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Thread: Physical preparation for surgery

  1. #1
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    Sep 2012
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    Pawtucket RI
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    Physical preparation for surgery

    Ok, I know I have so many questions but you are all so helpful!! My question today is what should I be doing physically to be ready for my big day? I have quit smoking 40 days ago and by jan 3, I will have close to 10 weeks smoke free and both surgeons said I had to be at least 6-8 weeks smoke free. I have been on a multivitamin for 6 months now and try to eat pretty healthy. I can't really exercise as my pain and flexibility are both pretty horrible. My rib hump is pretty big and right side rib cage is collapsed on my pelvis so I find just sitting painful never mind exercise. I am only 5"2 and weigh 130lbs.( I've shrunk over 2" in the last year)but I'm not overweight and my job is pretty physical which causes so much pain but that's pretty much all I do for physical activity( I do work 64 hrs a week) so I'm just wondering is there anything I should do to prepare my body?
    38 yo with 71* left thoracolumbar curve from untreated AIS dx'd @ age 10. Surgery on for Jan 3, 2013 with Dr.'s Robertson and http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c3...ps321159d8.jpg. Spinal Fusion with instrumentation from T2-L4.

  2. #2
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    Jul 2012
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    Warsaw, MO
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    Doctor said swimming and walking. Swimming is the best. He encouraged me to work on swimming two miles without stopping. Hard to do, but it will really help.

    Tamena

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennilee View Post
    Ok, I know I have so many questions but you are all so helpful!! My question today is what should I be doing physically to be ready for my big day? I have quit smoking 40 days ago and by jan 3, I will have close to 10 weeks smoke free and both surgeons said I had to be at least 6-8 weeks smoke free. I have been on a multivitamin for 6 months now and try to eat pretty healthy. I can't really exercise as my pain and flexibility are both pretty horrible. My rib hump is pretty big and right side rib cage is collapsed on my pelvis so I find just sitting painful never mind exercise. I am only 5"2 and weigh 130lbs.( I've shrunk over 2" in the last year)but I'm not overweight and my job is pretty physical which causes so much pain but that's pretty much all I do for physical activity( I do work 64 hrs a week) so I'm just wondering is there anything I should do to prepare my body?
    If you're working 64 hours a week and it's pretty physical, I suspect you're doing plenty of exercise, Jennilee. I don't know how you do it in such pain. But of course, walking is good for the heart and bones, so if you can, (and if you have the time and energy after 64 hours work!) a walk that's fast enough to cause a slight puff, is good.

    Congrats on giving up smoking!
    Surgery March 3, 2009 at almost 58, now 63.
    Dr. Askin, Brisbane, Australia
    T4-Pelvis, Posterior only
    Osteotomies and Laminectomies
    Was 68 degrees, now 22 and pain free

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    Indiana
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    1,978
    It sounds like you are working really hard to get ready for the big day! Good job!!! My doctor said an important part was to have your heart in shape, so anything that works your heart would be good. I used a stationary bike for a few months prior to my surgery. I know you said you can't really sit... but can you swim? Or can some of you other folks brainstorm some exercises that can be done while lying down, like alternating your arms and legs or something? Can you just sort of dance around to music? I have no idea... but anything that could get your heart pumping a little would be good for you. Best wishes!
    67 and plugging along...
    2007 52 w/ severe lumbar stenosis & L2L3 lateral listhesis (side shift)
    5/4/07 posterior spinal fusion T2-L4 w/ laminectomies and osteotomies @L2L3, L3L4
    Dr. Kim Hammerberg, Rush Univ. Medical Center in Chicago

    Corrected to 15
    CMT (type 2) DX in 2014, progressing
    NEW 10/2018 x-rays show spondylolisthesis at L4/L5 - Dr. DeWald is monitoring

    Click to view my pics: pics of scoli x-rays digital x-rays, and pics of me

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    illinois
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    I am with everyone else here. You need to use this time to be as strong as you can. I was delayed in getting to surgery for many months. I used that time to get strong--you will need very strong legs to get yourself up. I did a lot of walking--I know it is hard when you hurt,but the walking helps with the pain also. It is a natural exercise and good for the heart. Also a diet rich in iron to build your blood.I know being strong made this surgery a little easier. Eat well and get your rest also. All of this will be helpful.

  6. #6
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    Sep 2012
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    Pawtucket RI
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    It seems walking is the most prescribed! I'm going to start tomorrow and maybe my moms elliptical or treadmill also?? Both exercise cardio so I'm guessing they will help. Jennifer, thank you for the congrats! It was hard, but SO worth it.i am a CNA and take care of an 86 yo woman who I love but isn't really ambulatory and is alot of lifting and pulling which sometimes is excruciating but i'm a single mom of an incredible 14 yo in catholic high school which is not cheap and I have never received child support so I'm on my own. That's why I work 64 hrs and there's days when I feel I can't but I just think of my upcoming surgery and how much my daughter means to me and I push on. I have been on pain meds lately but there not really helping..Tamena, how are you feeling? I hope recovery is going smooth for you. Jackie, thanks for the iron tip. I have to start donating my blood in 2 weeks so I'll definitely need the iron. I have a cyst in my left knee so it's not as Strong as I'd like but I'll start working on my legs too. Susie, I don't go out dancing anymore bc of my cosmetic deformity ( it's really noticeable) but I LOVE to dance so why can't I dance in the privacy of my house? Great suggestion!! This forum is so invaluable...thank you all so much for taking the time to answer my questions and put my mind at ease.
    Last edited by Jennilee; 11-26-2012 at 08:56 PM.
    38 yo with 71* left thoracolumbar curve from untreated AIS dx'd @ age 10. Surgery on for Jan 3, 2013 with Dr.'s Robertson and http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c3...ps321159d8.jpg. Spinal Fusion with instrumentation from T2-L4.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    3,745
    hi Jennilee
    cardio sounds like the right idea, since you do lifting with your work...
    just suggest you start off small, unless your lungs are in great shape, which
    may not be the case since you recently quit smoking...
    i was a heavy smoker...when i started exercise, several years after i quit,
    i had no cardio capacity at all...i worked at it every day....and worked my
    way up from 5 minutes on a stationary bike to 60 minutes!!
    if you add a few minutes every day, it is do-able...
    i switched to elliptical after i built up time on bike....
    i have not exercised now in several years, due to pain...

    wishing you good luck in your journey to a better spine...

    jess...& Sparky

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    San Jose, CA
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    571
    I prefer elliptical machine over the treadmill. For some reason, walking on treadmill with incline causes more back pain and elliptical is just fine. Plus, you get to exercise your arms on elliptical. I absolutely cannot run - that kills my back. I also do aerobics (interval training), but avoid any jumping. But honestly, my back hurts after aerobics even when I don't jump... And the best thing for me is yoga - not so much for heart, but for flexibility and relaxation.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
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    7,094
    Hi...

    I agree with those who said you're already doing a lot. The only thing you might try to do is to build up your thigh muscles. Being able to do a deep knee bend and return to standing without an aid can be very helpful when you're postop.

    Regards,
    Linda
    Never argue with an idiot. They always drag you down to their level, and then they beat you with experience. --Twain
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Surgery 2/10/93 A/P fusion T4-L3
    Surgery 1/20/11 A/P fusion L2-sacrum w/pelvic fixation

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
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    You've already done the best thing you can before your surgery - quitting cigarettes. But Linda's suggestion (and others') to strengthen the thighs is very wise. Because post-op, you'll be crouching to pick things up, with a straight back and you need strong thighs to push yourself back up. My knees played up for a few weeks post-op because of the crouching and pushing up, but they soon got used to it. I think thigh-strengthening is a great suggestion for pre-ops!
    Surgery March 3, 2009 at almost 58, now 63.
    Dr. Askin, Brisbane, Australia
    T4-Pelvis, Posterior only
    Osteotomies and Laminectomies
    Was 68 degrees, now 22 and pain free

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Pawtucket RI
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    Thumbs up

    With a cyst in one knee, which can swell at times and be painful, thighs are a great suggestion. Might take some of the stress off of my left knee. I think Irina's suggestion about yoga might really help with my anxiety preop. It's just finding the time to do all of these while working 64 hrs lol I'm working right up to my date, jan 3.
    38 yo with 71* left thoracolumbar curve from untreated AIS dx'd @ age 10. Surgery on for Jan 3, 2013 with Dr.'s Robertson and http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c3...ps321159d8.jpg. Spinal Fusion with instrumentation from T2-L4.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
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    Yes, you're going to be flat out until you finally lie down for surgery! At least you're coming up for a big rest!
    Surgery March 3, 2009 at almost 58, now 63.
    Dr. Askin, Brisbane, Australia
    T4-Pelvis, Posterior only
    Osteotomies and Laminectomies
    Was 68 degrees, now 22 and pain free

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    39
    I've taken up swimming as per my doc's suggestion. I used to laboriously jog on the treadmill, much to the consternation of Dr. Rand. Funny, now that I've stopped my back feels much better, but my asthma has gotten worse. Just can't win, somehow. I used to do yoga but found that could aggravate my back somehow. I did pilates for many years which was really helpful but I eventually got bored. My exercise of choice these days are the barre classes - the thigh work is just killer, and the core work seems to be amazing. I'm about to embark on a 3 week tour of Asia for vacation so I'll be fitting in my walking that way. I'm up to 5 or 6 days a week of exercise in an attempt to get into the best shape possible, but I sometimes wonder if this amount of exercise is more painful than it's worth :-).

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
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    Hi Aleens.
    Personally, if it hurts, I wouldn't do it! Jogging for example is very jarring, so not surprising your back has improved since giving it up. Walking is safer, in my opinion and still really good for cardio and bones.
    Surgery March 3, 2009 at almost 58, now 63.
    Dr. Askin, Brisbane, Australia
    T4-Pelvis, Posterior only
    Osteotomies and Laminectomies
    Was 68 degrees, now 22 and pain free

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    88

    Deep breathing

    One thing I would have done differently is breathing exercises before surgery.
    My spine was quite twisted and I had to wear a brace pulled in tight to keep my spine stable. So my ribs didn't expand much when I breathed.
    Once my back was straightened, it actually felt twisted in the opposite direction. I had a lot of sharp nerve pain in my ribs because of the stretch and reshaping from the surgery. If I had done deep breathing exercises before surgery, my rib cage and torso would have been more flexible and able to stretch larger to accommodate the surgery. This probably would have made my rib pain a lot less severe.
    After surgery, I did a lot of very painful deep breathing and that helped with my rib cage adjusting to the new shape. I told my post-op physical therapist he should recommend breathing exercises to his patients and he told me I should tell my surgeon too. I haven't told Dr. Hey yet but I plan to.

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