No surgical recovery is pain-free. Nevertheless. Once you go home, you will gradually increase your level of daily activities. For example, increasing the amount and distance of walking you do every day will decrease pain and improve your appetite.
For at least 6 months, do not fully bend over or twist your back, and do not take part in activities such as gymnastics, contact sports (football, basketball, and hockey), skiing, or bicycle riding. Your surgeon will tell you when it’s safe to resume these activities. He will also tell you when you can start swimming.
Don’t worry if you feel tired during the first few weeks after the surgery. Remember, it takes time to fully recover from major surgery.
You will have Steri-Strips on your back covering your spinal incision (wound). The Steri-Strips will eventually fall off on their own, or you can gently remove them 10 to 14 days after the surgery. Ask your doctor or nurse about your stitches before you go home. Most stitches are self absorbing and do not have to be removed. Sometimes, staples are used instead of stitches. The staples can be removed 10 to 14 days after the surgery. Your family doctor can do this.
It’s important to monitor your wound for signs of infection, which include swelling, tenderness, redness, the incision separating or increased, or the appearance of foul smelling fluid or pus. If any of these occur, it’s important to notify your surgeon’s office.
You may start to take showers 4 or 5 days after the surgery. Don’t worry if the Steri-Strips get wet. You may want to use soap on a rope so you will not be tempted to bend over to pick up the soap. We recommend that you do not bend down to sit in a bathtub. Your doctor will tell you when it’s OK to take a tub bath. You may not eat well for a week or two after the surgery. Small meals and snacks every 2 to 3 hours will help you maintain a well balanced diet. You should eat foods from each food group every day. These groups are milk and dairy products, vegetables and fruits, meats, fish and poultry, and breads and cereals.
You may be constipated because of the pain medication and lack of physical activity. However, eating a high fibre diet (one containing whole grain breads and cereals, fresh fruit, raw vegetables, etc.) and drinking plenty of water and juices will help prevent constipation.