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What to Expect After Spinal Surgery- A Surgery Recovery Guide

The Recovery period following a cervical foraminotomy spinal surgery can require some forethought and consideration in order to ease your recovery and mitigate conflicting commitments and aspects of your life- as they say, life doesn’t stop for anyone- even if you’ve just undergone spinal surgery. Fortunately, we’ve compiled our advice for planning a stress-free and restful recovery after your cervical foraminotomy procedure. 

What is Cervical Foraminotomy Surgery?

A Cervical Foraminotomy is a spinal operation done to relieve pressure on one or more spinal nerves. It is performed to alleviate the pain that is caused by a narrowing of the foramen (opening) for the spinal nerve. The most common causes of this narrowing are disc herniations or spinal stenosis. These conditions can be debilitatingly painful and can cause stiffness, numbness, tingling and pain down your arms and shoulders down into your hands. While your quality of life and mobility may be impacted before surgery, after the recovery period most people regain their mobility, independence and can resume their daily activities before the injury. 

Customized Spinal Surgery At Our Kelowna Private Hospital 

At our Kelowna private hospital, our team of board-certified surgeons are highly trained and experienced in a range of Spinal Surgeries, including Lumbar Decompression, Cervical Foraminotomy or Decompression, and Lumbar Discectomy. During a consultation at our private hospital, we can help devise a customized treatment plan that will help minimize your pain, restore mobility, and improve your quality of life. 

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What Can I Do To Prepare For My Spinal Surgery And Recovery?

Plan Ahead

Hindsight is often 20/20 so we’re letting you know you’ll be glad you planned ahead. You should plan ahead to inform your boss you will need time off, childcare, pet care or any other arrangements. Recovery requires 4-6 weeks where you will not be able to sit for prolonged periods of time such as at a desk job or perform any physical related-job tasks such as heavy lifting so plan to take this time off. After your surgery, your movement will be limited, and you will need help doing basic tasks such as sitting up, standing and walking- let alone showering, changing braces, cooking or lifting anything such as children, or pots and pans. You will not be able to drive for 2-4 weeks or spend extended periods of time sitting in the car so plan to have someone drive you or gather your groceries etc ahead of time and postpone any lengthy road trips for the time being.   

Plan Your Meals

Meal Prepping, easy to reheat nutritious meals, and preparing a grocery list/ pickup order for a friend to pick up or have delivered can be a lifesaver when you can no longer drive yourself to the grocery store or are unable to cook. If you cook for more than yourself, your dependents will also be glad to heat up a lasagna or a homemade casserole rather than nutrient-depleted fast food options or takeout. Although it can be a nice treat to eat out or eat cheap convenience foods, there are cost-saving, nutritious benefits aside from having a variety when you cook your meals ahead of time. This small forethought will ensure you have tasty, nutritious and easy meals for you and your family while you recover from your cervical foraminotomy/ decompression surgery.


Post-Surgery Diet

After your cervical foraminotomy surgery, your body will be extremely sensitive to food so you should introduce liquids slowly at first and monitor your reaction. If you do not feel nauseous or having any adverse reactions due to the anesthesia, you can slowly start to eat solid foods. Constipation can be mitigated with light walking, taking a fibre supplement and consuming plenty of fluids.


Set up a Rest Zone

If you’re recovering from spinal surgery it may not be possible to sit up to watch TV or read. Now is the time to orient your TV set or set up a mirror to reflect the TV for easy watching from the bedside. Now is the time to order a tech setup to hold your phone or book hands-free in a position that is conducive for recovery. If you live by yourself, or other family members will be busy at school or working remotely, perhaps you should consider bringing in appliances for conveniences such as a hot water dispenser for coffee and tea, or a heated blanket for example. The more you do to prepare now, the more independent and enjoyable your recovery will be.

Pain Management and Recovery

Due to the minimally invasive nature of the surgery, pain should be quite mild after your surgery though during the surgery you will not feel anything while under general anesthetic. To mitigate any discomfort, talk to your doctor about over-the-counter pain medications and also about resuming your normal medications. If your symptoms become unmanageable or you experience fever, sweating, chills, red blood or pus in the area call your orthopedic surgeon immediately. Make sure to take antibiotics as prescribed and ensure you continue to finish all of them even if you start to feel well. Once you are able to walk, small walks can help to prevent blood clots from developing your legs while also encouraging your lungs to naturally expand which can aid in preventing pneumonia. By following these steps, you can help your body recover faster and more comfortably.

Contact Us

If you are experiencing chronic and debilitating nerve pain or numbness in your neck down into your shoulder and hands and you want to get back on track to a healthy and happy life, our team of surgeons can help! Contact us to find out more about if spinal surgery is right for you. We will do a thorough physical assessment and develop a treatment plan in favour of less invasive treatments, such as medication and physical therapy. Although we treat surgery as a last resort, when these treatments no longer provide relief for pain and other symptoms, we may recommend surgery.

Contact our Kelowna private hospital at 250-868-9799 or fill in our online form.


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