While each surgery is unique there are some universal guidelines regarding post-operative spine care. Below is what you can expect after your spine surgery.


Expect a prescription for medication upon discharge from the hospital. Please follow the instructions for administration closely, and call our staff if you experience problems taking your medication.

REMEMBER: Do not take arthritis medications (NSAIDs such as Aleve, Advil, Naproxin, Daypro, Motrin and Excedrin) or aspirin for at least three months after all fusion surgeries unless instructed by your surgeon.

Prescription Refills

Leave a phone message with the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your doctor's name
  • The medication you are requesting
  • Your pharmacy phone number, including area code

Antibiotics – Take them until the bottle is completely finished.

Prescription Refills – Make requests before 3pm through our office.

NOTE: Narcotic Refills will not be given over the weekend or after 3pm weekdays.

Follow Up Appointments

Unless otherwise indicated by your physician, your first post operative appointment will be between one and six weeks following your surgery. Most often, an appointment will be made at the time of discharge from the hospital. If not, please call our office between the hours of 8am – 4pm, Monday through Friday to schedule this appointment.

Incision Care

Check your incision at least twice daily for the first two weeks for any sign of infection. These signs include increased warmth or redness to the area, swelling, discharge, or unexplained increasing pain in the incision not relieved by bed rest or local application of ice, five to ten minutes, three times a day. Do not place anything other than a dry dressing on your incision unless instructed by your surgeon; no vitamins, no ointments, no jells etc.

Dressing Changes

You may change the dressing the day after you return home. A small amount of reddish-brown drainage is not unusual for one to two days. Please report any other type or amount of drainage to our office. The dressing may be discontinued 24 hours after your incision stops draining or spotting. Showers may begin two days after your drainage stops. You may take tub baths two weeks after surgery or three months after fusion surgery.

If your surgeon used Steri-Strips (adhesive skin closures), they should be kept on the incision until then fall off after surgery. You may shower as the protocol for your particular surgery permits. Remember to gently dry the incision area/Steri-Strips. It is common for the edges of the strips to loosen and curl. In this case, you may gently lift off the strips, but do not pull or jerk to remove them. Do not apply cream / ointments to the incision.

Pain Expectations

After all surgeries, inflammation is a natural process of healing. While we can take the "edge" off your pain, we cannot and do not want to block this process.

A sore throat often occurs after intubation for anesthesia.

Lumbar Fusion – occasional low back pain for three to six months with gradual resolution.

Cervical Surgery – predictable muscle pain for up to six weeks post after surgery.

With each day that passes, you will get stronger and oftentimes, must simply be patient as nature clicks off days on the calendar. You need to be encouraged by the "good days" as the "bad days" get further apart.

Remember to Call Our Office Immediately if you:

  • Have drainage and/or odor from your wound.
  • Have increased redness/swelling at the incision site, or unexplained increasing incision pain not relieved by bed rest.
  • Have fever greater than 101 degrees with sweats or chills.
  • Have new or unfamiliar pain or weakness in the arms or legs.
  • Have difficulty with urination or bowel movements, pain or numbness in the rectal, vaginal or scrotal area.

If you do not get a response from our office for an urgent/emergent matter, please go to your nearest emergency room.


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