Spine Surgery Guide
At UnityPoint Health, we aim to support you in your surgery and beyond. We know that patients who are well-informed before their spine surgery have better results. That's why we give you the tools and classes to prepare for your surgery.
This guide will help you and your support person know what to expect from your spine or back surgery and your recovery. If you're having a spinal fusion procedure, our Orthopedic Academy will give you more information and another chance to ask questions.
Preparing for Spinal Fusion Surgery
You can take steps in advance to make your recovery easier. You can plan to:
- Arrange for a support person who to help you with household chores and errands.
- Get your house ready, with things you need in easy reach. Remove throw rugs or anything else that could be a tripping hazard.
- Make and freeze meals.
- Quit tobacco products.
- Ask your doctor if you should keep taking your medications, vitamins and supplements.
The night before your surgery, follow any instructions your surgeon gives you. Usually you should:
- Avoid eating and drinking after midnight or as instructed.
- Arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery.
- If you live alone, prepare to have someone stay with you for a night or two after your procedure.
What to Expect on the Day of Your Spine Surgery
Your doctor and care team will help you understand what to expect from your specific spine or back surgery. However, there are a few things that you can expect:
When you check in, we'll take you to the surgical preparation area (pre-op). In pre-op, nurses and technicians may:
- Review your health history and medications
- Draw blood
- Ask you to walk in the hall to keep your circulation strong
- Review a pain scale
- Show you how to use an incentive spirometer (a device you breathe in to exercise your lungs)
- Start an IV for fluids and medicines
Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will talk to you and get your anesthesia ready. Your surgeon will mark where you are having surgery. Then we'll guide your support person to the waiting lounge, where we'll keep them updated.
After surgery, we'll move you to recovery. As you slowly wake up, we'll stabilize and help you. When you're ready, we'll move you to your room. During recovery:
- Our anesthesiologist and dedicated nurse monitor you.
- We'll put special stockings, wraps and a compression machine on your legs.
- You may have oxygen in your nose.
- You may have a pain control device, breathing tube or other device.
- We'll test your blood again and may take an X-ray.
- Your surgeon will see you.
- Your family may be able to visit.
In your hospital room
You may be in recovery overnight. Nurses will monitor you and have you use the incentive spirometer.
You can have ice chips or water, then transition to a clear liquid diet. You might sit up or get into a chair.
What to Expect After Surgery
You'll be in the hospital for a few days. Nurses and technicians will keep monitoring you. Gradually, we'll help you get back to normal activities.
On day 1, you may:
- Be able to eat and drink as you wish
- Have a sponge bath and start taking care of yourself
- Have physical therapy in the morning and afternoon
- Start reviewing your medications and discharge plans
On day 2, you can expect to wear your own clothes. At this time, our care team will:
- Remove your catheter, epidural, femoral nerve block, surgical dressing and other items
- Provide pain pills before therapy and as needed
- Continue with physical therapy twice a day
- Begin occupational therapy so you can bathe and get dressed
- Determine if you are ready for discharge
After day 2, we'll assess any discharge concerns. We may ask a family member to watch your therapy sessions so they can help you at home.
Spine and Back Surgery Recovery at Home
Your doctor will give you instructions on how to take care of yourself at home. It may take several months to recover completely. You may need to:
- Restrict activities that put stress on your back or neck.
- Ask your surgeon when you can drive or begin normal activities.
- Start therapy right away or after you have been home for a while.
When to call your surgeon
Your care team is available if you have questions about your recovery. You should call your surgeon immediately if you experience:
- Increase in pain, redness or drainage from your incision
- Fever of 100.4 F or higher
- New pain, weakness or numbness in your leg
Call UnityPoint Health – Peoria Orthopedic Services at 833-662-3278 with questions or to set up an appointment.
Methodist Orthopedic Services
Mazor X™ Robotic-Assisted Surgery
221 NE Glen Oak Ave.
Peoria, IL 61636
Proctor Orthopedic Services
Midwest Orthopaedic Hospital
5409 N Knoxville Ave.
Peoria, IL 61614
Pekin Orthopedic Services
600 S. 13th St.
Pekin, IL 61554
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