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Post-Operative Instructions for Spine Surgery

Symptoms to Report to Dr. Button

  1. Shortness of breath or chest pain.
  2. Bleeding, drainage, redness or swelling from your incisional area.
  3. Feelings of flu-like symptoms or temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit for longer than 24 hours.
  4. New weakness in the arms or legs.
  5. Any loss of bladder or bowel control, or numbness around your groin.
  6. Frequent need to urinate small amounts of urine or feeling of bladder distention.

Activity

  1. Avoid bending, lifting, pushing, pulling, or twisting until advised by Dr. Button.
  2. To get something that is at a low level: squat, keeping your back straight.
  3. Gradually increase activity as tolerated. As you increase your activity you may experience some discomfort or moderate pain. This is normal and should decrease with rest.
  4. No exercises except walking (for up to 30 minutes) until advised by Dr. Button. You may go up and down stairs.
  5. You may apply an ice pack to the low back three times a day for about 20 minutes for comfort and to reduce swelling.

Care of Incision / Dressing

  1. Leave the surgical dressing in place for 3 days. If the dressing becomes soaked with blood, change the dressing but leave the steri strips (skin tape over the incision) in place.
  2. After 3 days you may remove the dressing and shower. You can leave the incision open to air if your wound is dry or cover it if you prefer. Do not shower if the wound is still draining or bleeding.
  3. Do not scrub the incision while showering. Gently pat the area dry.
  4. Do not soak in a bath tub or hot tub.

Diet

Decreased activity and pain medications can cause constipation. To prevent this, eat foods high in fiber and drink 6 – 8 glasses of fluid per day. Your bowels should be working normally within 5 days of surgery.

Medications

You will be sent home with pain medications. You may take these as prescribed. As your pain lessens, you should decrease the amount of pain medication you are taking. We suggest that you substitute the narcotics with Tylenol as your pain level decreases. If you need additional narcotic prescriptions call before the weekend.

Follow-up Appointment

Your first follow-up appointment will be about 2 weeks after your date of surgery.

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