Education

Postoperative Instructions

Following Cervical Spine Surgery

The following is a list of instructions to be followed after neck surgery. Your doctor may add specific instructions to the list below. If there are any questions, feel free to contact us.

What you should expect

  • Following discharge from the hospital, your activity level should gradually increase. You are encouraged to move your neck to the degree that if feels comfortable. Do not try to force stretching of the neck. Over time, stiffness will resolve and range of motion will return.
  • Most patients experience at least a moderate degree of stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and even chest, and may have occasional headache. This is usually more noticeable after inactivity or in the morning upon awakening. It is normal to experience difficulty in swallowing due to swelling of the tissue in the neck, and should be expected to improve over the course of a week.
  • It is not uncommon to experience popping in the neck.
  • The tapes across the incision are called steri-strips and they should remain in place the first week. If they begin to loosen or come off, do not be alarmed. There are stitches under the skin to keep the incision together.
  • You may experience a low-grade fever for several days following the operation. You may take Tylenol. Call the doctor if you have a temperature of greater than 101.5 degrees for three hours, or if there is any redness, swelling, or fever around your incision.
  • You may have a small amount of wound seepage. If you do experience this, the wound should stay covered and the dressing should be changed as needed. If the drainage increases, or is associated with redness, swelling, or fever, you should call the doctor.

Following surgery

  • You may lay in any position that is comfortable to you.
  • No driving until after your first post-operative visit with the doctor.
  • Shoulder stretching exercises (like hugging yourself) and moist heat are helpful, but no neck stretching should be done.
  • Keep the dressing clean and dry for 48 hours. Do not get the dressing wet. If the dressing is bloody or becomes wet, remove the dressing and apply a large Band-Aid. Do not soak in a bathtub. The dressing may be removed after 48 hours.
  • Sexual relations may be resumed as long as the neck is not under any kind of strain.
  • Showering is allowed immediately after surgery. However, avoid getting the incision wet for 48 hours after surgery. Do not get the incision wet if the wound is draining.
  • All questions concerning exercise and return to work will be discussed at your first post-operative visit.

You should call the office if

  • There is more than a small amount of blood-tinged drainage.
  • The drainage appears to contain pus (infection) or if your incision appears red or swollen.
  • Your temperature is greater than 101.5.
  • Your pain is increasingly worse, or if you experience increasing numbness or weakness in your limbs.
  • If you have difficulty passing urine.

How and when to make an appointment

  • You will need to be seen in the office approximately two (2) weeks after surgery to have the wound checked. Please call our office as soon as possible to schedule this appointment.
  • We are always available, should you have any problems. For routine questions or concerns, please contact our office during business hours. If you have an after-hours emergency, please call our office and our answering service will page the doctor on call.

Following Lumbar Spine Surgery

The following is a list of instructions to be followed after lower back surgery. Your doctor may add specific instructions to the list below. If there are any questions, feel free to contact us.

What you should expect

  • Following discharge from the hospital, your activity level should gradually increase. Some walking is encouraged. Try to walk every hour for 10-15 minutes.
  • Most patients experience at least a moderate degree of back pain, stiffness, and muscle spasm. This is usually more noticeable after inactivity or in the morning upon awakening. It is normal to experience aching and numbness in your leg and foot, which resolve over time.
  • You may experience a low-grade fever for several days following the operation. You may take Tylenol. Call the doctor if you have a temperature of greater than 101.5 degrees for three hours, or if there is any redness, swelling, or fever around your incision.
  • You may have a small amount of wound seepage. If you do experience this, the wound should stay covered and the dressing should be changed as needed. If the drainage increases, or is associated with redness, swelling, or fever, you should call the doctor.

Following surgery

  • No lifting, bending, stooping, or twisting until instructed you may do so.
  • No driving until after your first post-operative visit with the doctor.
  • You should consider yourself confined to the house for the first week.
  • If you sit in a chair, it should have a firm back. Avoid prolonged sitting. Travel up stairs carefully and sparingly.
  • Keep the dressing clean and dry for 48 hours. Do not get the dressing wet. If the dressing is bloody or becomes wet, remove the dressing and apply a large Band-Aid. Do not soak in a bathtub. The dressing may be removed after 48 hours.
  • Sexual relations may be resumed after ten days in any position comfortable to your back.
  • Showering is allowed immediately after surgery. However, avoid getting the incision wet for 48 hours after surgery. Do not get the incision wet if the wound is draining.
  • Taking two (2) Advil every four (4) hours while awake will help with pain control.
  • All questions concerning exercise and return to work will be discussed at your first post-operative visit.

You should call the office if

  • There is more than a small amount of blood-tinged drainage.
  • The drainage appears to contain pus (infection,) or if your incision appears red or swollen.
  • Your temperature is greater than 101.5.
  • Your pain is increasingly worse, or if you experience increasing numbness or weakness in your limbs.
  • If you have difficulty passing urine.

How and when to make an appointment

  • You will need to be seen in the office approximately two (2) weeks after surgery to have the wound checked. Please call our office as soon as possible to schedule this appointment.
  • We are always available, should you have any problems. For routine questions or concerns, please contact our office during business hours. If you have an after-hours emergency, please call our office and our answering service will page the doctor on call.

Following Carpal Tunnel Surgery

The following is a list of instructions to be followed after carpal tunnel surgery. Your doctor may add specific instructions to the list below. If there are any questions, feel free to contact us.

What you should expect

  • Following discharge from the hospital, your activity level should gradually increase. For several days your hand may throb if it is not elevated; you may find that you will be more comfortable if you keep your hand elevated as much as possible.
  • After surgery you will have stitches in your wrist that will remain until removed by your surgeon, approximately two (2) weeks after surgery.
  • Once the stitches are removed and the hand gets wet, you will notice that the incision will appear to split in the middle. This is a normal part of the healing process. Over the next ten days the hard and dry skin edges around the incision will peel off like a scab.
  • It is not uncommon to have soreness after the surgery. Over-the-counter medications should be sufficient to help.
  • You may experience a low-grade fever for several days following the operation. You may take Tylenol. Call the doctor if you have a temperature of greater than 101.5 degrees for three hours, or if there is any redness, swelling, or fever around your incision.
  • You may have a small amount of wound seepage. If you do experience this, the wound should stay covered and the dressing should be changed as needed. If the drainage increases, or is associated with redness, swelling, or fever, you should call the doctor.

Following surgery

  • No heavy lifting or pressure across the incision on your wrist.
  • You may drive after your first office visit, unless otherwise instructed by your surgeon.
  • Once the stitches are removed, the incision should still be pampered for about two (2) more weeks. It is all right to get the incision wet after the stitches have been removed.
  • After surgery, exercise your fingers by moving them about. In order to avoid wrist stiffness, gently move the wrist from time to time.
  • Taking two (2) Advil every four (4) hours while awake will help with pain control.
  • All questions concerning exercise and return to work will be discussed at your first post-operative visit.

You should call the office if

  • There is more than a small amount of blood-tinged drainage.
  • The drainage appears to contain pus (infection) or if your incision appears red or swollen.
  • Your temperature is greater than 101.5.
  • Your pain is increasingly worse, or if you experience increasing numbness or weakness in your limbs.
  • If you have difficulty passing urine.

How and when to make an appointment

  • Your physician will tell you when you need to have your incision checked. Please call our office as soon as possible to schedule this appointment.
  • We are always available, should you have any problems. For routine questions or concerns, please contact our office during business hours. If you have an after-hours emergency, please call our office and our answering service will page the doctor on call.