Recovering from degenerated disc surgery is the primary goal of all postoperative patients. Disc deterioration surgery is one of the most common spinal procedures and is performed in many varieties, on millions of patients each year worldwide. Recovering from spinal surgery implies more than just recuperating from the traumatic operative intervention. Instead, the goal is to actually become free from the pain that caused the patient to seek the operation in the first place. While most disc surgery recipients do fine recovering from the actual procedure, it is the objective of becoming pain-free that is often elusive.
This patient guide details the recovery process common to spinal disc surgery. We will provide advice on maximizing the chances of enjoying a satisfying postoperative outcome, as well as impart guidance that can minimize the risk of suffering complications or poor curative results.
Disc surgery comes in several common forms, including procedures designed to remove herniations but maintain the presence of the disc, procedures that remove the disc completely and procedures that use minimally invasive methods of treating acute bulges and ruptures.
Discectomy is certainly the most common surgical path, involving removal of all or some of the herniated or degenerated disc in an effort to reduce pressure on a spinal nerve or the spinal cord.
Spinal fusions may be added to a discectomy operation when the entire disc requires removal or when the spine is left unstable after the offending disc material is excised.
Artificial disc implantation involves bypassing fusion by replacing the removed organic disc with a synthetic substitute. The manufactured disc maintains the natural design and flexibility of the vertebral column instead of artificially binding bones to one another.
A variety of minimally invasive injection-based techniques are also available to reduce herniation severity and to flush away proteins that are suspected of being the source of chemical nerve irritation, commonly diagnosed as chemical radiculitis.
Obviously, the type of procedure selected with greatly impact the recovery process. For the least invasive injection-based treatment, recovery might be as easy as going home and resting for a few hours before resuming normal conservative activities. Meanwhile, recuperating from discectomy and subsequent spinal fusion might take an entire year and that is if all goes well, which it often does not.
The most important tip we can offer when it comes to disc surgery recovery is to be absolutely sure that the disc is truly the cause of pain before undergoing any operation. Over 95% of all disc surgeries are not needed and many are not even remotely indicated, based on clinical evidence. If the diagnosis of the spinal disc as the source of pain is not accurate, then surgery will be a major trauma that holds no hope of providing lasting pain relief. This explains the proven fact that of all spinal operations, disc-related procedures fail more than any other variety of invasive back or neck pain treatment.
Next, if the disc is definitively the cause of pain, based on multiple objective opinions and symptomatic correlation by expression and location, then be smart when choosing your procedure and surgeon. Your choice of doctors might influence your results more than any other factor, besides the accuracy of the diagnosis. Additionally, it is always better to undergo the least invasive type of treatment that can resolve the problem and to avoid spinal fusion, spinal implants, spinal fixation hardware or artificial disc substitution whenever possible. All these procedural additions are known to be fraught with complications.
If you have a definitive diagnosis, a great doctor and the ideal procedure selected, then it is time to get in the best health possible prior to the operation. Try to be height/weight proportionate and fully healthy before the actual surgery is performed. These factors will increase your chances for good results and minimize your chances of suffering major complications substantially. Do not neglect mental or emotional health during this process. It is vital to be mentally and emotionally prepared for the surgery in order to prevent temporary placebo cures, as well as the significant risk of nocebo effect during the surgical or recovery processes.
After the operation, make sure to follow aftercare instructions exactly and to-the-letter. Be active in your recovery and be sure to do everything possible to rehabilitate the area anatomically, and yourself psychoemotionally, in order to better the chances of a lasting positive outcome.
Here is a list of some important considerations when planning a surgery to treat disc pain:
Always get multiple opinions on the need for surgery before undergoing any operation and also receive multiple opinions on the best path towards treatment if surgery is universally recommended. Be sure to ask your surgeon to put their diagnosis and prognosis in writing prior to the operation. If they won’t accommodate, then you may justifiably doubt the need for surgery and seek another objective opinion.
Be sure to free yourself from as much responsibility as possible after the operation. Get time off work, be certain you will have assistance with personal responsibilities and also make sure that someone is available to help you immediately after the operation for your aftercare needs.
Avoid risky behaviors and activities for a safe duration after the operation to prevent recurrence of exacerbated pain.
Watch your diet, as well as alcohol and drug intake after the operation. Surgical patients demonstrate elevated risk towards addiction to many controlled substances including, and especially the very pain medications given to them by their doctors.
Account for psychological and emotional contributors to your pain and deal with these during your recuperation time, as well. Many patients might suffer a recurrence even after successful surgery simply due to unresolved emotional contributors to the chronic pain condition. Become emotionally aware in order to reduce the chances of unconscious repression causing you future pain. Following all of these steps will make recovering from degenerated disc surgery easier and safer.