal specialist and get the help you need before your condition progresses or causes permanent damage.
There are some things you can do before spinal surgery to make the recovery process much smoother for the patient and yourself.
In addition, you want to create a good recovery plan to have peace of mind and guarantee a smooth recovery. Work with the patient’s healthcare provider to understand what this plan should include and ensure you have a thorough understanding of the procedure and recovery process. Talk to your loved one about their expectations and needs, along with any responsibilities you will have while caring for them. Discuss any questions or concerns you may have, and take notes of any important information.
At Citrus Spine Institute, we offer educational pre-operative courses for both our patients and caregivers through our Spine Academy program. These courses are provided in partnership with Citrus Memorial Hospital and are designed to help you prepare for the level of care the patient will need.
After spinal surgery, you want to help the patient take proper precautions to ensure a smooth, quick and safe recovery. The patient’s healthcare provider will provide a list of instructions, limitations, post-operative red flags and any other important information. Make sure the patient is following all instructions given by their healthcare provider.
Due to the effects of anesthesia and physical limitations, patients are typically restricted from driving after their spinal procedure. You should expect to drive them home after their procedure or once they are released from the hospital. They may need assistance getting in and out of the car and into the home.
When you pick up the patient, speak with the medical team and collect any paperwork and prescriptions — pay close attention to any instructions as the patient may not be in a condition where they can remember them. Ask the medical team any questions you may have. Verify that you have the necessary phone numbers should any urgent questions or concerns arise.
After spinal surgery, patients are typically restricted from bending, lifting, twisting, pushing and pulling. As they recover, they will gain more mobility. While some movement is okay, they need to make sure they aren’t putting a strain on their spine as it heals.
Limitations will vary according to the patient, but they may need help with everyday tasks, such as:
Ensure the patient attends all follow-up appointments. Pay close attention during each appointment and make note of any important care instructions. In addition to follow-up appointments, the patient may be prescribed physical therapy. Make sure the patient attends all sessions as physical therapy is key to regaining strength and mobility and can speed up the recovery process.
Pain, soreness, stiffness and discomfort are to be expected after any surgical procedure, however, the patient shouldn’t have to suffer through it. Their physician will provide thorough instructions for pain management. These typically include at-home pain management remedies and medicines such as over-the-counter or prescription medications, hot and cold therapy, back bracing, and more. You may need to help the patient keep track of their pain medication dose intervals. Be sure to follow all instructions regarding pain medication and other pain relief remedies.
Proper nutrition and hydration play a critical role in your overall health. It can immensely help during recovery and lower the likelihood of post-operative complications.
During recovery, there are specific foods patients should eat (and avoid). Patients should drink eight glasses of water per day and should stay away from processed, inflammatory foods. Instead, they should consume healthy foods such as fruit, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Constipation is a common side effect of pain medications. Replace foods that can worsen constipation with fiber-rich foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Place special equipment such as walkers, canes and long-handled reachers in an easily accessible place. If the patient is restricted from climbing stairs, move their bed and other necessities to the first floor during their recovery.
Lower the likelihood of a fall by removing tripping hazards such as clutter, cords and rugs. Install a toilet riser, shower chair and temporary grab bars in the shower and next to the toilet to make bathroom navigation easier. Place non-slip mats in areas where the floor may become wet such as the bathroom and kitchen.
Emotional and mental health are just as important as physical health. In fact, stress, anxiety and depression can actually impede wound healing. Whether it be due to pain and discomfort, stress and anxiety, reactions to pain medications or anesthesia, physical limitations or other factors, some patients can struggle mentally and emotionally after a procedure.
This support is crucial to improving their quality of life. Showing patience, kindness and compassion can give them the support they need to overcome these obstacles. Continually encourage the patient throughout their recovery to reinforce a positive attitude.
In addition to providing emotional support to your loved one, take care of your own emotional and mental health. Just as it is for the patient, the recovery process can be challenging for the caregiver. Make sure you get enough rest so that you can be there to help them with what they need.
6099 W. Gulf to Lake Hwy
Crystal River, FL 34429
As a boutique medical practice offering non-surgical and surgical treatment options for spine patients, we provide white-glove service paired with trusted expertise.