What to Expect on Postoperative Day One


The day after spine surgery through discharge will be filled with instructions, exercise and rest. Your nurse will see that you continue to do your breathing and foot-pumping exercises and assist you in managing pain. If your doctor has ordered a brace, you will likely receive it on postoperative day one.

Depending on the type of spine surgery, you may also be discharged on this day.


Physical Therapy

On postoperative day one, a physical therapist (PT) may visit your room to develop goals to restore movement, flexibility and strength. The PT and the nurse will work together to ensure you receive pain medicine before your physical therapy visit.

During your first session, the physical therapist will teach you proper body mechanics and ways to protect your spine. The PT will also show you how to "log roll" to get in and out of bed, if not already demonstrated by your nursing staff.

Next, the PT will put a gait belt around your waist so she/he can help you begin to walk safely. The PT can also assess whether you need a walker for support.

The number of visits from the PT may vary from patient to patient. The PT will determine if you need more than one or two visits. If the PT feels that you would benefit from more physical therapy after you go home, the physical therapist will work with your physician to obtain an order for outpatient PT after your discharge from the hospital.

You will walk at least twice daily with the nursing staff, other floor staff or a PT. The PT also will work with you on stair climbing (if you have stairs at home), putting on and taking off the brace (if a brace is required after your surgery), sleeping positions, sitting and getting in and out of a car.


Occupational Therapy

If you need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), an occupational therapist (OT) will also visit you. Occupational therapy aims to restore your ability to perform self-care tasks, such as getting in and out of a bed or chair, getting dressed, going to the bathroom, taking a shower and preparing meals.

To develop your occupational therapy goals, the therapist will ask many questions about your home environment, assessing possible obstacles to be addressed. Then, the OT will teach you and your family the activities you need to know when you go home using proper body mechanics and spine precautions.


What to Expect During the Remainder of Your Hospital Stay

  • Tell your nurse if you feel constipated or experience nausea or muscle spasms.
  • Continue to assess your pain regularly and ask for pain medication as needed.
  • Continue walking with the clinical partner, nurse, or physical therapist once cleared to walk alone.
  • Continue to eat a healthy diet.
  • You will still easily tire and need rest periods.
  • Continue to use the incentive spirometer.



Your family and friends are a very important part of your recovery period. Our visitation guidelines are designed to allow time for you to visit with family and friends to receive the support you need.

Please contact your facility for visiting hours. We ask that you limit the number of visitors to two at a time. If you have many visitors, please have them wait in the lobby area to see you.

We welcome your spouse or significant other to be with you anytime and encourage them to rest well and eat regularly. One visitor will be allowed to stay overnight with you in your room.

Please remind your family and friends that they may be asked to leave the room during the nursing shift change, assessments and as deemed necessary by the nursing staff.

Source:  Piedmont Spine Surgery Patient Education Guide

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