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  • Discharge Instructions

  • Neurosurgery 

    Discharge Instructions

    Decompressive Lumbar Laminectomy

    What to Expect

    Most people who have back operations recover quickly and return home a few days after the operation. Early in your recovery you should avoid twisting and heavy lifting. It is important, however, to avoid prolonged bed rest, which can lead to lung problems and blood clots in the legs. Taking walks, either outside or inside, and then lying down to rest is an excellent way to safely get the exercise you need. In general, sitting is the position that puts the most stress on your back and you should avoid sitting for long periods of time. Your doctor will let you know when you can drive again and when you can return to work.

    Dos and Don'ts:

    • Do not apply creams, lotions or ointments to your incision. Keeping the wound clean and dry will enable it to heal quickly.

    • Being overweight often aggravates back problems. A diet that avoids large amounts of fatty foods and includes fresh vegetables and foods rich in fiber is helpful in maintaining a normal weight. If you have a weight problem you may wish speak to your doctor about more detailed nutritional information.

    • Both inactivity and many medications used for back pain can cause problems with bowel movements. Steps you can take to prevent constipation include drinking more liquids, walking every day, adding fiber to your diet, and using stool softeners.

    • You may find it difficult to discuss with your doctor when to resume sexual activities after your operation. In general, avoid positions that cause pain and increase stress on your back. Placing a pillow under your knees or behind your back during these activities may also help.

    • You will be given some pain medication to take home with you. Many of these medications can occasionally cause stomach upset. Follow the medication instructions and let us know if you develop stomach pain or nausea.

    • Smoking interferes with bone healing in addition to its other health risks. If you are having trouble quitting, discuss a smoking cessation program with your doctor.

    • Your back incision was closed with buried stitches that will dissolve on their own. You should keep the paper tapes over the wound dry for at least five days, although you may shower with a dressing over the wound. If your original bandage is still on, you may remove it after these five days. The paper tapes will curl up and fall off by themselves.

    • Your back incision was closed with stitches/staples. You can shower if the wound is covered with a waterproof bandage.

    Contact us immediately if:

    • You develop weakness in your legs or loss of bowel or bladder control.
      You notice swelling, redness or pain in your foot or leg. This could indicate a blood clot in the leg, a serious problem that may occur after surgery. Symptoms such as shortness of breath, severe chest pain or coughing up blood could be a sign of a blood clot moving to the lung or another serious medical problem.

    • You develop redness, draining pus or fluid, or sudden swelling around your back incision.

    • The above symptoms are some of the most serious that may arise but do not include all potential post-operative problems. When in doubt, it is better to call and ask.

    Contact information and follow ups

    During business hours you should call your attending physician's office with any questions. For emergencies after business hours call 401-444-5611 and ask for the neurosurgical resident on call.

    Call your attending physician's office after you are discharged from the hospital to arrange for stitch/staple removal and necessary follow up appointments.

    You should also schedule a follow up appointment with your primary care physician. If you do not have a general doctor, you can call the Lifespan Heath Connection at 401-444-4800 for a referral.