Post-operative care is just as important as the low back surgery itself. Proper care following any type of back surgery can help facilitate healing and reduce the risk of re-injury that may negate any benefits of the procedure. While post-op care directions will vary among Los Angeles spine surgeons, there are some basic after-surgery questions and answers that can apply to any type of low back surgery.
Q.: How Much Will My Activities Be Restricted?
A.: It’s recommended that people who have undergone back surgery avoid long drives and plane rides for the first few months after surgery to prevent re-injury, especially if fusion surgery has been performed. You’ll also want to modify your exercise routine, focus on what’s recommended by your physical therapist, avoid heavy lifting.
Q.: What Medications Will I Need to Take?
A.: You’ll be prescribed pain medications following surgery. However, you’ll likely need to temporarily stop taking NSAIDs, such as arthritis medications, since such medications may affect bone healing. Medications can be ordered in advance to avoid post-surgery trips to the pharmacy.
Q.: Can I shower and bathe following surgery?
A.: You should be able to shower 24-48 hours after your lower back surgery. However, do not remove the gauze bandage, although it should be changed after you shower. Tub bathing and soaking should be avoided for a few weeks until the surgery site heals, although mild soap and water is fine.
Q.: What about incision drainage?
A.: Some minor drainage is normal. If the bandage becomes soaked, monitor your temperature, and call your contact person at the hospital for instructions.
Q.: How long should I stay in bed?
A.: Some initial bed rest is fine. However, you should make an effort to walk and climb the stairs in your home to avoid muscle weakness.
Q.: How often do I have to wear my brace?
A.: A brace is worn for approximately 12 weeks following spine fusion surgery, and 3-4 weeks following non-fusion procedures, such as a laminectomy or anterior discectomy without fusion. You’ll wear the brace when you’re out of bed, although it doesn’t have to worn while sleeping, showering, or going to the restroom.
If you’re unsure whether or not to undergo spine surgery in Los Angeles and would like to learn more about your pain relief options, give The Spine Institute a call at (310) 828-7757. You can schedule an in-person consultation with one of our board-certified spine surgeons in Los Angeles who can evaluate your current situation to determine the best course of action