The Fastest Way to Recover From Spinal Surgery

If you’ve just undergone spinal surgery, you know it can be a painful and challenging experience. But just because your body is still recovering doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you can do to speed up the process. This article will explain what should be happening, how it should feel at each stage, and what your recovery plan should entail.

First stages after surgery

In the next few days after you’ve had surgery, several changes occur in your body. These include:

  1. Your spasms and back pain should be lessening. You should feel stiff and very sore when moving, but you should still be mobile with no particular pain.
  2. You will probably lose a lot of bodyweight through diarrhea. This is normal as your body begins to clear out toxins from the surgery site and from the excess fluid that it usually holds in severe dehydration (more info) or vomiting cases. The more weight you lose in the first few days, the faster you will regain it once you eat again. 
  3. The incision(s) will heal in the first damp days. This process is known as granulation, and it builds up over a few weeks. The more you move around and stretch, the quicker this will happen. 
  4. During this phase, you should make daily bowel movements without any pain. However, it is normal for there to be some spots before and after your bowel movements – this is because of congestion in the bowels and for your body to get rid of its waste products. It doesn’t mean that something’s wrong, but just that your body’s reaction to the operation isn’t exactly what you want… yet.

You will probably be given two or three shots of morphine during your surgery. This is a powerful painkiller that you should take even if your pain isn’t severe to keep the swelling under control and help you sleep. In the few days after surgery, you should still require some regular doses of morphine to stay comfortable. However, these doses should eventually begin to reduce. 

How does age affect spinal recovery?

Your age plays a significant role in how fast your body will recover. You’ll have to keep that in mind when making your recovery plan, as well as doing what you can to protect your health (i.e., eating right & staying active!)

  • Younger people: Spinal surgery poses no unique challenges for the body of someone younger than 50. That’s because the bones and muscles are more resilient in younger patients, and it’s easier for them to heal faster than in older patients. However, the older someone is, the more critical it is to take care of themselves.
  • Older patients: Bones and joints can begin to wear down in people who are older than 50. This means that it will take longer for them to heal from the surgery, so they must be more vigilant in taking care of themselves.

Major surgery like spinal surgery requires someone to take care of themselves for an extended period. As long as you remain conscious about your recovery plan, you will want to continue improving your pre-surgery health habits (i.e., eating right & staying active!)

Your daily recovery plan

The most important thing you can do to speed up your recovery is to get on a regular eating and drinking schedule. Your regular schedule should include three meals a day, along with some sort of low-impact exercises such as walking or bike riding and plenty of fluids to keep your body hydrated. You can also continue with whatever treatments your doctor recommends (i.e., physical therapy). 

  • Make sure that you keep a positive attitude about the surgery, even though the pain will be difficult. Your perspective is critical, as it determines the speed at which your body uses the energy that it has. 
  • You should also use the opportunity to write down your daily activities and experiences. This will remind you of what you did to help speed up your recovery and provide a valuable source later in your recovery plan. Writing this down will be very helpful when you are ready to start rebuilding your life after the operation. 
  • Your recovery plan should include some sort of exercise, even if it’s just walking. This can be very beneficial in the weeks and months after surgery as a source of both physical and mental training. Your doctor will let you know what activities you can do to help during spine surgery recovery – just make sure that it’s low-impact (i.e., swimming or biking). You shouldn’t engage in any high-impact activity until eight weeks after your surgery, as the risk of causing further damage is too significant while your muscles are still injured and weak.
  • Keeping your shoulders and upper back in proper alignment is also essential. This can help prevent further injury while your spine is still weak due to the surgery. If you were fused, you would be instructed by a physical therapist or physician to do this.
  • Although some of the changes in your body may seem unpleasant initially, it is essential to remember that these are just temporary effects of the operation and will soon disappear as you heal from it. 
  • Once you completely understand how things work and how to recover from surgery, using this information can be a very beneficial experience for you and those around you. Also, remember that to stay healthy & safe while undergoing spinal surgery, there are several things that you MUST do ( i.e., eating right & staying active!)

Optimal recovery from spinal surgery is not just possible; it is necessary. There are many things that you can do to make this possible. Being patient, staying positive, and getting support from those around you will ultimately lead to a successful recovery. 


Patiently waiting for your body to recover from spinal surgery fully can be difficult. But by being patient and taking positive steps, such as practicing a routine of eating well and exercising regularly, you will be able to speed up the recovery process and minimize the discomfort with spinal surgery. Staying positive throughout this process is essential because it helps you have a purpose. 

Finally, getting support from those around you will always build your strength & overcome any challenges that may arise along the way!

Successful recovery starts with support & motivation!

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