After Back Surgery: Your Hospital Recovery
After surgery, you'll be moved to the PACU (post-anesthesia care unit). You'll stay there until you're fully awake. Then you'll be moved to your hospital room. The length of your stay depends on what type of surgery you had and how well you're healing. You'll probably get on your feet within 24 hours after surgery. A nurse or physical therapist will teach you how to brace yourself, turn, and get out of bed safely.
Right After Surgery
When you wake up from surgery, you may feel groggy, thirsty, or cold. Your throat may be sore. For a few days, you may also have:
Tubes to drain the incision.
An IV to give you fluids and medication.
A catheter (tube) to drain your bladder.
Boots or special stockings on your legs to help prevent blood clots.
You will likely have some discomfort after surgery. Your nurse may give you pain medication. Or you may have a PCA (patient controlled analgesia) pump. The pump lets you give yourself small amounts of pain medication. Some pain is normal, even with medication. But if you feel very uncomfortable, tell your nurse. Treating pain before it becomes severe often means that you use less pain medication overall.
Getting Up and Moving
Soon after surgery, you'll be encouraged to get up and walk. This helps keep your blood and bowels moving. It also keeps fluid from building up in your lungs. To help you move, you may be given a brace to support your spine. You may also see a physical therapist. He or she will teach you ways to protect your spine while moving.
Supporting Your Spine
While in the hospital, practice bracing yourself to aid your home recovery.
Abdominal muscles support the spine. Tightening these muscles to "brace" yourself helps prevent pain and reinjury.
Put your hands on the lower part of your stomach. Gently tighten your abdominal muscles by pulling in your stomach. Breathe normally without relaxing your abdomen.
You may be given a brace to keep your back stable. If so, you'll be shown how to wear it.