Post-Op Care: Comprehensive Care After Spinal Surgery
Good post-op spine care is important to the success of your recovery following spinal surgery. At SpineCare of NY, you will have a team of people specifically designed to guide you throughout your recovery, from your first post-operative follow-up appointment to the final steps in your recovery journey and everything in between. Our goal is to provide you with as much information and support as possible, so that you have a detailed picture of what to expect following surgery and can better prepare for your recovery.
It’s not uncommon to feel pain or discomfort post-operatively given the surgical procedure. Many patients also often have intermittent pain, numbness or pins and needles in the extremities secondary to nerve root inflammation or irritation.
If you had surgery with an anterior cervical approach, you may experience difficulty swallowing post-op. This can take weeks to months to improve. You may also feel a sore throat or hoarseness. You can use over-the-counter lozenges (such as Cepacol) for pain control. If your difficulty swallowing begins to worsen once you return home from the hospital, please contact the office. If you experience severe difficulty swallowing or you have any difficulty breathing, please call the office or go to your local emergency department.
If you had a lateral or anterior approach for your thoracic or lumbar spine (where the surgeon goes in through your side), you may feel weakness or pain in the groin, upper leg or flank region. This is not uncommon secondary to the approach.
If you feel your symptoms are severe or are worrisome, please call the office for further assistance.
If you have questions regarding post-op spine care restrictions or guidelines, please refer to the discharge handouts or our website. If your questions are not answered then, please feel free to call the office.
Every patient responds to surgery differently, so we tailor your recovery to fit you. We encourage our patients to not only use us and our expertise as a guide, but to listen to their bodies as well. Your team will provide you with all of the information you need for your specific condition. Please read the discharge instructions for a more detailed outline of what to expect and do post-op.
- Generally, patients are encouraged to walk throughout the post-op recovery process. Walk to your level of tolerance and comfort. If you have weakness, please use your cane or walker for safety.
- You may begin to use a recumbent (back supported) bicycle or elliptical machine between 10-14 days post-op if you feel up to it. Again this is up to your level of tolerance and comfort.
- You may begin to drive 7 to 10 days post-op if you are comfortable sitting and are not using opioid or sedative medications. Use your brace to protect your back.
- Remember you will have restrictions of no bending or twisting of the neck or back (depending on your area of surgery), or heavy weightlifting (around 15lbs) until your second post-op spine care visit for fusions and first post-op spine care visit for non-fusions.
Our goal is to help you plan, whether that is taking time off of work or ensuring that you have the right support at home. We reassure our patients that their SpineCare of NY team is available to answer any questions or concerns that they may have after surgery at any time.
If you your surgery was a fusion, you will see a Physician Assistant for your first post-op visit then the surgeon for your second follow-up visit. If you did not have a fusion, you will most likely see your Surgeon for your first post-op visit. Depending on the specific condition or surgery, some patients will meet with their surgeon for their first follow-up appointment. Typically, you will start out-patient physically therapy after your second post-op visit for fusions and first post-op visit for non-fusions. Please see discharge instructions for your specific surgery’s timelines.
SpineCare of NY has linked all of your discharge/post-op instructions for your spinal surgery for your convenience.