If you have back pain or sciatica pain, then you understand how difficult it can be to maintain your normal active lifestyle. If you have attempted conservative treatments like physical therapy or injections and still have pain, you may be a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery. Of course, whenever any surgery is recommended for your condition, you may wonder what the recovery process is like after your have the procedure.
It is common to have questions about the process of returning to your normal lifestyle after minimally invasive spine surgery. You may wonder when you may return to work, or if you will be able to care for your family and children. And what about recreational activities and sports? When can you get back to your regular exercise routine?
When Can I Go Home After the Surgery?
Since the incision is so tiny and the blood loss is so minimal during minimally invasive spine surgery, many patients are able to leave the surgical center or hospital the same day as the procedure. When you are able to return home depends on the specific procedure that you are having.
Some spine surgeries require very little internal incisions to the disc and bony tissue. If this is your case, you will likely be able to return home within hours of your surgery. Other minimally invasive spine surgeries, like a lumbar fusion, may require you to remain in the hospital overnight to ensure that your condition is stable before leaving the care of your nursing and surgical team.
How Long Will it Take to Heal After Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?
The general healing time after minimally invasive spine surgery is less when compared to the standard open approach. This is due to the small incision and minimal disruption of the lumbar muscles during the minimally invasive procedure.
Some procedures, such as radiofrequency surgery for spinal tumors or kyphoplasty to stabilize a vertebral compression fracture heal quite quickly and carry few post-operative restrictions. Other procedures performed in a minimally invasive fashion, such as a lumbar fusion surgery, heal more slowly based on the rate of bony fusing taking place in your spine.
Your surgeon will monitor your progress and let you know when it is safe for you to progress with normal activities after your surgery, but you can expect to be healed within a few weeks of the surgery.
Pain Control after Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
Since the incision is so small and the lumbar muscles are spared from deep dissection during minimally invasive spine surgery, the need for opiate medication to manage the postoperative pain is decreased. This means that your body will not have to deal with the side effects of taking harsh drugs while recovering, allowing you to return to your previous active lifestyle sooner.
Opiate medication use is at an all time high in the United States, and New Jersey is no exception when it comes to a few problem cases of medication abuse. Relying less on opiate medication means that your likelihood of being exposed to the harmful effects of these medications is minimized.
Of course, all procedures that require even the smallest incision may cause some discomfort or pain, and your surgeon will be able to control your pain as needed.
Many patients benefit from a short course of physical therapy after spine surgery to help improve mobility and learn exercises to help prevent future problems with back pain. During minimally invasive spine surgery, your low back muscles are spared from serious injury or insult, and therefore the rehab process is significantly shorter. Some patients are able to perform gentle postural and stretching exercises on their own, allowing them to work independently on their rehab while gearing up for a return to their previous active recreational and work activities.
Returning to Work After Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
Returning to work after minimally invasive spine surgery depends on many factors. Does your job require heavy lifting or does it require long periods of sitting? Is light or modified duty available? All of these factors dictate when you will be able to return to your normal duties at work.
Because the incision is so small with minimally invasive procedures, and because your lumbar muscles are spared, you can expect to return to work within weeks, rather than months, after your spine surgery.
Choosing to have minimally invasive spine surgery for your back means that you can expect fewer risk factors, less pain and a faster recovery period. Only a handful of specialty trained neurosurgeons in New Jersey offer minimally invasive spine surgery, and finding the right surgeon can give you a smooth recovery with a rapid return to your previous level of function.