Your inpatient stay for spinal surgery
Anyone having a General Anaesthetic will need to be assessed prior to surgery by The Care Management Team. Our Admissions Department will advise you of the details of this appointment, which will happen a few days before your surgery date. Also at this visit you will see the inpatient physiotherapists so please allow about 1 ½ hours in total for this.
You will be advised of your fasting instructions by letter sent in the Pack by the admission team. Typically you must not eat for 6 hours before your general anaesthetic and no fluids for 4 hours. You will meet with your Consultant Anaesthetist when you are admitted and also see your Consultant before going to theatre.
After your operation your wound will be covered by a dressing. Occasionally some patients require a urinary catheter (a tube to drain urine from your bladder into a bag by your bedside). This is because some people have difficulty passing urine in the first few days after a spinal operation, and this would be removed before discharge. Alternatively the Nurses will help you with a commode or toilet.
You will not need to spend a lot time in bed. The amount of rest you need depends on the exact operation that you have. We encourage patients to mobilise quite soon after their procedure. You will be seen by our Inpatient Physiotherapists and given advice regarding your mobility and we wouldn’t discharge you unless we are confident that you can manage at home. Your Consultant will see you over this period to advise on your recovery also.
The average length of stay following Back Surgery is 1-2 days. However this will depend on factors such as the type of procedure, your age and general fitness.
Should your Consultant feel that you are not well enough to be discharged – we will contact your Insurer to advise them of this. For Self funding patients this will be covered under your Inclusive Care agreement, further details of this are on the Spire website.
Going home following surgery
A discharge summary will be sent to your GP to keep them informed and you will be given some pain medication to take home with you also. You will not be able to drive yourself home. Depending on what you have had done, you will be are reviewed by our Outpatient physiotherapists after 3 weeks and then by your Consultant at 6 weeks after your operation.
Post-operative Back Care
Generally a long period of bed rest isn’t necessary after spinal surgery. It is important to gradually return to normal everyday activities.
You will feel sore and stiff for a few days but changing your position and keeping mobile will help. If you have had lumbar spine surgery you will be encouraged not to sit for longer than 15 minutes at a time four times a day in the first 2 weeks and to build up gradually. Walking is good exercise after any spinal surgery and should be gradually increased.
Little and often is good advice!
Try not to lift heavy objects in the first 6 weeks to allow your back to heal. Keep your activities at waist height so that you don’t bend or twist your back.
For Cervical Surgery patients whilst there are No sitting limitations you should sit well supported in chair with lumbar support and No heavy lifting . Our Physio will have discussed sleeping positions/pillows whilst here as inpatient
With any spinal surgery, you will be advised not to drive for 2/ 3 weeks.
Returning to work
Your Consultant will advise you at your 6 week appointment, and this advice will vary depending on what type of job you do and your recovery so far.
For example an office worker will be advised to leave their desk periodically and walk about. For others, sitting in a car for a long commute to work may be problematic. Some patients may need to arrange a phased return to work. Perhaps just a few hours a day for the first few weeks and then a gradually building up by 12 weeks post op to full time again.
You will be encouraged by your physiotherapist and Consultant to think about long term back care. For most patients keeping active by walking, cycling, swimming, Good posture and maintaining an optimum weight avoids further problems.
Some patients may benefit from attending The Spire Livingston or The Spire Shawfair Park Hospital Intensive Physiotherapy Course. This Active Spine Care programme is designed to improve flexibility, strengthen your Core Stability and help prevent any recurrences of back pain.
Further details can be found on the Spire Healthcare Physiotherapy page.
Many patients also benefit for Back strengthen exercises such as Pilates. There are now many centres offering this in Edinburgh including Spire Murrayfield Hospital.
Everyone’s spinal surgery is slightly different and individual circumstances vary so it is best to speak to your consultant who will be able to explain exactly what is best for you.