Tips After Surgery
Things to Avoid
Occupational Therapy and Return to Independence
Follow-up visits after surgery
When arranging for transportation home, you will need to be accompanied by another adult. Make sure you use a car that is easy to get in and out of. Once you arrive home, please call our office to arrange for a follow-up appointment. This appointment should be approximately 10 days from your date of surgery. (Scoliosis patients usually do not need to return for their first visit until 3 weeks post surgery.) At this appointment we will examine the sutra line and take out any non-absorbable stitches. To make your appointment call 212 844-8680.
In the days and weeks following surgery, it is important to remember that you will need to make some modifications to your normal daily routine. Here are a few tips:
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Pain Management – You may be given narcotic pain medication either prior to or following your surgery. These medications are controlled substances, and cannot be called into a pharmacy. Refills of narcotic prescriptions must be done by mailing the prescription to your home. You will need to hand-carry the prescription to the pharmacy. You need to allow 7 days for renewals. Often the mail works more quickly than this, but should not be relied on. Upon discharge, you will be given a prescription for pain medicine to take at home. Most pharmacies do not carry narcotic pain medicine. It is best to have the prescriptions filled near the hospital. There are several pharmacies in the immediate neighborhood of the hospital that carry narcotic pain medicine as well as a pharmacy in the hospital lobby.
During your surgery you may be given pain medication directly in your spinal canal. This medicine will help with pain management during your first 24 hours of surgery. In addition, following surgery you may be connected to a PCA pump. This is a form of pain medicine given through an intravenous line. You can administer this medication yourself, as needed, by pressing on a device at your bedside. The length of time you will need this medicine will be variable.
Once you are feeling more comfortable, you will begin taking pain medicine by mouth. You will not be discharged to go home until you have good control with pain medicine by mouth. Additionally, in many cases, we have the Pain Management Service visit you and assist with your pain management.
The length of time you will be on pain medication varies considerably from patient to patient. Some patients need pain medications for only a brief period of time. Others may need pain medicines for several months. Generally, most patients have finished using pain medications by 3 months following surgery. If pain medication is needed past this point, we will refer you to a pain management specialist, who will take over this roll.
Pain medications should be reduced gradually, not stopped suddenly. Suddenly stopping pain medications can make you feel very uncomfortable. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, chills, and diarrhea. If you gradually decrease your medications before stopping, these symptoms will not occur.
This is a common problem for patients who have recently undergone spine surgery. Both pain medications which contain narcotic medication, and iron pills can cause constipation. The following interventions will help relieve constipation:
An occupational therapist at the hospital will help you get back on your feet and doing your daily activities. Your doctor or therapist may alter your therapy program according to your individual needs. After your surgery, the occupational therapist at the hospital will:
You will be scheduled for occupational therapy daily, and an individualized care plan will be developed for you based on your own needs. Occupational therapy will begin on the day of surgery or on the morning after surgery, depending on your doctor’s orders.
You will be discharged from the hospital once your doctor has cleared you medically and once you are able to get in and out of a bed and a chair, get up and down from a toilet seat, take care of your own basic needs, walk and climb stairs independently.
Every operated patient needs to come back at the Spine Institute for follow-up 10 days after surgery and 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. Unless instructed otherwise by your surgeon, you may have to come back for follow-up 3 months after surgery, 6 months after surgery, 12 months after surgery, 24 months after surgery and in some instance afterwards. Please make sure to come back at the above periods (or as instructed by your surgeon). To make an appointment, call 212 844-8680.
When you come for follow-up, we will ask you to fill out questionnaires on your health (except at the 10-day follow-up). Please take the time to fill those out. Your answers are used for monitoring of your health and quality assurance. You may also fill out the questionnaires at home before your visit and bring them to us:
If you have an emergency and you need to reach our offices after the office has closed for the day, you can call 212 844-8680. You will reach our answering service. They will forward a message to the covering physician.