Tips for Managing Pain and Discomfort During Spine Surgery Recovery

Recovering from spine surgery can be a challenging and uncomfortable process, but there are several tips that can help manage pain and promote a smoother recovery.

By incorporating certain strategies into your routine and seeking guidance from your healthcare professional, you can better manage pain and enhance your overall well-being during the challenging period of spine surgery recovery. Keep reading to learn more!

What is Spine Surgery?

Spine surgery is a complex surgical procedure that is performed to alleviate various conditions and disorders of the spinal column, such as degenerative disc disease, compression fractures, and spinal instability. Although spine surgery can also significantly improve the overall quality of life, the patient’s healing process will likely require several weeks of physical therapy.

Back Pain as a Cause for Spine Surgery

Back discomfort is a frequent issue. Aging, as well as stress and strain, are unavoidable. Most of the time, conservative methods like heat, ice, and physical therapy work well to relieve this soreness. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 90% of the millions of Americans who experience back pain will recover without surgery. However, if you need surgery to treat your back pain, one of your main worries will likely be the length of your rehabilitation.

Here we give you 6 tips for managing pain during spine surgery:

6 Tips for Managing Pain During Recovery After Surgery:

1. Follow Your Post-Operative Plan from A to Z

The best approach to speed up healing from back surgery is to follow your doctor’s instructions for postoperative care. Your surgeon will carefully lay out your recovery plan before surgery, including reasonable goals for pain management and getting back to your regular routine. Despite the fact that some of the restrictions might feel onerous, you shouldn’t push yourself over what your doctor suggests. These suggestions are made to give your body the time it requires to recuperate effectively.

It may be discouraging for those accustomed to physical activity when your doctor advises getting lots of rest. Remind yourself that even though it may not seem like it, healing is beneficial. Specific prescription instructions will also be included in your doctor’s suggestions. Make sure you are aware of the drugs you will be taking for pain management and how frequently you must take them. It can be helpful to let them know your prescription regimen so that they can support you in sticking to it if you intend to have a friend, child, or spouse assist you while you’re recovering.

2. Set Your Home for Recovery

Although recovery times following spine surgery vary from patient to patient, you may anticipate spending a significant amount of time at home recovering. This means that you should have your house ready in advance. Your recovery time will be made easier by a cozy recovery area. Here are a few ideas for getting your home’s main rooms ready. Consider the following:


Think about where your bed is before anything else. Is it on the ground level? How is your mattress? It’s okay for your bed to be on the second floor as long as your therapist cleared you to go up and down the stairs.

Think About Convenience

Next, consider all the things you’ll require for your recovery. Put as many of those products as you can in convenient locations. Moving your phone charger to a bedside table or bringing a TV or table close to the bed may be necessary. Prepare a prescription organizer, and keep a large supply of clean clothes nearby. Put a heating pad by your bed, and consider keeping a cane or walker nearby when you feel up to moving about. You should also consider the kind of pillows that will keep you the most comfortable.


Make sure your bathroom is on the same floor as your bed, if possible. The use of a shower chair and toilet riser might facilitate your daily activities. Since you won’t be able to go to the shop if you run out, keep enough toilet paper on hand.


Remove cutlery and plates from cupboards that will be difficult for you to access while you’re recovering. Keep them in the pantry on a handy shelf or on the counter. Additionally, you should stock up on simple meals. Keep in mind that eating healthier foods will aid in your rehabilitation. While it is acceptable to occasionally indulge in unhealthy snacks, try to maintain a generally wholesome diet.

3. Listen to Your Pain

Any form of spine surgery recovery is expected to be painful, but different pains have different meanings. Consult your doctor before surgery to thoroughly understand the level of pain you might anticipate. How bad will it get? How will it make you feel? How much time will it take?

Knowing what to anticipate will help you decide whether the symptoms you’re experiencing are normal or necessitate seeing a doctor. While some pain may be entirely natural, others may be a sign of a surgical complication.

Do not disregard your postoperative discomfort if it exceeds the range of what your doctor has advised you to anticipate. For instance, discomfort or swelling in your arm or leg can be a sign of a blood clot.

Any surgery carries the risk of blood clots since the absence of movement reduces blood flow and increases your risk of clotting. An infection may be the cause of excruciating pain after surgery.

During your post-operative recuperation, pay close attention to your pain and keep in mind what your doctor has advised you to expect. Speak with your doctor if your pain is more intense or different from what they warned. The less probable it is to delay your healing period, the sooner you identify a potential issue.

4. Do Your Best at Physical Therapy

You will go through physical therapy for at least a few weeks after your operation. Physical therapy can be incredibly challenging, but it is intended to aid in your body’s full recovery. Strive to adhere as strictly as you can to your therapist’s advice. This can greatly shorten the time it takes for you to recuperate.

The muscles surrounding the injury and the surgical site will likely be the focus of physical therapy. The exercises your therapist has you do will give the area more stability and aid in avoiding further issues.

However, physical treatment continues even after you and your therapist part ways. You will be given exercises to complete by your therapist, and it’s crucial to stick to these at-home chores.

5. Focus on Building Healthy Habits

Here are some healthy behaviors to develop after surgery:

Follow a Healthy Diet

Your body will require more calories to fuel its mending during your recovery period, but these extra calories don’t necessarily have to come from fatty meals and sweets. Instead, concentrate on wholesome foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, cereals, foods strong in protein, and other possibilities. If you find it difficult to include the extra calories into your diet, you can also take vitamins and supplements at your doctor’s advice and incorporate protein drinks and smoothies into your diet. Drinking enough water will help you stay hydrated.

Do Not Smoke or Drink

Smoking and binge drinking are unhealthy habits for anyone, but they are particularly detrimental to those who are recuperating from surgery. If you smoke, attempt to abstain from doing so while you’re healing. The rate at which your bones recover can be slowed down by nicotine. Likewise, refrain from abusing alcohol. Alcohol and the painkillers you’ll need to take after surgery can combine in potentially harmful ways.

Good Sleep Schedule

A sound night’s sleep is essential for a quick recovery. Despite the discomfort you might feel, make an effort to establish and adhere to a sleep regimen. Try to divert yourself with any form of amusement if you notice that you are daydreaming in the middle of the day. It will be simpler to sleep through the night as a result.

6. Oral Medications

You may need to take some of the following pain medication:

Inflammation Meds

Anti-inflammatory medications can reduce swelling at the surgical site.  As these medications have side effects, please check with your doctor prior to taking any medications.  

Herbal supplements such as Turmeric or Curcumin can also reduce inflammation as an alternative to pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory medications.

Muscle Relaxants

These drugs function at the level of the brain and spinal nerves to reduce muscle pain or muscle spasms.

Don’t Be Disheartened

Keep in mind that recovery happens gradually. Following surgery, a lot of patients go through emotional ups and downs because of the activity limitations and the arduous rehabilitation process.

It can be simple to allow those emotions to rule your thoughts but make an effort to put your attention elsewhere. Celebrate modest accomplishments like progressively lessening discomfort and rising vitality. Having a good attitude and a goal-oriented outlook will greatly aid your recuperation.

Book Your Appointment with Dr. Hamid Mir!

Dr Hamid Mir is a board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon with fellowship training in combined neuro and orthopedic spine surgery techniques who’s based in Orange County, CA. He has 18 years of experience in minimally invasive spine surgeries using advanced microscopic techniques. 

With his expertise, compassionate approach, and medical team, you can trust Dr. Mir to guide you through the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery process, ensuring the best possible outcomes for your spinal health. Don’t wait; schedule your appointment today and take the first step towards a healthier spine.


When Should You Call for Help During Spine Surgery Recovery?

If you are experiencing pain that does not go away after taking painkillers, call your doctor or nurse advice line right away, or obtain immediate medical help. Also, you should get help if your buttocks or legs are showing new or worsening symptoms.

How Long Does It Take to Recover From Back Surgery?

Days after surgery, you’ll be encouraged to walk and move around, and it’s possible that you’ll be released the same day or 1 to 2 days later. Depending on the severity of your ailment and symptoms prior to the operation, it will take you 4 to 6 weeks after surgery to return to your normal level of mobility and function.

How Much Should I Walk After Spine Surgery?

Walking is encouraged right after surgery.  Discuss with your doctor on how much walking is okay for your specific case.  

Remaining active aids your successful recovery from back surgery. At the same time, you need to take care not to reinjure your back by overdoing it.