What to Expect Before and After Spine Surgery

When you and your surgeon have made the decision that spine surgery is right for you, you will be supported by a full team of health care professionals who will guide you through each step of surgery.

View our electronic Patient’s Guide to Spine Surgery.

Before Your Procedure

During the pre-operative phase, you will maintain communication with your physician’s office and follow the pre-surgical plan to ensure you have a successful procedure. On the day of your spinal surgery, our admitting team will make you comfortable and make sure your paperwork is taken care of. Next, your vitals will be taken and you will meet with your anesthesiologist so he or she can ask specific questions to determine which anesthesia is most appropriate for you. Then, you will be greeted by your expert surgeon and his health care team as they begin your procedure.

After Your Procedure

During the post-operative phase, you will arrive safely at your patient room after recovering in the post-anesthesia care unit. A health care team member will check on you periodically and manage any pain you are having. You and your family should anticipate one to three days of hospitalization, depending on your procedure. Your work toward recovery begins the first day after surgery. It is a busy day, but members of your health care team will work with you toward the goal of walking comfortably again. You will be encouraged to use pain medication so you can comfortably participate in all activities and to use a spirometer to encourage deep breathing. Physical therapists and occupational therapists may help you get reacquainted with basic movements and tasks as part of your recovery process.

Getting Ready to Go Home

Usually by the first or second day after surgery you should be able to walk 20 to 40 feet with minimal assistance. Most patients are discharged home at this point. Your ability to walk and care for yourself will continue to increase as you perform your daily activities. The nurse will review your discharge instructions and any medications to be taken at home. You will be given your doctor’s phone number so you can call if needed, and you will also make a follow-up appointment. When necessary, a case manager will visit with you and your family to identify your needs for discharge. She will discuss with you any necessary equipment or services that you will need at home.

Follow-up Care

To further your recovery process, an outpatient physical therapy and/or occupational therapy evaluation may be recommended. This promotes your general wellbeing and focuses on improving your strength, endurance, posture, and teaches you about proper body mechanics. Especially when moving from one position to another to prepare you for resuming daily activities or returning to work.

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