What can I expect after spine surgery?

When you awake in the post-op recovery room after spine surgery, you will notice many things happening at once. You will hear monitors beeping as nurses monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen level and temperature.

Nurses will check your incision. Your incision may have a drain coming from it and ice on the area for comfort. You will have a Foley catheter (rubber tubing to drain your bladder). This will be removed early in your hospital stay.

You will still have your intravenous (IV) line. On your legs you will likely have TED hose, which are like compression stockings. Sequential compression devices (SCDs) are like leg warmers that gently squeeze and release your lower legs. They are there to help prevent blood clots. You may also be wearing a brace or a collar.

When you are ready to be transferred from the recovery room after spine surgery, you'll be transferred to the nursing unit. Your family may visit with you on the nursing unit. You will meet members of your healthcare team and be briefed on your room.

You'll be shown how to contact your nurse, how to operate your bed and television. Your pain will continue to be managed using the zero to 10 pain scale as a guide. You'll be instructed on deep breathing exercises, including the use of your incentive spirometer. Remembering to breathe deeply and expand your lungs can prevent pneumonia as a surgical complication. Use your spirometer as directed.

Your diet and activities will be directed by your doctor. Remember, even though the sun goes down, the nurses will continue monitoring you. They will take your vital signs, they will ask your pain level and they will ask you take your nice deep breaths throughout the night.

In the days following your surgery, you will work with the hospital staff to walk, exercise and perform activities of daily living. Dressing changes will be performed by your doctor at his or her preference. Your healthcare team will manage your pain continuously. A case manager will visit you and discuss your discharge plan and potential equipment needs.

Your healthcare team will educate you on the use of walkers, canes or crutches, the use of back or neck braces and proper positioning.

When considering your discharge, the expected length of stay is determined by your progress. This progress will be assessed by your healthcare team.

After surgery for a ruptured disc, pain is largely alleviated, which leads to an improvement in the quality of life.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.