Recovery From Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Most people can return to normal activity after six months or so of recovery time from minimally invasive spine surgery. In general, after the initial six months, the risks for re-injury to the spine go down substantially and most patients can return to a normal state in a matter of several weeks.

Recovery time can vary based on complications, age, history, weight, and other health problems. Typically, a younger person can heal more quickly than an older person.

A more invasive and complex surgery will require a longer recovery period than a minimally invasive spine surgery. In fact, this is one of the reasons why people choose minimally invasive spine surgery. It leads to a shorter recovery period.

Common Complications

The complications and risks of minimally invasive spine surgery are synonymous. Complications can include problems with:

• anesthesia

• infection

• re-injury

• other health concerns

There is a chance that patients can have muscle or ligament damage if the tissue is disrupted during the back surgery. Due to the surgery being located on the spine, there can also be nerve damage or problems that arise. A nerve problem is a neurological problem which is a known risk of any spine surgery.

Tending to the Operation Site

You should not try to care for the operation site at all. Usually, a nurse comes to the house and checks on the wound unless one of the patient’s family members is a medical caregiver. You should keep a dry, sterile dressing on the wound and keep it dry.

Follow-Up Appointments

Follow-up appointments for minimally invasive spine surgery are brief. You will most likely visit your doctor within a week of your surgery, but after that you may only need a one or two month follow up appointment.

During a typical follow-up appointment, the doctor will discuss any problems or complaints you may have. Then, he will perform a physical examination to make sure that everything is healing correctly and that the symptoms and back pain are alleviated. He will also check for signs of infection.

The most common questions asked include:

• How are you feeling?

• How is your pain level?

• Is the pain gone?

In our practice, we use specific pain index forms that you complete at every single visit. Because the surgery is performed to relieve pain, that is usually the chief concern.

Generally, our patients are happy with their recovery. Physical therapy is an especially important tool and may be recommended to help you return to normal activity.

If there is anything concerning, you may need further testing.

The number of follow-up appointments your need depends on the type of surgery you had. For example, some patients who have a minimally-invasive endoscopic surgery have their wounds checked once and do not need much with regards to follow-up. Other patients who have instrumentation in their spine have to follow-up on a four to six-week basis so that a physician can ensure that their bodies are recovering properly and on schedule.

Avoiding Re-Injury

Patients must follow all the doctor’s recommendations while recovering post operation. If they do not, they will be at a greater risk of re-injuring themselves One of the things that can delay recovery is when the patient re-injures themselves. If the patient suffers a complication, in an extreme circumstance, that could lead to a revision surgery.

The additional surgery could delay the patient from returning to normal activities and lead to a more serious surgery than was originally performed.

Our spinal surgeons try to recommend the least invasive option to treat the patient’s symptoms. However, if minimally invasive spine surgery does not fix the problem, the patient may require a very invasive traditional open spine surgery.

Bone Disease Complications

If someone has osteoporosis or arthritis, it could complicate the healing process. However, when someone has significant health problems such as a bone disorder, they may not be a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery. In such cases, your doctor will recommend the best procedure for your condition, as well as the extra steps to take for your protection.

Extended Pain

Pain beyond the first follow-up appointment really depends on your pre-operative status and how much pain you were experiencing. If you had weakness in your arm or leg on the same side where you had pain before surgery, it may take up to three or four weeks to get better after the surgery. Patients with pre-operative neurological symptoms tend to take a little bit more time to recover.