Lumbar and Cervical Foraminotomy Recovery

Before we talk about foraminotomy recovery we should touch on the basics of preparation for your surgery. If you have already undergone your procedure and are just looking for tips for lumbar foraminotomy recovery or cervical foraminotomy recovery you can jump right to that section.

Surgical Preparations

One of the most common questions asked by patients about to undergo a foraminotomy procedure is “what should I know before I undergo this surgery and how should I prepare for it?”

It is important to note that the decision to proceed with surgery should be made by both the surgeon and the patient. Before agreeing to undergoing surgery, be sure you know all the factors involved such as cost, recovery time, risk factors, and any other information you think would be important to you.

Once you have decided to proceed with your surgical procedure you will likely be required to undergo a complete physical examination to make sure that you are in suitable physical health for the surgery. If you are not in well enough physical condition for your surgery your doctor should be able to suggest activities and lifestyle changes that will improve your health to the point that you would become a surgical candidate.

Before your surgery it is important to also understand that for the first week or so after the surgery you will likely not feel like going to the market to pick up your essential supplies. So stock up on your essentials beforehand and make available a friend or family member to help you out initially.

You will most likely be admitted to the hospital the morning of your surgery with instructions not to eat or drink anything after midnight the day before.

Foraminotomy Risks

Like all other major surgical procedures there are risks of complications that could arise during and after foraminotomy is completed. The following list will cover most of the major complications that can arise.

Allergy or Drug Interaction with Anesthesia
Although not very common, drug interactions or a reaction to the anesthesia is possible. This is why you should report all the medications you are taking before the surgery. In addition to these 2 rare complications, anesthesia can affect your lung function and cause them not to expand as well as they should. So this may be a concern as well. If you have any questions about this you should consult with your doctor prior to surgery to put your mind at ease.

Blood Clots
Bloods clots, sometime referred to as Deep Venous Thrombosis, or DVT, is a risk that may arise after any surgical operation. A blood clot is hazardous because it can break away from its original location and travel to other parts of the body such as the lungs where it could cut off blood supply to the affected area of the lung. Your surgeon will take special precautions to try to avoid this from happening.

Damage to surrounding nerves
There is always a risk of damaging surrounding nerves when performing surgery near them. Although very rare, this serious complication might occur. Typically a nerve injury is a result of the surgeon’s bumping the nerve or mistakenly cutting into the nerve tissue. The result of nerve damage would be muscle weakness and a loss of sensation in the area supplied by the nerve.

Although it is very rare, infection developing after your surgery is a very serious complication. The infection often develops before you leave the hospital, but it can also take several days for it to show signs and symptoms. Superficial skin infections will often be treatable with antibiotics, but if the infection is under the skin in the bones or soft tissue, additional surgery may be required to treat it.

Lumbar and Cervical Foraminotomy Recovery – Rehabilitation

Because of the nature of the foraminotomy procedure, it will usually require only a short duration of rehabilitation. Physical therapy is often required for only 2-4 weeks with a full recovery from your procedure occurring at the 2-3 month timeline. When to start physical therapy is dependent on when your doctor feels you are ready for it. On average outpatient physical therapy will be prescribed within 2-4 weeks after the surgery.

Physical therapy treatments involved will vary, but in the early stages they will likely include ice and electronic stimulation of the affected area. Depending on the therapist you may also receive therapeutic massage to aid the healing process. Other active treatments such as walking, stationary cycling and arm cycling are added in as you progress to improve heart and lung functions. Finally your therapist will begin teaching you specific exercises to help develop the muscles that stabilize the affected area of your spine.

At the conclusion of your physical therapy your therapist will teach you how to avoid re-injury of your back or neck in the future.

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