56 Things to Do While Recovering from Surgery

This weekend is looking to be stellar, weather-wise, and if you can get outside and enjoy it, please do! However, if you’re recovering from back surgery, getting around might be a bit tough, so here are 56 things to do to help you pass the time, courtesy of Remember though, staying sedentary for too long can have negative effects on everyone, especially those recovering, so unless instructed by a doctor to stay in bed, please make sure to get up and move around a bit.


Pure entertainment

  1. Discover new music from the Internet: Fill up your iPod from iTunes, or join Spotify and Pandora to discover thousands of new tunes.
  2. Search for articles relating to your condition.
  1. Sharpen your thinking skills with online games from You can sign up for the free version to see if you like it.
  2. Read a great classic: To Kill a Mocking Bird, A Catcher in the Rye, The Grapes of Wrath, The Old Man and the Sea, The Great Gatsby, The Call of the Wild, or War and Peace. Invest in a tablet reader such as a Nook, an eReader, or a Kindle to have instant access to almost any book in the world. If you have a smart phone or tablet, download the Kindle or iBooks app. Be sure to check for free or discounted ebooks.
  3. Listen to books on CD or your iPod. Sometimes it’s easier to listen to a book than to read.
  4. Ask your kids to read to you.
  5. Play classic board games with your kids like Monopoly, Chess,Scrabble or Uno.
  6. Subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Videos, or Hulu to watch a season of a TV series that you had always wanted to see. Game of Thrones is an R-rated epic, Breaking Bad is intense and addicting, Chicago Fire is a drama with a fierce following. Or watch an older series, like 24Cheersor The Dick Van Dyke Show.
  7. Do crossword puzzles. Or try a numbers version of crosswords like Sudoku or kakuro puzzles. You can find free kakuro puzzles and free Sodoku puzzles at Livewire Puzzles.
  8. Play the guitar (or learn to), or ask someone to play an instrument or sing for you.
  9. Watch old movies. These are great if you are feeling fuzzy from the pain medications . The classic old movies are slow-moving, so it’s easy to follow the plot. The library is a good source for free or very inexpensive rentals.
  10. Enjoy Xbox or Nintendo, Gameboy, Sony PSP, or any handheld electronic games. Try some of the new games on your smart phone or tablet. Download the Touch Arcade App to keep up to date with the hottest new games.
  11. Try Simon, a classic memory test game. It’s not too difficult, so it’s good if the pain medications are affecting your concentration. You can get a small version of it from
  12. Get wrapped up in a long, complicated novel series. Here’s a great listto get you started.
  13. If you prefer, read the original magical book series, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
  14. Give yourself a manicure or a facial, or look through magazines to find a new hair style you’d like to try.
  15. Open up a Pinterest account and start pinning away. Pinterest allows you to create collections of your favorite ideas on different boards. VisitSpine-health’s boards while you’re at it.
  16. Read the entire New York Times – that will take at least a half a day!

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Emotional care

  1. Sit out on your deck or porch for awhile each day and get some fresh air and sunshine. The Vitamin D from the sun will help get your endorphins flowing.
  2. Get free therapy online and make friends with other people who are in similar situations on Discussion Forum: “…finding this site and spending time here was a great help during recuperation – both in regard to having something to do but also for learning and understanding about our surgeries and recovery, and also being able to help and assist others here – that’s why I am still active here 7 months after surgery.”
  3. Start a blog: an online diary that allows you to chronicle your recovery and automatically notifies your network of friends and family each time you update it. offers free blog sites.
  4. E-mail a loved one who is having difficulty empathizing with your condition and invite him or her to view the Message Board so they can see what you and others in your condition have to go through.
  5. Connect with an old friend with whom you’ve lost touch. Try sending a card or letter to him or her via old fashioned mail. Or find your friend on Facebook and reconnect.
  6. Learn to meditate and practice, practice, practice. Meditation is great for reducing stress and producing an overall feeling of calm and well-being, all of which contributes to healing.
  7. Start to plan your rehabilitation by visiting Spine-health’s wellnesssections. Pick out exercises you think you’d like to try, and spend time mapping out your exercise plan.

Productive time

  1. Take this time to put all those old pictures in an album, or to turn your digital prints into real photos. Consider learning how to scrapbook or create online photo albums of all your digital prints with,, or any other online photo service.
  2. Research and plan ahead for your next vacation.
  3. Become an expert on a specific subject: rent documentaries, read books, and use Google Scholar to do free online research on a certain subject. Ancient Greece? Bird watching? History of golf? Research and learn all about whatever interests you.
  4. Sort out the pile of mail, bills, catalogs etc.,that has been piling up on kitchen counter since before your surgery.
  5. Put your financials online with Quickbooks or a similar financial management program.
  6. Make some gifts the old fashioned way. Knit or crochet a baby blanket for someone who’s expecting a baby soon, needlepoint something to decorate the baby’s nursery, or make advance holiday gifts.
  7. Learn the almost-lost art of lace making.
  8. Learn to write left handed (or right handed, if you’re a lefty) to exercise a new part of your brain.
  9. Inventory all the stuff you want to get rid of around the house and garage, and sell it on eBay or Craigslist.
  10. Get started on that novel you’ve always wanted to write.
  11. Make a Honey-do (or handyman) list for all those odd jobs that need to get done around the house.
  12. Help build the online encyclopedia Wikipedia by editing or starting any topic where you have expertise.
  13. Learn origami and create beautiful origami gift boxes or figures.
  1. Learn calligraphy and make your handwritten notes gorgeous! This is especially valuable if you have horrible handwriting like mine…
  2. Create a list of recipes that are easy to prepare that you can make once you’re up and around but still recovering. Keep track of them online with Pinterest.
  3. Learn a new language using Rosetta Stone. Many libraries carry the Rosetta Stone program. Or, learn sign language.
  4. Research the health professionals you plan to see once you are ready to leave your home:massage therapists, physical therapists, personal trainers, etc.
  1. Order personalized stationery or address stamps or stickers. Or, if you send out an annual card, get to work designing it and updating your address list.

Feeling better by doing good

  1. Every day write a short thank you (or love note) to the person who is caring for you and put it in the same place for them to find each day.
  2. Write thank you notes to everyone in the hospital who was helpful to you. Go on the hospital’s social media sites and comment on the positive experiences you had.
  3. Help a homeless animal find a home by sharing their stories and pictures from rescue groups on Facebook. Start here.
  4. Pray in your own way. Research new prayers and devotionals.
  5. Read online verses from the Bible about healing and related topics.
  6. E-mail thank you notes to all the websites you found especially helpful (hint, hint!)…it makes all the hard work worth it! Contact us.
  7. Anytime you reach out to help someone else in need, you will feel less lonely and less depressed. Volunteer with an organization that allows you to call and talk to people who are lonely, such as people in nursing homes or people confined to their house.
  1. If you don’t yet have a cause that you’re passionate about, research one online (start here) and make a plan to start donating your time and energy to something you care about once you can get around.
  2. Be an excellent host or hostess. Send out invitations to your friends and family, schedule visits, greet your visitors enthusiastically even when you’re in pain, and encourage them to talk about themselves and their lives. It will go a long way to help take your mind off your situation, and will make it a pleasant visit all around.

Getting mobile again

  1. If you can’t walk much yet, have someone drive you to Wal-Mart or Target and ride one of the scooters.
  2. Schedule appointments with the professionals you researched from #42. Put the appointments in your calendar, and mentally prepare for them.
  3. Just walk, walk, walk. Try to gradually work up to 10,000 steps a day.
  • See Exercise Walking for Better Back Health
  • Get comfortable shoes for walking that are easy to get on and off. Crocs are a favorite – they’re lightweight, slip on so you don’t have to bend over to get them on or off, and have some traction to help avoid slipping.
  • Walk on a treadmill and set a progressive goal (e.g. go for 2 minutes longer each day) that is OK’d by your doctor. Chart your progress each day so you have a visual confirmation of how far you’ve come!
  1. Sign up for a water therapy – it’s very gentle on your back, as the water supports you while you exercise and prevents any jarring motion.

Of course, check with your doctor first before doing any of the above. Many of these ideas do require a laptop and Internet access. If you don’t have a laptop, you can buy an inexpensive one (starting at $600) or try to borrow one from a friend or family member. Wireless Internet access is a good idea so you can access the Internet from your bed, a recliner, or wherever you’re most comfortable. Courtesy of


Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center has on-site state-of-the-art technology to diagnosis and treat orthopaedic conditions.  For your convenience, both our Warrenton and Gainesville offices are equipped with in-office radiology departments.  Not only does this facilitate rapid diagnosis but it’s also convenient for patients who may be experiencing pain or disability at the time of their visit.

To schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified/ fellowship trained physicians, call our Warrenton office at 540.347.9220, or our
Gainesville office at 703.743.2814, or, click here to make an appointment.  Don’t forget to visit us at for a complete list of all comprehensive musculoskeletal services offered at Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center.

Important Questions to Ask Your Doctor Prior to Surgery


You’ve heard the dreaded words from your doctor – “You need surgery”.   If non-surgical treatments such as pain management and or physical therapy are not improving your orthopaedic condition, surgery may be the course of treatment for you.  Here are some important questions to ask your physician prior to surgery from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

  • Why do I need surgery and are there any other options other than surgery?
  • What are the advantages of this procedure?
  • What are the dis-advantages of this procedure?
  • What is the success rate of this procedure?
  • If I don’t have surgery now, what will happen in the future?
  • Is this surgery going to alleviate my condition?
  • How many of these procedures have you performed at the hospital?
  • Are there any tests or evaluations prior to the procedure?
  • What kind of implant or prosthesis will be used and how long will it last?
  • Are there any risks in the use of anesthesia and will I meet with the anesthesiologist prior to my surgery?
  • If I am in pain after surgery, what are my pain relief/control options?
  • What is my recovery time and what will my limitations be?
  • Will I have any disability after the procedure and will I need physical therapy?
  • When can I return to work and resume normal everyday activities?
  • Will informative materials/information be provided prior to my surgery?

Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center offers up-to-date surgical outpatient facilities devoted exclusively to our patients.  Our Surgical Suite meets the highest standards of care and fully complies with the rigorous requirements of the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, Inc., a nationally recognized credentialing agency.

Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center has on-site state-of-the-art technology to diagnosis and treat orthopaedic conditions.  For your convenience, both our Warrenton and Gainesville offices are equipped with in-office radiology departments.  Not only does this facilitate rapid diagnosis but it’s also convenient for patients who may be experiencing pain or disability at the time of their visit.  To schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified/ fellowship trained physicians, call our Warrenton office @ 540.347.9220, or our Gainesville office at 703.743.2814, or, click here to make an appointment.  Don’t forget to visit us @ for a complete list of all comprehensive musculoskeletal services offered at Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center.

It Just Can’t Get Any Better! Thank you Bill Walton!


The physicians and staff members of Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center  would like to thank not only “Big Red” (Bill Walton) but also colleagues and new friends met at our open house event to celebrate the opening of our new Gainesville location last evening.

Bill Walton gave an amazing presentation and you can certainly understand how Bill (who has lived with debilitating back and leg pain) has gotten himself back into the game of life after undergoing the minimally disruptive XLIF procedure.  Visit for more information on the XLIF procedure.  Jeffrey Wise, MD and Charles Seal, MD of Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center currently perform the XLIF procedure and consistently deliver top notch results.  If you are considering surgery please speak with your doctor about the XLIF procedure and the exciting innovation of MIS (minimally invasive surgery.)  Learn more and speak to other patients who have undergone the XLIF procedure @

Understanding a Pinched Nerve

Back pain can be caused by degenerative disc disease.


What exactly is a pinched nerve?  A pinched nerve occurs when one or more of our nerves are affected due to pressure surrounding tissues such as bones, cartilage, muscles, or tendons.

Results of a Pinched Nerve

  • Sharp or burning pain
  • Difficulty controlling specific muscles
  • Tingling
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness

A pinched nerve can transpire several places in the body.  Here are a few tips to try –

  • Analgesic medications – Aspirin, or anti-inflammatory, (ibuprofen) can control the pain.
  • Ice – Ice is an anti-inflammatory.  It will also relieve pain.  Most often we turn to heat to ease the pain however, this can cause further inflammation and more pain!
  • Physical Therapy – Ice therapy combined with gentle stretching can help relax the affected area.
  • Injections – A localized steroid injection may reduce swelling and inflammation around the pinched nerve.  This is done on an outpatient basis by a physician.

Please see your doctor if the signs and symptoms of a pinched nerve last for more than a few days and don’t improve with conservative treatments as listed above.  Depending on your condition, surgery may be required.

The physicians, pain medicine specialists, and physical therapists of Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center can help.  Our goal is to get you back to good health.  Please contact us today @ 540.347.9220 to schedule an appointment or visit for more information on the comprehensive services we offer.

Lower Back Pain and Surgery



Surgery to treat low back pain can be extensive. Usually, patients are given six to 12 months of more conservative treatment, such as physical therapy, before surgery is recommended for lower back pain.

Recovery is also extensive, taking anywhere from three to 12 months to return to routine daily activity. As with any surgery, success rates vary—in the case of lower back pain, a success rate of between 70 percent and 90 percent is expected, with the main variable being the specific condition being treated.

Osteoarthritis and more

Lower back pain is caused by several factors. In patients 55 and older, it is often caused by degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis) that might result in a narrowing of the canal (spinal stenosis) and/or instability of one vertebral segment, as this Spine-Health article explains. The article continues:

Generally, the low back pain and/or leg pain created by these back conditions will get worse with walking and will improve with sitting. Often, the symptoms will have been present for years, and may get worse at a very slow rate. Once a patient gets to the point that he or she can no longer adequately function because of the low back pain, lumbar decompression with or without spine fusion may be recommended to help increase the individual’s activity tolerance and quality of life.

Spine surgery is usually elective and follows many months of alternative treatment. However there are two scenarios that may require emergency back surgery. As Spine-Health explains:

  • Sudden bowel and/or bladder incontinence (either the inability to retain or hold waste) or progressive weakness in the legs. Either of these symptoms could indicate nerve damage or cauda equina syndrome.
  • Severe, continuous abdominal and back pain, which could indicate an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Our Spine Center experts handle all types of back pain, and provide a range of appropriate treatments, from physical therapy through surgery. If you’re suffering from back pain that is getting worse or won’t go away, contact us @ 540.347.9220 and let’s talk.  Visit to learn more about the comprehensive services offered at Blue Ridge Orthopaedic and Spine Center.