Surgical After Care
After care involves the care and instructions you receive after spine surgery. Nursing staff will monitor your condition from the moment your surgery is completed. When the anesthesia begins to wear off, you'll be taken to a hospital room until you are ready to go home. Depending on the surgical procedure, your stay in the hospital could be from one to five days.
Learn about after care for spinal surgery including
- what to expect the first few days following surgery
- what the various medical staff will be looking for in your progress
- what considerations will be made with your diet, medication, and activities
- what special instructions should be considered
The type of operation will determine how long you will need to stay in the hospital and how much assistance you will need shortly after surgery. Many procedures for the spine only require one to three nights in the hospital.
Using Your Neck Brace
You may require the use of a brace after surgery. You may have been fitted before surgery with two different types of cervical collars. The Philadelphia collar is made of foam and is used for short periods, such as when you take a shower. The other, called a Miami J, is a hard plastic collar.
The bandages will be removed after surgery. You'll be able to shower wearing your Philadelphia collar when you feel strong enough. You may also shampoo your hair while in the shower, as long as your collar is securely in place. After your shower, towel dry as normal, while keeping your Philadelphia collar on securely. Then lie flat on your back with the Miami J collar by your side. Undo the Velcro on the wet collar and remove the front portion, while keeping your neck still. Wash your neck area with water and mild soap, and then pat dry. You can also shave in this position. Have a family member or friend inspect your incision for signs and symptoms of infection (see your discharge sheet). Or you can use a hand-held mirror to inspect your wound.
Replace the front portion of the wet collar with the dry collar. Holding the front portion of the Miami J collar firmly with one hand, roll like a log to your side. Be careful to keep your neck still, and remove the back portion of the wet collar. Wash the back of your neck, and then pat the area dry. Replace with the back portion of the dry collar. Roll like a log onto your back, and attach the Velcro straps in place. The Miami J (blue and white) is to be worn full-time until the first time you return to your doctor after the surgery.
Do not use lotions, powders, or oils on your incision while it is in the healing process. If skin irritation occurs, try wearing a silk scarf under your brace. This can be very soothing and help decrease irritation.
Your doctor or therapist may issue self-care aids such as chair cushions, a raised toilet seat, or bathing aids to reduce strain while you heal.
You will be able to return home when your medical condition is stable. You may be instructed to limit your activities for a period of time to give your body a chance to heal. As you prepare to leave the hospital, be sure to follow the instructions given by your health care team.