After Total Disc Arthroplasty: 4 Tips For Faster Recovery Following Spinal Surgery

A Brand New Disc

For a damaged or degenerative disc in the spine, a doctor may suggest spinal surgery. This decision is challenging as the patient must exhaust all non-surgical treatments before opting for a total disc arthroplasty (TDA), an alternative to spinal fusion. A TDA removes part or all of a damaged disc and installs an implant. Total disc arthroplasty reduces pain while still allowing for flexibility.

Recovery after spinal surgery

On average, doctors expect patients to recover in about 3-6 weeks. After 12 weeks, the patient should be able to resume normal activities. Total disc arthroplasty is a minimally invasive procedure, meaning the pain and recovery time should be shorter. However, the patient still requires effective pain management and physical therapy (PT) to restore strength to the spine. Complications like chronic pain, implant failure, and implant migration can occur without proper recovery. Here are 4 ways to guarantee an even faster recovery and a pain-free spine.

1. Diet matters

The right foods can become medicine, so diet plays a crucial role in post-operative recovery. Eating enough protein helps with maintaining muscle and bone mass. The right vitamins and minerals from fruit and vegetables can keep bones healthy and promote blood flow. Avoid overly processed foods and sugars contributing to inflammation, potentially lengthening recovery.

2. Start walking

Doctors will suggest lots of rest initially, but the patient should also expect a heavy dose of walking. Independent of physical therapy, walking does wonders for spinal surgery recovery. For starters, walking improves cardiovascular health, reducing the chances of blood clots. Walking also relieves stress on the other discs, a side effect of resting for too long. Finally, a daily stroll helps the body become accustomed to the new implant, getting patients back to normal activities quicker.

3. Get lots of sleep

After surgery, a good night’s sleep could be hard to come by. Patients can struggle with post-op pain or sleeping in different positions, as the physical therapist recommends. However, there is power in getting adequate rest at night. The body is constantly repairing and recycling new cells while asleep. In addition, studies show that patients who get sufficient sleep after surgery experience less pain and recover faster.

4. Don’t miss a beat

Physical therapy and medication are mandatory parts of recovery. Yet, these activities require consistency. When patients miss PT sessions or fail to take medication on time, the recovery timeline can extend. Make arrangements in advance with work and other obligations to focus solely on healing. If necessary, arrange for online physical therapy sessions. The more work that goes into recovery, the better the outcome.

Life after TDA

For people experiencing months or even years of spinal pain, a total disc arthroplasty may be the best option. However, getting the most out of surgery requires a dedicated recovery period. Taking care of the body and eating well are some of the best ways to speed up recovery. Keep in touch with the doctor to report any signs of complications. After TDA, less pain is in sight.


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