SPINAL SURGERY

in Hull and East Yorkshire

GEORGE SPINK FRCS (Neurosurg.) BSc Hons

 

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POST OP RECOVERY

The Hull Neurosurgery department provides booklets offering advice to patients who have undergone spinal surgery.

For BACK (lumbar) operations please click here.

For NECK (cervical) operations please click here.


GENERAL ADVICE

Most patients will be able to go home from hospital the day after their operation. This doesn’t mean that they will be able to go back to doing everything as before straight away. It takes around 4-6 weeks on average for people to recover from simple spinal surgery. The more complicated spinal fusion operations can take a few months to recover from.

Most people should gradually aim to increase their day to day activities after the first week, so that by the end of a month they are nearly back to normal life.

This is an average timescale, and it should be remembered that some people take a bit longer, whilst others will recover sooner. Whilst recovering from surgery the patient should start to wean off painkillers after the first week. Ice packs and changing position can help alleviate post op discomfort.


PHYSIOTHERAPY

All patients are seen and assessed before and after surgery by a specialist physiotherapist. The main treatment aims of physiotherapy are 3 fold:

1.    Improving muscle recovery in the area of the incision.

2.    Strengthening any muscle weakened by nerve damage before the surgery.

3.    Spinal stability / core stability muscle work.

Patient will be given both general advice for an exercise regime following surgery, and if necessary an individualised therapy regime. This may involve further outpatient sessions with the community physiotherapy team.


EXERCISE

Exercise is vital to getting better after spine surgery. It is the key to eliminating fatigue, getting patients back to activity safely, and avoiding re-injury. Ultimately, exercise is critical in both helping the body heal from the original injury and in preventing (or minimizing) future episodes of back pain.

For most operations the patient should be able to return to exercise after a few weeks recovery. In the early stages low impact aerobic exercise, such as swimming or cycling, in better than running or circuit training.


DRIVING

There are no set times after which a spinal patient can return to driving. The DVLA and your insurers would expect that you start driving again when you have fully recovered from the operation and can:

-      sit comfortably

-      turn your neck from sided to side without restriction

-      control the car safely with the foot pedals (including being able to safely perform an emergency stop)

Please click here for information from the DVLA.


WORK

For most people returning to work is the final goal after a spinal operation. Usually this is around week 6-8, and should in the initial stages be done in a phased fashion, building up from a few mornings a week initially, back to full time over a fortnight or so.

This will depend on exactly what your work involves (physically demanding jobs make take longer to return to), and will also depend on how much daytime TV you can stomach before you want to return to work!

For some jobs it may not be possible or sensible to return to them at all after spinal surgery. It may also be necessary to look at adjusting the type of work carried out, as some tasks may not be appropriate after an operation. This will be discussed with you in detail before any surgery is decided upon.