A minimally invasive disc replacement surgery can help alleviate your pain and give you back some of your independence after surgery, but you have to make sure you follow your doctor’s recovery suggestions in order to get the most out of rehab. So what should you expect, and how can you make the fullest recovery possible after artificial disc surgery? We explain in today’s blog.
Life After Artificial Disc Surgery
One benefit of artificial disc surgery is that it can typically be performed on an outpatient basis, which means you can leave the surgical center on the same day as the operation if the surgeon is happy with the end result. Some patients will be advised to wear a soft collar-style brace for a few days or weeks after the operation depending on which disc was replaced, while others will simply have a small bandage over the incision site. You will need to have a friend or family member drive you home after the operation, because you still may be feeling the effects of sedation and your spine is still fragile, so you can’t quite yet perform all the necessary maneuvers to safely operate a vehicle.
With that said, most people can get back behind the wheel within a week of their operation. Also, depending on the work you do, most people are back at work 1-6 weeks after the operation. The more physical work you perform, the longer recovery time you’ll need, and be sure to receive clearance from your surgeon before heading back to work, as pushing your body too quickly can lead to problems or hardware failure.
Physical Therapy and Diet
Physical therapy is a key component of making a full recovery after artificial disc surgery. Most surgeons will recommend some core strengthening exercises and then some very gradual range of motion exercises with the neck. Doctors typically recommend against bending your head backwards or jogging for a minimum of two months after surgery, but again it depends on the disc that is being replaced.
In addition to physical therapy, healthy dietary choices are key to making a full recovery. Not only will the vitamins and nutrients from these foods help to spur tissue recovering, but it will also help you keep excess weight off, which takes pressure off your spine. Considering your spine is already in a weakened state after surgery, anything you can do to take stress off the spinal column is going to be helpful.
If you follow all these tips, and you’re careful to follow your surgeon’s instructions about cleaning your incision site and preventing against infection, we’re confident that you’ll make great strides in your recovery after artificial disc replacement. Heed your surgeon’s specific instructions, eat healthy meals, participate in your physical therapy program and gradually work your way back into activities like driving and working. If you have any questions about the operation, or if you are wondering if you would be a candidate for artificial disc replacement surgery, reach out to Dr. Chang’s office today.