Before coming home from hospital make sure you’re clear about:
- how to care for your incision
- your level of activity
- driving (don’t forget to also check with your car insurance company in case they have any restrictions following an operation) and clarify this with your surgeon
- symptoms that need medical attention
- any changes to your regular medication
- what kind of exercise you can do
- how to manage pain
- when to have your stitches out, if they’re not self-dissolving.
Caring for your incision
It’s important to keep your bandage over your incision clean and dry with the dressing intact. There may be some discharge from the incision but if the discharge increases or smells unpleasant, you should contact your surgeon.
You may find it more comfortable sleeping on a firm mattress.
You may experience constipation after surgery. This can be due to the side effects of opioid painkillers, a change in your usual diet or a reduction in your usual activity levels.
Returning to work
Follow your surgeon’s advice about how much time to take off work, particularly if your job is physically demanding.
Because you now have metal prostheses in your spine, dental procedures can put you at risk of infection for the first 3 months after your surgery. Try to avoid having dental work done during this time. If you must have work done, you’ll need to tell your dentist that you’ve had disc replacement surgery and ask for an antibiotic to take before the procedure.
You’ll need to make a follow-up appointment to see your surgeon 2 to 6 weeks after your procedure to assess your recovery and address any questions you may have. Your first post-op consultation is covered under the surgical fee.
Watching out for problems
You should call your surgeon if you experience:
- excessive pain around your wound or in your legs or arms
- discharge or excessive bleeding from your incision
- redness or changes in the skin around your incision
- severe bloating of your abdomen with inability to eat or drink plus nausea and vomiting
- any breathing problems from a swollen neck
- pain and swelling in your calf
- unexplained or sudden shortness of breath
- severe headache, nausea or vomiting.