Frequently Asked Questions
As you recover from spinal surgery, your doctor may recommend wearing a back brace, not lifting heavy objects and avoiding bending at the waist. Also, you may be advised to consult with a physical therapist as you reintroduce exercise into your routine.
Following your surgery, you and your surgeon can discuss the most effective pain medication for you. A multimodal approach may include options such as hot and cold packs, patient-controlled analgesia, relaxation techniques and transcutaneous nerve stimulation.
Many of the risks of spinal surgery are the same as risks for other procedures: bleeding, infection and general anesthesia risks. However, spinal surgery also has additional risks. An anterior approach to the spine — through the anterior neck — could cause damage to structures including the esophagus, trachea and carotid arteries. Spinal surgery also carries risks to the spinal cord and nerve roots, and damage to those structures could cause weakness and numbness, as well as problems with the bowels and bladder.
Depending on the type of surgery you have, you may feel better almost immediately, or it could take months before you have complete relief. The speed of your recovery depends on the type of your surgery, the surgeon’s approach to your spine and the amount of damage to your spine. Talk to your doctor about realistic expectations for recovery.
Generally, surgeons will always choose the least invasive method possible for a surgery. However, not all surgeries — and not all spinal injuries — allow for a minimally invasive approach. Talk to your surgeon about his or her preferred method of performing the surgery and ask specifically if a minimally invasive approach is possible.