Back Surgery FAQ: How Soon Can I Get Out of Bed After Spinal Surgery?
One of the first questions you may have when you’re considering getting back surgery is how soon you’ll be able to get out of bed and start moving around again. You don’t need to fear being bed-ridden for weeks after spinal surgery, since it’s of the utmost importance to your post-surgical recovery to get up very soon. Movement is critical to proper healing after spinal surgery, so you can expect to get out of bed the same day or the very next day after surgery. For larger surgeries, you may need attendants or physical therapists nearby who can assist you with sitting up, helping to move your legs over the side of the bed, standing and walking. Never attempt to get out of bed for the first time after surgery on your own since you may still be light headed or off balance. Someone should be next to you the first time out of bed to make your movements easier and prevent you from falling.
With the latest surgical techniques, even after larger surgeries, most patients are up and walking without assistance within a few days and are able to go home. Some older or more debilitated patients may need to go to a rehab facility for a week or so after surgery. Others benefit from having a home care aide come to their house to help with some basic needs rather than depending on family members.
Walking is important after spinal surgery. Please remember to start slowly and follow your doctor’s orders on how much to walk. Patients are typically allowed to walk up and down stairs after spinal surgery, but this is usually done slowly and under supervision the first few times to make sure that the patient is safe. Older patients may have more difficulty with stairs after larger surgeries.
Given the occasional difficulties taking stairs, you may need to consider your home’s layout in relation to your post-surgery recovery plan. If your bedroom is upstairs, next to a bathroom, you’re well-located. If, however, there is not a bathroom on the floor where your bedroom is, you and your family may need to set you up in a different bedroom on a floor of your home that does have a bathroom. It might be a guest room, one with a firm enough mattress to support you as you recover. The couch isn’t an ideal spot, given the need for a sturdy, supportive mattress for your back and body comfort. Before your back surgery, pre-plan for where you’ll ‘live’ in your home during the first week or two after your surgery, and add to that room perhaps a portable mini refrigerator that can hold your water bottles and snacks, perhaps a television that you can watch, and blankets and other supplies placed near your bed so that you and your assistants can reach them easily.
One way to help speed your recovery is to try and get in shape, as best you can, in the time you have allotted before your back surgery. When you’re in better shape before spinal surgery, you’ll often ‘bounce back’ more easily and more quickly, with your strengthened back muscles being better able to support and move you during your recovery. If you’re in better physical shape before surgery, your healing time may be lessened provided you follow your doctor’s guidelines for your recovery. Wise advice no matter what shape you’re in prior to back surgery. Take your time, be patient, allow your attendants to help you, and know that each day, with each step, you’re on your way to recovery.