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If you need back surgery, here are some things to consider.
Thanks to minimally invasive techniques, back surgery is easier and less painful than ever before. But surgery still presents patients with challenges as they recover, especially for more involved spinal procedures, such as removing bone spurs or fusing two bones. Here's what to expect if you or a loved one will be undergoing back surgery.
For any back surgery, you can expect pain for several days or more. If your surgery was to relieve pressure on nerves, you might still feel pain, numbness, or weakness along the affected nerves. In the hospital, you’ll most likely receive intravenous pain medication. When you go home, your doctor will give you a prescription for medication you'll take orally.
The site of the surgery will be sutured for up to two weeks. You should check the wound to see if it:
- Begins to open
- Feels warm
- Looks red or swollen
In rare cases, the wound may get infected. Signs of infection include:
- High temperature
- Redness or swelling around the wound
Contact your doctor if you have symptoms associated with an infection.
Depending on the type of surgery, activity might be limited for several weeks to several months. Some considerations include:
- If you’re given a back brace or support, be sure to use it.
- Don't ride in a car, even as a passenger, for two weeks.
- Bend at the knees, not the waist.
- Don’t lift or carry anything over ten pounds.
- Limit walks and the use of stairs in the first two weeks after surgery.
Your doctor will give you exercises to strengthen your muscles, and in some cases he might recommend seeing a physical therapist.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor if you develop an infection. Symptoms might include:
- A wound oozing green or yellow fluid
- Losing feeling in your limbs
- Chest pain or shortness of breath
- Worsening pain
At North Hills Hospital, we’re proud to offer a state-of-the-art Orthopedic Surgery Center with skilled spinal surgery staff. If you’d like a physician referral for any kind of orthopedic care, call 1-855-5NHILLS.