After staying in the hospital for a few days, you will be discharged to home. Before that, your doctor will make sure that you have normal vital signs and bladder function, you can eat without feeling nauseated and there are no signs of infection at the incision site.
Your doctor and other members of the hospital staff will also give you some self-care instructions for you to follow at home that are crucial to your recovery. These are a list of “dos and don’ts,” which you will be asked to follow for the first 6 to 8 weeks of your home recovery. These may include the following:
- Avoid sitting and standing for longer than 20 to 30 minutes at one time and try to change positions frequently to avoid muscle spasms and leg cramps.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Abstain from smoking as nicotine slows bone healing.
- Good nutrition is essential for a successful recovery. Eat a healthy diet, high in protein and rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of fluids. Avoid heavy, fattening foods and foods that are high in calories.
- Short walks for the first few weeks after the spinal surgery are encouraged. Walking is a low impact exercise that builds strength and maintains muscle tone. The distance you walk can be gradually increased. Deep-breathing exercises are also helpful.
- Avoid carrying or lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds.
- Avoid bending at the waist. Rather, bend at your knees to pick up things. Also avoid twisting the back.
- Totally avoid driving the car for the first few weeks after your surgery. You can ride in the car only for short distances during this time. Later, if your doctor permits you may take short trips when necessary.
- Avoid any strenuous activities. Even avoid vacuuming and more strenuous household cleaning. Do not go for swimming, golfing, and running or participate in any other sports activity until your doctor permits.
- Keeping the incision dry for first 5 – 7 days is important. Avoid taking showers until your doctor permits you to do so. Also avoid applying any skin lotion on the incision area.