Lumbar spine surgery post-operative care and instruction

By Dr. Amit Gupta in Spine Surgery , Neurology

Nov 07 , 2020 | 2 min read


The following instructions are recommended after spine surgery to ensure a good recovery.


You may be up and about to take care of your personal needs but avoid any strenuous activity. Do not put yourself in a position where you could fall.

Do not lift more than 3.5 kg. Avoid pushing or pulling activity.

Going up and down stairs is permissible. Be sure to use the handrails and take one step at a time until comfortable. Take precautions to prevent falls and use assistance if unsure.

Avoid bending or twisting at the waist. Bend at your knees (squat) when picking up objects. Avoid sitting for longer than 45 minutes to one hour at a time. Sitting for longer periods of time may add to your discomfort. Take a 10 minute break to get up and move around or lie down before sitting again.


Walking is the best “exercise” after surgery and you need to walk DAILY. Gradually increase the distance you walk and. You should be able to gradually increase your distance until you can walk about one mile within one to two months after surgery. Females avoid high heels for the first month after surgery.

Incision Care

Keep the incision dry for 48 hours after surgery. You do not need to apply any ointment. You do not need to keep the incision covered unless there is discharge from the incision. Contact immediately if discharge persists for more than 2 days or if you have redness or swelling around the incision.

Sutures are removed 10-12 days after surgery.

If you have fevers or chills, take your temperature with a thermometer. If you have a temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or 38.3 degrees Celsius or higher, contact immediately.


You may SHOWER and get the incision wet after 48 hours. Avoid scrubbing your incision site. Do NOT soak the incision; so avoid baths, hot tubs or swimming for 1 month after surgery. It is normal for the incision site to itch, but avoid scratching.


Do not drive for the first two weeks. You may ride in an automobile for short distances as tolerated.

Pain Medication

You will be given a prescription for pain medication when you are discharged from the hospital. You may take the pain medication with a snack or meal if stomach upset occurs.

Sexual Intercourse

Sexual intercourse may be resumed at any time as tolerated. Go slowly and avoid painful positions.


Eat a healthy, well balanced diet and avoid extra calories. You may have a decreased appetite after surgery.


You may be constipated after your surgery, so increase your intake of fiber (fruits and vegetables) and fluid (unless instructed otherwise). You may use your choice of over-the-counter laxatives (such as Looz, Dulcolax, Cremaffin or Milk of Magnesia). If you do not have a bowel movement, use an over- the-counter enema. If you are still unable to have a bowel movement, or have nausea, vomiting or abdominal bloating, contact your family doctor for instructions.


You should not smoke after surgery. Smoking decreases the rate of skin and bone healing. Smoking also interferes with the effectiveness of your pain medication.

Follow-up Visit

You will need a post-operative appointment on 10th day and follow-up at 3 to 4 weeks after surgery. You will also be seen at 3 months after surgery.