Post Surgery 2017-04-10T05:02:05+00:00

Post Surgery

Post operative and home care

Following Surgery


Once the surgery is complete, you will be taken to the recovery area. You may feel some nausea from the anesthesia and discomfort from surgery. The recovery room nurses will provide medications to you for pain and nausea as needed, monitor your vital signs and your progress throughout your recovery period. After your operation and time in recovery, your caregiver will be called in and asked to accompany you as you change into your clothes and receive your postoperative instructions. You will need to see Dr. Maxwell approximately 7-10 days after your surgery for a post-operative evaluation and to take out your sutures (if you had a back surgery).

Post-operative care

HOME HEALTH: Arctic Spine is the only spine care clinic in Alaska to have partnered with Home Health solutions in order to offer you the finest service when recovering from your outpatient surgery. Home Health services provide the full spectrum of home nursing and therapies for three days after your surgery. This involves a skilled nurse who will travel to your home to provide you with unrivalled 1:1 care which an inpatient experience simply cannot offer. Your dedicated nurse will closely monitor your vital signs, pain levels, administer medications, provide a catheter if unable to void, provide a pain pump as necessary, provide a brace if needed, assess your incision, change your dressings daily and administer IV antibiotics as well as encourage light movement and exercise to return you to strength and an increased Range of Motion.

The benefits of same-day outpatient surgery with dedicated home health nursing means that you can enjoy lower costs, superior post-operative support including better pain analgesia and therefore an overall more nurturing and comfortable post-operative experience. Call Arctic Spine on (907) 222-6500 for more information on how you can enjoy same-day spine surgery with home health nursing in the comfort and familiarity of your own home.

DIET: Return to your regular home diet. To reduce the risk of constipation caused by the narcotic pain relievers, drink plenty of fluids and get fiber in your diet. Senna-S, a stool softener/laxative has been prescribed to prevent staining and constipation caused by the narcotic pain relievers. Should you still become constipated, you may use any other over the counter laxative of your choice.

ACTIVITY: Restrict activities and rest in bed for a few days to give your new spine a chance to heal. Practice good posture and avoid prolonged sitting, change your position frequently.  Do not bend or twist at the waist, or raise your hands over your head for 2 week(s) after your surgery. Begin walking. You may also go up and down stairs as much as you can tolerate. Walking outside or walking on a treadmill at a slow speed with no incline is okay. Walk short distances frequently rather than one long walk, increase the distance as you become stronger. Remember as far as you go it is equal distance to return. You may walk up to 1 or 2 blocks 3-4 times a day or further as your strength increases. You may resume sexual relations, but compromises may be needed in positioning to avoid discomfort. Do not participate in sporting activities, bowling, golfing or horseback riding until instructed to do so by Dr. Maxwell.

LIFTING: Limit all lifting and bending for 4 weeks. This includes household or outdoor chores that require lifting or bending such as; vacuuming, lifting laundry, gardening, or shoveling snow. DO NOT LIFT more than a gallon of milk in weight or about 8 pounds.

STOCKINGS: If you have been given support stockings, wear them until you are up walking around well at home, approximately one (1) week. You may remove the stockings for 1 hour every 8 hours for comfort.

PAIN MEDICATION: You will experience pain after surgery in the region of the incision and may continue to have some pain in the extremity you had before surgery, due to inflammation and swelling of the previously compressed or irritated nerves. Pain, spasms, numbness and tingling will diminish over time. It is generally not considered permanent unless it lasts more than six months. As the intensity of your pain diminishes, start taking less of the narcotic pain reliever and begin using over the counter drugs such as plain Tylenol and your home medications. Take your medication exactly as directed. Talk to your Pain Management Physician about pain medication. Do NOT take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. They may delay or prevent proper fusion of bone.


Apply bacitracin ointment to the incision twice daily for 10 days with daily dressing change of Telfa and paper tape. This wound care kit is provided to you by the surgical facility.

ACF surgeries will have absorbable sutures. This means you do not have to have them removed.

All other spine surgeries will have removable nylon sutures. Please ensure you have a post-operative appointment booked approximately 10 -14 days after your surgery date with Dr. Maxwell, who will personally remove your sutures.

• Do not touch, rub or pick your wound area.

• Do not soak your incision in a bathtub, hot tub or swimming pool until it is fully healed and the scab is gone.

• Do not apply any creams or lotions to your incision

• Call Arctic Spine if your incision becomes reddened, swollen, any foul smelling drainage appears, if you have more pain in your incision or if you develop a temperature of 101 degrees.

SHOWERING: You may begin showering as needed from the moment you go home. When showering, remove dressing and apply clear plastic Tegaderm. After showering, remove plastic Tegaderm and reapply bacitracin, Telfa and paper tape dressing.


• A soft cervical collar is advisable to help support your head while keeping your cervical spine aligned. The neck collar or brace is important because it supports and correctly positions your neck after surgery. Be sure to follow instructions for its care, use, and the length of time you must wear it.

• Arrange your household to keep the items you need within reach.

• Remove electrical cords, throw rugs, and anything else that may cause you to fall.

• If you are a diabetic, smoker or are getting a multi-level fusion, we recommend getting fitted with a bone growth stimulator. Our staff can arrange this for you.

• If you smoke, please consider quitting. Smoking slows healing of bone. Enroll in a stop-smoking program to improve your chances of success.


• Book a Post-Operative follow up appointment with Arctic Spine 7-10 days after your surgery. This is when Dr. Maxwell will check your progress and remove your sutures.

When to seek medical attention

Call 911 immediately and/or the Emergency Room of your relevant hospital venue if you have any of the following symptoms:

• Chest pain

• Shortness of breath

• Trouble controlling your bowels or bladder

• Painful calf that is warm to the touch and tender with pressure

• If your incision site changes in odor and/or has a yellow or green discharge.

Call Arctic Spine during business hours if you have any of the following symptoms:

• Drainage, redness, or warmth at the incision

• Fever above 100.4°F or shaking chills

• Weakness, tingling, or any new numbness in your arms or legs

• Worsened pain







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