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Spine Surgery Guide


Surgery

What To Expect After Surgery

A plastic drain will be seen through the surgical dressing to remove any blood that accumulates in the surgical area. The drain will probably be removed on the second day after surgery. The dressing will also be changed and a smaller one applied.

An IV may remain in your arm for two to three days to administer antibiotics or other medications you may need. This helps prevent infection and gives you proper nourishment until you are eating and drinking comfortably. You will begin regular fluid and food intake under the direction and advice of your surgeon. You may be given a "pain pump" or PCA-patient controlled anesthesia pump for the first 1 to 2 days after surgery.

After the acute pain has diminished, usually the day after surgery, a physical therapist will help you begin standing and walking again. They will also show you the proper way to get in and out of bed, sit and stand, and sleep position.

Pain

It is normal to have pain after your operation. It will be most severe in the lower back area where the surgery was done. Residual leg pain is not unusual, this is caused by swelling of the previously compressed nerve as well as from surgery itself. There may be muscle spasms across the back and down the legs. Medication will be perscribed to help relieve the pain and /or spasms.

Constipation

Constipation is a significant side effect of the pain medication. Your doctor will order a laxative to relieve constipation. We also recommend a diet of whole grain cereals, fruit and fruit juices.

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Activity

Initially, you are permitted to get out of bed following surgery with assistance from a nurse. Thereafter, you should be up walking as much as tolerated. The goal is to do more walking each day. Start with short trips and set a graduated pace so that each day more activity is accomplished. The easiest way for you to get out of bed is to raise the head of the bed as far as it will go, balance yourself in a sitting position, then stand with weight distributed on the skeletal frame, to avoid straining of back muscles. Avoid prolonged sitting. Initially, you should only sit for meals.

General Attitude

It is normal to feel physically and emotionally let down and tired the second and third day after surgery. This may be a natural reaction to the stress of surgery and the lingering effects of anesthesia. While this feeling is not uncommon, it must not be allowed to get in the way of your positive attitude that is essential for recovery to normal activity.

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Discharge from the hospital

The hospital stay for a lumbar laminectomy is approximately 2-3 days. Your progress and comfort will determine this.

At home you may climb stairs from the start; but slowly, one step at a time. You should be active, walking as much as possible, but avoid being tired. Lie down to rest as needed. Avoid prolonged sitting. You may sit in a hardback wood chair for meals and short periods. (10-15 minutes three times a day).

Walking each day is excellent exercise. You should begin with short trips and increase your distance up to 4-5 miles daily. This will take no more than one hour per day. Avoid pulling, pushing or lifting. In the future, always protect your back when lifting or bending. Proper body mechanics involve using your knees and not your back during these activities.

Follow-up to remove staples will be scheduled for ten to fourteen days following surgery. Another follow-up to see progress will be scheduled four to six weeks following surgery. Other follow-ups which may continue for as long as a year after surgery, will be scheduled depending on progress.
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This information is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient.
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