If you’ve recently undergone spinal surgery, you’re probably looking forward to enjoying a pain-free life and improved mobility. But before you get there, you need to give your body the best chance to heal properly. One of the most important, yet sometimes overlooked, aspects of recovery is maintaining good posture after spinal surgery. Here are some reasons why posture is crucial for your healing journey, slouching can negatively impact your recovery, and how keeping an upright posture can protect your incision and help you heal faster.
Taking Care of Your Incision
During spinal surgery, your doctor makes an incision in your skin and muscle to get to the spine. Afterward, the incision site is closed with sutures or staples, which need care to heal properly. Slouching or bending forward can strain the incision, potentially causing it to open up or even leading to complications like infections. However, keeping an upright posture helps keep the incision closed, allowing it to heal faster and reducing the risk of nasty complications.
Easing Pain and Swelling
It’s normal to feel some pain and swelling around the surgical site after your spinal surgery. Good posture can help alleviate these symptoms by distributing weight evenly across your spine, reducing pressure on the affected area. In contrast, slouching can increase pain and swelling due to uneven weight distribution on the spine.
Supporting Spinal Alignment and Stability
Spinal surgery sometimes involves using hardware to stabilize and align the spine. Staying mindful of your posture after surgery is essential to ensure these components stay in place and work as intended. Slouching or poor posture can lead to misalignment, potentially affecting the surgical repair’s effectiveness.
Getting the Most Out of Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy
After spinal surgery, rehabilitation and physical therapy may be recommended to regain strength, mobility, and function. Good posture is vital to these exercises and therapies, ensuring you can perform them effectively and safely. Slouching or poor posture can lead to misalignment, ultimately compromising the integrity of the surgical repair.
Tips for Maintaining Good Posture After Spinal Surgery
Keep Your Posture in Mind: Make a conscious effort to maintain good posture throughout the day, whether you’re sitting, standing, or lying down. Your doctor may recommend rolls or pillows for extra support when needed, but follow your physician’s instructions for your particular needs.
Pick the Perfect Chair: Find a chair that provides lumbar support and encourages proper posture. Adjust the chair’s height so your feet are flat on the ground and your knees are at a comfy 90-degree angle.
Sleep Soundly and Supportively: Use a firm mattress and pillow to support your spine while you sleep. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, as it can strain your neck and lower back.
Stay Active and Stretch: Gentle exercises and stretches can help improve your posture and strengthen the muscles that support your spine. Just be sure to chat with your healthcare provider or physical therapist before starting any exercise program after spinal surgery.
Staying mindful of your posture after spinal surgery is important for a successful recovery. Not only does it help protect the incision site, but it also promotes spinal alignment and stability, reduces pain and swelling, and helps you get the most out of your rehabilitation and physical therapy. By incorporating these tips into your daily routine, you’ll be well on your way to a smooth and speedy recovery.
J. Patrick Johnson, MD is a renowned neurosurgeon specializing in spinal disorders and has served as the Director of the Institute for Spinal Disorders at Cedars Sinai Medical Center since 2001 and previously as the Director of the UCLA Comprehensive Spine Center from 1993-2001.
This article is offered as informational only and not to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.