There’s no question that back surgery is a serious affair and that time is the most valuable asset. However, there are many things patients can do to help speed the process. We’ve outlined 10 recommendations that will help patients in their road to recovery. Some are more obvious than others, but all will aid in your struggle to get back on the proverbial dance floor. Proactivity is the fluid that helps grease the wheels to recovery.
No. 1 | Diet
Eating well is essential in recovery and reducing your sodium intake is a big first step to overall better health. Eat small amounts several times throughout the day, which will help avoid nausea and bloating.
- No Sports Drinks: the “rehydrating” beverages are filled with sodium, which encourages water retention. Eliminating as much sodium from your diet as possible helps reduce swelling.
- Boost Protein Intake: Protein is essential with all wound healing, muscle and skin re-growth, and repair and prevention of hair loss. Make sure every meal or snack includes a good source of protein.
- Cutback on the Sugar: Refined sugars can suppress the immune system, upsetting your body’s mineral balance and increase fasting levels of blood glucose.
- Get on the Grapevine: Wine works as a diuretic, so consuming a glass of wine a few weeks post-operatively may be helpful for post-surgical swelling. Note: Never mix alcohol with any prescription drugs, and always consult with your physician before you consume alcoholic beverages.
- Supplement with Probiotics: Antibiotics and other prescription drugs will destroy good bacterium in the gut. Probiotics restore your ability to digest and move your bowels.
No. 2 | Get Up and Move
- Increasing circulation and the flow of lymph fluid will help your body to heal faster. Don’t run … walk. Provided you are able, rest for the first 24 hours post-op and then slowly get back into your normal daily activities, as tolerated. In the early stages of post-surgical recovery, many physicians request that heart rate should not to be elevated. We suggest walking in your neighborhood or mall at a normal shopping pace — not an exercise pace. You can do this without raising your heart rate for any length of time. Quit if you experience fatigue, dizziness or experience nausea.
No. 3 | Stay Hydrated!
- Our maxim is “Only water hydrates,” but in lieu of water we also recommend low fat milk (1%); tea; diluted fruit juice (about 4 oz. /day); flavored water (i.e. Vitamin Water Zero); and Crystal Light. Stay away from carbonated beverages, including seltzers.
- Water-rich Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits like watermelon and grapefruit are water-rich. Strawberries also have high water content and are also low in natural sugar. Zucchini and celery are two vegetables that have high water content.
No. 4 | Take it Easy … Rest
- While moving around is essential to getting your lymphatic system back in order, listening to the needs of your body is critical for long-term recovery. A week or so after your surgery, your conscious mind may be saying “get back to your routine,” but it’s well known that your body remains in a “trauma” mode for up to six weeks post-surgery. Listen to your body and what it tells you: if you need to sleep, then rest. Sleep is a miracle healer. Eat if you’re hungry and especially, drink when you’re both hungry and thirsty. Many times, if one is dehydrated, it masks itself with hunger. We recommend an 8-ounce glass of water before every meal.
No. 5 | Reach for the Stars and Stretch
- Loosening and strengthening muscles helps your skeletal system. Try using a large exercise ball. Rotate in all directions, if possible. Lay on your back, sides and stomach.
Of course, your specific circumstances will dictate how each of our suggestions will affect your recovery. Before you begin any recovery options outlined, please consult your surgeon or treating physician to make sure nothing contravenes their advice.