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After spine surgery

Recovery following spine surgery takes time and can be hard work, but the effort you put in will help decrease your pain and increase your function. Keep the following tips in mind as you rest and regain strength.

Manage your pain: Surgical pain eases as the days pass. Prescription medicines can be used for severe pain for a short time after your procedure. Tylenol can be used for milder pain. Plan to communicate with your primary care physician about your pain and medications. If you do not have a primary care doctor, it is a good time to establish one by calling Gundersen.

While medicine is an effective way to address pain, it is just one method. The following are alternative pain-relief options that many patients find aid their recovery:

  • Acupuncture
  • Essential oils
  • Heat and cold
  • Music
  • Guided imagery
  • Relaxation techniques

Learn more about managing pain after surgery

Recommendations after spine surgery

Take medication as prescribed: Find a way to remind yourself to take any prescribed medications.

Move daily: Without light exercise or movement, you will not get stronger or recover as well. Gentle movement decreases pain and swelling and helps you meet your recovery goals. Your doctor will let you know how much movement is appropriate for your various stages of recovery. Do not lift or carry more than 10 pounds until your doctor says it is safe. Do not do any repetitive push-pull motions such as mowing, dusting, shoveling, sweeping or vacuuming.

Take care of your incision:
  • You may remove your bandages and take a shower 24 hours after surgery.
  • Do not soak in a bathtub, hot tub, whirlpool or swimming pool for six weeks.
  • Monitor your incision closely. Wash the incision twice per day with plain liquid soap and water.
  • Do not put ointment, peroxide or alcohol on the incision.

Part of taking care of your incision means not only keeping the incision clean, but also preventing it from coming into contact with surfaces that may contain bacteria. After surgery, be sure to have clean sheets on your bed and only wear clean clothes. You also should not share a bed with your pets.

Be aware of the signs of infection: Swelling, bruising and redness are normal around the incision. However, if you have any of the signs of infection listed below, please call a Neurosurgery nurse:

  • Severe or lasting pain that is not relieved by rest, icing or pain medicine
  • Increased swelling
  • Increased redness around incision
  • Increased drainage from incision
  • Fever of 101 degrees F or higher
what to expect

We've taken steps at all our locations to keep you and our staff healthy and safe. Here's what to expect when you visit us.

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