Now that your surgery is behind you, the recovery process is your main priority. To help you manage your expectations we've outlined the main steps in this process.
The amount of time you spend in the hospital will vary depending on procedure types and individual patient needs. Generally, a cervical surgery and lumbar decompression surgery requires a two day hospital stay. Fusion surgery can require a four to five day stay and minimally invasive lumbar fusions sometimes a one to two day stay. Complex surgeries and other revision and reconstruction surgeries will likely require extended hospital time. The individual patient's general condition and age will greatly influence the length of stay.
The first day after surgery is a day of rest. Pain medication will be adjusted and tests will be performed as needed. Therapists may help you to stand up and walk as tolerated with their help. A PCA (Patient Controlled Analgesia Pump) is often used to enable you to administer and control your own pain meds.
If you have drainage tubes in the incisions they should be removed on the second day. Dressings are changed and the PCA pump is slowly decreased and replaced with oral medication. Physical therapy continues with more walking and sitting up.
Day 3 to 5
The concentration during this time is to get back to a regular diet and void normally. The decision as to when you are ready to go home will be made based on these issues as well as clearance by the Physical Therapists. Formal outpatient physical therapy does not begin until 6 weeks post op. If more rehab is required, you will be prescribed to outpatient rehab at a PT facility.
Discharge day will be very busy. You will be given discharge instructions and any prescriptions you may need. When planning home transportation keep in mind that you should make sure it is in a car or truck that is easy to get in and out of. You will not be allowed to drive yourself home.