Placeholder image

Questions After Back Surgery

1. Why am I so sore when I wake up in the morning?

Answer: The most common complaint from patients who have had recent back surgery is stiffness in the morning, probably for a period of two months following the operation. This soreness is alleviated by taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, and/or stretching, and then taking a morning shower. Usually, these steps rapidly alleviate the stiffness.

2. How soon will I be able to start working out following back surgery?

Answer: Almost immediately. We would like patients to start walking the first day they go home and increase their distance to two to three miles a day, hopefully within a week. They may start lifting weights and riding a bicycle in ten days to two weeks following surgery. The weight lifting should only be with light weights and lots of repetitions, staying away from squats and leg thrusts or any activity that would irritate the back.

3. Why am I getting some puffiness at the top of my incision?

Answer. We close these wounds while the patient is in a flexed, bent over position. The sutures (which are all dissolvable) tend to hold the skin up when the patient is in the upright position, causing an accordion-type look to the back. As soon as those sutures dissolve, the back incision will flatten out.

4. How long should I take narcotics following the surgery?

Answer: We suggest that patients go off narcotics within a period of seven to ten days following a routine laminectomy and discectomy. Some patients may need another week or ten days of taking one pill at bedtime just to be able to sleep through the night.

5. Why do I still have a little bit of irritability in my sciatic nerve following the operation?

Answer: Sometimes these nerves become very swollen during the operation and will stay that way for a period of 10 to 21 days after the surgery. This causes a little phantom discomfort down the distribution of the nerve. We ask patients to just wait this out and to ignore it to some degree. Obviously, if the pain is as bad as is was preoperatively, then that is a concern. However, some very mild twinges or discomfort are usually not an issue and will rapidly improve within three weeks.