Postoperative Care

What You Need to Know About Postoperative Care

  • Every person is unique and every surgery is different—for that reason, follow the instructions of your healthcare team carefully
  • During the period right after surgery, you are extremely vulnerable to re-injury, pain, and even infection, so you must take reasonable precautions to protect yourself
  • Keep all follow-up appointments, even if they are a hassle—your medical team needs to monitor your progress
  • At times during the postoperative period, you may feel like your old self. Continue to take precautions for as long as your medical teams advises you, even as you start to feel better. You are very vulnerable during this postoperative period.

The Postoperative Period

Your procedure at the University Spine Center will probably only take a few hours, but you will need to recover from surgery for several days or weeks. How long your recovery takes depends on many factors:

  • The length of your procedure (it takes longer to recover from long surgeries)
  • The complexity of your procedure (minimally invasive procedures heal more quickly)
  • The type of surgery you had and how well it went
  • Your overall health
  • Your age

People recover at different rates. Do not be alarmed if you know someone who had a similar procedure whose recovery time was faster than yours.

Your physician will advise you as to how long the postoperative recovery period should be.

Restrictions and Requirements

The University Spine Center will discuss specific restrictions with you. As a general rule, these are common requirements:

  • Get plenty of rest—you may be on bed-rest for the first 24 hours
  • Do try to get up and about at least a couple of times a day, even if it is just to go to the bathroom
  • Follow your physician’s instructions about care for the surgical site—you may be asked to keep it bandaged
  • Do not lift anything heavy—ask your doctor how long you need to observe this. When you do start back to lifting objects, go slowly.


Take the medications your doctor prescribed as directed. You probably have received some pain medicine. Pain relievers are strong medicine that are safe only when taken as directed. Do not double-up on doses even if you think you need more.

Many medications can interact with other medications. Drug interactions can be serious.

  • Tell your physician all of the medications you take routinely, including over-the-counter drugs and vitamins or supplements
  • Ask if any new medications you have could interact with drugs you are already taking
  • Follow the doctor’s instructions about which medicines you should take and which should be discontinued (if any)

If you have breakthrough pain or the medicine you have does not help your pain, contact the University Spine Center—do not just take more medicine.

Call the University Spine Center right away if you experience side effects.