Healthy Living

Recovery After a Laminectomy

Recovery After a Laminectomy

Key Takeaways

  • The recovery process can be slow and it will require a lot of patience and will from you.
  • You may resume your normal sexual activities during the recovery process as long as you avoid positions that may put a strain on your back leading to pain.
  • When to go back to work will be highly determined by how quickly you recover. 

Laminectomy is a surgical procedure done for the removal of the lamina, bone spurs, and ligaments that may be putting pressure on your spinal nerves causing lower back pain as a result. The procedure is said to be one of the most commonly performed back surgeries. Below is a detailed information on what you should expect during the recovery process.

Recovery in the Hospital

Pain

It is normal to experience pain on your lower back just after the operation. Moreover, pain should not mean that the surgical procedure was unsuccessful or that something is wrong with your recovery. You will probably experience aching in your legs as a result of the inflammation caused by the removal of the compressed nerve. The pain will gradually go away as you recover. It is also normal to experience muscle spasms that run across your back all the way down to your legs. Certain medications will be prescribed to you to ease the pain and spasms. Frequent changing of positions and moist heat may also be effective in reducing pain.

Physical activity

After the anesthesia wears out, try to switch to a comfortable position in the bed. To easily get out of bed, you can lift the head of the bed to its highest point to reduce the distance you’ll cover when sitting upright. You can then swing your legs to the floor and you’ll be good to go. You should be able to walk with a little difficulty after a few hours. However, it is advisable to be accompanied by a nurse to reduce the risks of falling or getting any other injuries.

Hygiene

You should be able to take a shower as soon as the next day after surgery. It will make you feel fresh and so much better. However, you should do it with caution to avoid interfering with the dressing on the incision area. The dressing will be changed by your nurse after you take the shower. Lotion or any types of oil may then be applied to the back to reduce dryness and to relieve muscle spasms.

Nutrition

Intravenous fluids will be stopped once you are able to take regular liquids without feeling nauseated. Getting back to your normal diet will be a gradual process that will be determined by how you get your appetite back. Your diet will probably be rich in laxatives, fruits or fruit juices, and whole grain cereals, which will help in keeping constipation at bay.

Emotional Changes

You will probably be feeling different kinds of negative emotions due to pain, exhaustion, and other post-surgical factors. These feelings may also be caused by the body’s natural reaction to a reduction of hormone levels as a result of pre-surgery and post-surgery stress. Although these feelings are normally expected, they should not be allowed to interfere with the positivity that the recovery process needs.

Hospital Discharge

Normally, you will only need to stay for three to five days at the hospital before you are discharged. However, you might be advised to stay a while longer in some cases depending on how fast your recovery process is. The level of comfort and care that you will get at home will also allow you to get discharged earlier.

Recovering at Home

Physical Activities

Indulging in light physical activities such as walking can go a long way in boosting your recovery process at home. You can slowly increase your walking distance while monitoring the pain and fatigue involved. You can include other physical activities such as climbing stairs when you feel stronger. Make it a habit to frequently change positions whether you are sitting or standing to avoid being in one position for a long period of time, which may lead to pain in the lower back. 

You may resume your normal sexual activities during the recovery process as long as you avoid positions that may put a strain on the back leading to pain. Pay attention to your body and you should use pain as a signal that you should stop or go slow on whatever you are doing.

Sleeping

Taking several short naps during the day will give you the much-needed rest for recovery purposes. The best positions are lying on your stomach or lying on one side while keeping the top leg bent up. It is normal to wake up with a stiff back once in a while and it should not get you worried. Taking a warm shower or a short walk is enough to relax your back. Try to use a firm mattress at all times if possible since it offers proper support to the back.

Medication

You will gradually reduce the medication you take during home recovery. It can be done by reducing the frequency at which you take them and reduce the quantity you take at a time. You should, however, work with your doctor on this one to make sure you do it right. Expect to feel a certain amount of pain and discomfort until the nerve sensitivity and inflammation have become minimal. Exercise, heat, short rests, and massage can also be effective in relieving pain.

Working

When to go back to work will be highly determined by how quickly you recover. You and your doctor will decide when is the right time to resume your work. You may have to wait for a while if your work involves lifting, twisting, or bending.

Hygiene

If the dressing in the incision is removed before you leave the hospital, you can keep the area open even at home. You can take a bath on a daily basis to help you feel better unless advised otherwise by your doctor. It is fine for water to run over the incision as long as you do not rub or scrub it. You can then dry it up after taking a bath and massage some lotion over the lower back and the buttocks to relax the muscles around the incision.

Physical Fitness

Try to create a physical program that works best for you and try to stick with it. Excess fats will most probably strain the back and slow down the recovery process. It is important that you keep your weight in check so as to make your back more flexible and stronger. The daily exercises will also keep your muscles toned and build up strength.

Nutrition

It is important to maintain a balanced diet to hasten the recovery process. Make sure to include foods from every food group such as meat, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables. Try to avoid foods that are rich in calories since you will most probably be less active during recovery.

The recovery process can be slow and it will require a lot of patience and will from you. You will need a persistent effort to boost your physical strength and reduce your weaknesses. You must keep your focus on your improvements and not on the stubborn symptoms. Being optimistic will help you maintain a positive energy, which will make you recover faster. If all goes well, you will recover, be in good shape, and resume your normal life in no time.