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Your spine is a vitally important structure that supports your body while providing enough flexibility for movement. Most of the time, back pain is linked to an injury or spinal degeneration — the wear and tear of joints, discs, ligaments and bones in the spine. 

  • Preparing For Surgery
    Choose Your Recovery Helper Make arrangements with a friend or family member who’s available to stay with you day and night for the first week after surgery. This person can help you with your daily activities as well as transportation. Stop Smoking Studies show that nicotine use inhibits bone fusion and delays healing, so entering into surgery nicotine-free promotes the best possible outcome. This is why our patients must stop using all nicotine-containing products for 4 weeks before surgery, and in addition your surgeon may require a urine nicotine test.
  • After Surgery
    Wearing a brace You may need to wear a brace following your surgery. It’s important to wear this brace throughout the whole day, but it isn’t necessary while sleeping. Walking Walking promotes healing by keeping healthy blood circulating. It also helps prevent blood clots, pneumonia, and constipation. Make it a priority to walk 1 mile every day after surgery, either all at once or broken up throughout the day. Travel If you feel up to it, traveling on a plane is permitted 4 weeks after your surgery, and traveling as a passenger in a car is fine anytime after surgery. To decrease the risk of blood clots and stiffness, remember to take regular stretching and moving breaks for all trips over 1 hour. Returning to Work Since work duties vary greatly between jobs and individuals, you and your surgeon will discuss a return-to-work plan that’s tailored to you. It’s important to return to activities slowly and gradually, paying attention to signs you may be pushing yourself too quickly (like fatigue and pain). Post-Op Do’s and Don’ts Do: ✔ Wear your brace at all times while out of bed ✔ Walk 1 mile every day ✔ Change positions often ✔ Limit sitting to 20 minutes at a time ✔ Keep incisions clean and dry ✔ Wear compression stockings until daily mile walks are consistent Don’t: ✖ Lift anything over 5 pounds ✖ Bend or twist in repetitive ways ✖ Smoke ✖ Take anti-inflammatories until cleared with by surgeon Please report any of these post-op concerns to your surgeon: Increased drainage from your incision Increased leg pain or weakness Increased swelling or redness around the incision site Fever or chills Nausea or vomiting Prolonged constipation Calf pain ALERT: Chest pain or shortness of breath is considered a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical attention.
  • Lumbar Spinal Fusion
    This surgery is useful in instances where joints have degenerated. It involves joining two vertebrae together to stop movement in a particular area of the spine, ideally reducing pain. The surgeon can approach this task from the front, side, or back of the body. Click here to learn more about Spinal Fusion. Click here to learn more about Anterior Lumbar Spinal Fusion. Click here to learn more about Lateral Lumbar Spinal Fusion.
  • Discectomy
    This procedure helps relieve the pressure on nerves that can sometimes cause leg pain. The surgeon would remove a fraction of the spinal disc that’s putting pressure on surrounding nerves through a small incision, making this a minimally-invasive surgery.
  • Laminectomy
    This surgery is helpful in cases where the spinal canal has become too narrow and the compressing of spinal nerves causes pain. It involves removing whatever bone or ligament caused the narrowing of the spinal canal, which in turn can relieve pressure and pain.
  • Posterior Cervical Spine Fusion
    This surgery joins two vertebrae together to prevent movement in the specific area causing pain. Often, a decompression (removing bone or ligament that’s causing pressure on your spinal cord) is performed at the same time. Click here to learn more about Spinal Fusion.
  • Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF)
    This procedure is used to address disc herniation, spinal stenosis, and/or spondylosis via an incision in the front of the neck. The main benefit of this frontal approach is that the spinal discs can be worked on without disrupting the spinal cord. Click here to learn more about Spinal Fusion.
  • Total Cervical Disc Arthroplasty
    This is an alternative to vertebrae fusion that actually preserves the motion of the spine. An artificial disc is implanted via a small incision on the front of the neck that acts similarly to the body’s own spinal discs. Click here to learn more about surgical treatments for Cervical Radiculopathy.
  • What is minimally invasive spine surgery?
    Click here to learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery.
  • How long is my hospital stay?
    Depending on the procedure, you will go home the same day or spend 1-3 nights in the hospital.
  • How long will I be on pain medication?
    Most patients take pain medication for about 3-10 days after surgery.
  • When can I drive?
    This depends on the procedure, but generally patients return to driving once they’re no longer taking pain medications and are past first week of recovery.
  • When will I start physical therapy?
    Depending on the procedure, patients often start physical therapy about 2-8 weeks after surgery.
  • When do I start walking a mile a day?
    You will be up and walking one mile in the hospital before being sent home.
  • How long do I need to wear my stockings?
    Keep wearing compression stockings until you’ve walked a mile a day, for 5 days in a row.
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