Spine Surgery Recovery

Our team provides the best possible spine surgery and care — but once you get home, it’s not always easy to know how to recover from spine surgery.

When you meet with our specialists, they’ll provide a personalized plan for your recovery, including limitations, back exercises, and physical therapy.

If you’re struggling with your spine surgery recovery, you can try some of the exercises below or schedule a follow-up appointment with our team.

Exercises You Can Do at Home

Most episodes of back pain are not serious and will gradually go away in a relatively short period of time. However, you should seek immediate medical help for your back if you experience complications such as:

  • Pain that radiates into your leg
  • Numbness or weakness in your muscles
  • Changes in bladder function

You should also seek a medical evaluation if your back pain is the result of trauma.

Back Exercises

Mechanical spine pain occurs when the joint, where two bones come together, is placed in a position that causes overstretching of the surrounding soft tissue. This overstretch exceeds the ability of the tissues to absorb force causing injury. Stimulation of the injured tissue via gentle movement is important for healing. Gentle range of motion exercises can speed up the recovery process but should only be done if they do not increase your pain. The following exercises may aid in your recovery.

Support yourself on your hands and knees. Gently round your back like a cat, hold for 20 seconds, and return to your starting position.

Lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Slowly bend your legs and hips to the left. You may place your left hand on the top of your right knee to assist with the stretch. Hold the position for 20 seconds. Slowly return to your starting position. Repeat to the opposite side.

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Gently pull your navel toward the floor as your pelvis slowly rotates up from the bottom. Hold the position for 3 to 5 seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat three to five times.

Neck Exercises

Start with your head and neck in a normal posture. Gently pull your chin toward your chest as if you were nodding to someone. Hold for 5 seconds and return to your normal posture.

Maintain erect posture. Draw shoulders back while bringing elbows back and inward.

Maintain erect posture. Turn head slowly to look over one shoulder, then the other.

Sitting – Keep the chin slightly drawn back and shoulder blades slightly retracted. Maintain a good upright but comfortable spinal posture.

Sitting at Computer – Adjust your computer work station so that you can easily do work with sitting posture. You may have to adjust the height of your computer and its distance away from you.

Driving – Adjust the seat in your car so that you can maintain a neutral neck posture. Avoid having your head thrust forward or slumping in low back. This may require adjusting the tilt of the seat and seat height in addition to its distance from the steering wheel.

Proper lifting – When lifting avoid bending from the waist, instead maintain a neutral spine as you bend at the hips and knees. Keep the load close to your body as you lift and carry.

Sweeping/vacuuming – Avoid bending at the waist when sweeping or vacuuming. At times twisting of the trunk is painful in the low back with these activities, and you may have to modify technique to avoid the painful rotation.

Sleeping posture – If lying on your side, place a pillow between your legs making sure that it supports the entire leg from the hip down to the ankles. Be sure that your pillow is the right thickness and is not causing your head to be side bent up or down. Also make sure the pillow is only under your head and neck and not under your shoulder.

If lying on your back, place pillow(s) under the legs, being sure to have the thighs and lower legs supported. Make sure that the pillow under your head supports only the head and neck and is of the right thickness for your comfort.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is one of the most common forms of conservative treatment that back and spine patients undergo to relieve symptoms. Through pain management and physical therapy, most patients are able to reduce or eliminate the need for surgery. For patients who do not respond to physical therapy over the course of several months, other options such as surgery may be considered.

Through a physician referral, a physical therapist will work with a patient to develop a set of in-office therapies and modalities that may be combined with a written, home exercise health plan to help increase range of motion and reduce pain.

For appointments call