After several years of debilitating back pain, Lori H. underwent XLIF® and TLIF procedures. Now, almost a year later, Lori is back to walking normally and exercising. She feels it’s her mission to get better and help others do the same. She even calls herself an ‘AmBACKador”! Here are a few post-surgery recovery tips Lori would like to share with The Better Way Back® community. (Everyone is different, of course, so first talk to your healthcare provider about your unique situation and recovery process.)

Help around the house

  • Wear your back brace as directed by your doctor.
  • Use the “grabber” for things that you cannot reach.
  • Have a loved one place sauce pans, paper plates, paper towels, baggies,
    and other kitchen items on the counter so you don’t have to search or lean
    for them.
  • To get in bed, sit on the edge and lower yourself using your elbow as a kickstand. Visualize yourself as a turtle shell, move your bent legs together on to the bed and, in one fluid motion, move yourself into a comfortable position.
  • When getting out of bed, think of yourself as a log. Roll to one side in one movement, bend your knees, and use the strength of your arms to bring yourself to a sitting position. Stand up and put on your brace.

In the bathroom

  • When turning on the shower, don’t lean to pull down the faucet. Use the grabber to turn water on and release the faucet.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable showering, use a shower bench.
  • Remember to pivot in the tub, moving your hips and shoulders together.
  • Make sure you have grab bars in your shower.
  • Use a bath brush to wash below your knees
  • Once showered, sit to dry off and put your clothes and brace on.
  • Raise items up to your level. When brushing your teeth, spit in a cup rather than the sink. When doing yourmakeup, bring it up to you – don’t slouch to put it on.

Careful body movements

  • Play the “Red Light/Green Light” game with your pain levels:
    Red Light: Stop whatever you are doing and take a time out
    Yellow Light: Caution – pause and think first
    Green Light: Go, but be mindful of movements such as bending, lifting, twisting, arching, pulling, and straining
  • Be like the “Karate Kid” – pivot by moving your hips and shoulders as one unit.
    Bend your knees, not your back.
  • Place a pillow behind your back – don’t slouch.
  • Have loved ones post notes around the house with reminders such as “Stand Tall,” “No Leaning,” and “Shoulders Back.”

“You really have to listen to your doctor and take care of yourself – take baby steps,” Lori says.

What are YOUR tips for recovering after back surgery? Share them in the comments below!