What to Expect After You Leave the Hospital


When you have been discharged from the hospital by your surgeon, your nurse will give you printed discharge instructions for your recovery at home. Here are a few things to think about when going home:

  • Consider the type of vehicle you are going home in and how you will get in and out of the vehicle.
  • Remember to take home all your belongings from the hospital room, including clothing, cell phones, chargers and personal items.
  • Discharge instructions are also written for you on the Pathway to Healing for your specific surgery.


Activities and Exercise

Remember to practice the proper body mechanics and spine precautions you learned in the hospital.

  • Do not lift greater than five pounds until cleared by your spine surgeon.
  • Minimize bending or twisting your spine if you had lumbar spine surgery.
  • Minimize bending, twisting or rotating your neck if you had neck surgery.
  • Wear your brace as directed by your spine surgeon.

Walking is the only exercise you are allowed to do after your surgery. Do not run, lift weights or play any kind of sport. You must obtain clearance from your spine surgeon before exercising other than walking.

We recommend walking as much as possible to help your recovery. Several short walks each day are better than one long walk. Let comfort be your guide as you increase your walking.



Unless specifically discontinued by your spine surgeon, you resume taking any home medications you took prior to your surgery. You may go home with a prescription for pain or other medications started in the hospital. Take the medicine as prescribed by your surgeon.


Symptoms to report to your spine surgeon

  • Incision changes such as increased redness, swelling, discharge, heat or odor
  • A temperature higher than 101° F
  • Pain unrelieved by pain medication



You will need someone to drive you home from the hospital. You will not be allowed to drive until your spine surgeon approves.



Your spine surgeon will tell you when you can go back to work. Many factors, such as your type of spine surgery, postoperative condition, and the type of work you do, influence this decision.


Follow-up Appointment

Your discharge instructions will also include information regarding postoperative visits with your spine surgeon and when and how to schedule those appointments.

Source:  Piedmont Spine Surgery Patient Education Guide

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