POST OPERATIVE CARE FOLLOWING LUMBAR SURGERY

Full recovery is possible if patient’s follow their lumbar surgery postoperative instructions. We encourage you to set small goals and focus on meeting those goals for continuous improvement. Keeping a strong, positive attitude goes a long way to post operative recovery.

Our team of dedicated neurosurgeons will discuss your lumbar surgery post operative care plan with you and are here to answer questions or discuss concerns with you, every step of the way.

If you have questions about your neurosurgery post operative care plan, call (603) 448-0447 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. In case of any emergency during non-business hours please dial the same main number and follow the prompts to page the neurosurgeon-on-call.

PAIN

It is normal to have pain after your surgery; especially in the low back. This does not mean that the procedure was unsuccessful or that your recovery will be delayed. Leg aching is also not uncommon. This is primarily caused by inflammation of the previously compressed nerve; the discomfort will gradually decrease as the nerve continues to heal. You may also experience muscle spasms across your back and into your legs. Medications will be given to control pain and decrease spasm intensity. Moist heat and or ice and frequent repositioning may also be of further help.

NUTRITION

Intravenous (I.V.) fluids will be discontinued when you can tolerate regular liquids without nausea or vomiting. Your diet will then be adjusted back to normal as your appetite returns. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, particularly water, and eat whole grain cereals, fruits, and fruit juices to combat constipation that is sometimes caused by pain medications. If constipation does occur you may use your choice of an over the counter laxative.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Increase your activity slowly. Daily walking is the best exercise. Try to increase your distance a little each day, setting a pace that avoids fatigue or severe pain. It is normal to tire easily for the first week or so after you return home. Swimming after 10 to 14 days is encouraged if feasible. Do not:

  • Sit for prolonged periods of time for 6 weeks following your surgery. Brief periods of time, not to exceed 30 minutes, are acceptable (i.e.: at meals or while going to the bathroom).
  • Maintain the same position for extended periods. Instead, eliminate muscle spasms and aching by shifting your position and when sitting choose a firm chair that will provide you with plenty of support.
  • Bend at the waist. If you drop something on the floor, pick it up by bending at the knees to lower yourself.
  • Lift anything over 5 pounds (keep in mind a gallon of milk weighs 8 pounds).
  • Lift anything that you cannot easily lift with one hand.

Sexual relations may be resumed during the recovery period, but positions that strain the back or cause pain should be avoided. You may resume other physical activities including work only after consulting with your treating surgeon.

BATHING AND WOUND CARE

You will have Dermabond over the incision (typically a purple glue like substance), with subcutaneous sutures that do not need to be removed. The Dermabond will gradually fall off. Or you may have sutures that require removal. If these are used you will be scheduled for a suture removal within 10 to 14 days of your procedure. You may shower after 3-5 days. Do not:

  • Scrub the incision. Pat the area dry with a towel after showering.
  • Soak the incision (i.e.: baths, swimming etc.) until you are approximately 2 weeks out from your surgery.

DRIVING

Consult your surgeon in regards to your current driving status. There are no set time restrictions. Use common sense and do not attempt to resume driving until you feel completely comfortable to drive in an uninhibited manner. It is recommended that you do not drive for the first 1-2 weeks while taking high doses of narcotic pain relievers.

FOLLOW-UP APPOINTMENT INSTRUCTIONS

You will be scheduled for a follow-up appointment with a Physician Assistant in 4-6 weeks following your neurosurgery procedure. You will have a follow-up appointment with the neurosurgeon in 3 months. If you have sutures that need to be removed, a suture removal appointment will be made in 10-14 days following your surgery with a Physician Assistant.

CALL YOUR SURGEON IF….

  • You develop a fever of over 101 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • You have redness, swelling, pain and/or drainage from your incision.
  • You experience urinary problems.
  • You experience any NEW weakness or numbness in your arms or legs.

The nursing staff at the hospital will review discharge instructions with you and answer any questions prior to your discharge. A follow-up appointment with a Physician Assistant will be arranged in 4-6 weeks following surgery. You will also have a follow up appointment scheduled with the surgeon 3 months post surgery.

If you have any questions prior to receiving your call, please contact Upper Valley Neurology Neurosurgery at (603) 448-0447 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. In case of any emergency during non-business hours please dial the same main number and follow the prompts to page the neurosurgeon-on-call.