Thanks to advances in technology, spinal fusion surgery has a fairly high success rate – from 70 to 90 percent, according to various estimates. Even so, there will be a need to take it easy as tissues heal and the fusion forms. Part of this recovery period also involves appropriate physical therapy exercises. But if your goal is to get the most out of the results from your surgery, consider making the following lifestyle adjustments to help your body heal and increase your ability to return to your preferred routines and activities.
1. Opt for Healthy Foods
During recovery from spinal fusion surgery, it’s tempting to opt for comfort foods and snacks. However, doing so can lead to weight gain that places added pressure on your spine or make it difficult for tissues to heal. Instead, stick with healthy food choices that include a mix of nutrient-rich vegetable and fruits and foods and spices that naturally reduce inflammation like fatty fish, ginger, beetroots, and berries. Also, avoid fried foods, sugary snacks, and processed foods.
2. Stay Active
Initially, some rest as you recover is a good thing as the surgery site heals. As your recovery advances, though, inactivity can weaken spine-supporting muscles and over-stress your healing backbone. “Activity” doesn’t have to include gym workouts or strenuous activities that may be too risky. Things like daily walks, playing with pets, and gardening can provide enough stimulation and movement to help with flexibility and improve circulation.
3. Drink Plenty of Water
Water can do more than quench your thirst. Making an effort to drink more water post-surgery increases the flow of beneficial nutrients to your spine’s tissues. H2O also helps spinal discs stay spongy and supportive, especially in areas above and below your surgery site.
4. Watch Your Posture
Anything that causes added pressure on your spine or its supporting muscles after fusion surgery can lengthen your recovery and increase the risk of not achieving a successful fusion. Keep in mind that “posture” includes the way you sit, how you stand, and the positions you sleep in. Using ergonomically designed chairs, keeping one foot on a low stool when standing for long periods of time, and avoiding excessively high heels can also help retain your spine’s natural alignment after surgery.
After you’ve reached a point where your fusion forms and your recovery is considered complete, continue to keep the lifestyle adjustments discussed here in mind. Doing so can reduce your risk of experiencing back or neck pain from other sources. If you do notice any sudden or unexpected discomfort, even if it’s not in the area where your procedure took place, let your doctor know. Being proactive with any type of spine pain is the most effective way to restore your comfort and maintain your quality of life.