Post-operative instructions for
POST-OPERATIVE INSTRUCTIONS FOR
The surgical procedure you have undergone is called “TRANSFORAMINAL LUMBAR
INTERBODY FUSION.” Your role now is to become an active participant in your
recovery. The following instructions are intended to assist you in beginning your
The first week after surgery, you may be up and walking about the house.
This is a time of healing, so remember not to overdo any activity. Your body needs
adequate rest, so if you feel tired, lie down and rest. Activities around the house, such as
washing dishes, fixing light meals, and your own personal care are fine. Avoid strenuous
activities, such as vacuuming, lifting laundry or grocery bags. Do not lift anything
heavier than 1 gallon of milk (or about 5-8 pounds). After the first week, you may
gradually increase your activities, but still avoid heavy lifting, pushing/pulling. Walking
is the best way to rebuild strength and stamina. Start SLOWLY and gradually increase
the distance a little every week. Walk at a pace that avoids fatigue or severe pain. Do not
try to walk several blocks the first day! As you increase the distance, you may feel tired.
If so, stop and rest. You should be able to walk several blocks by your first clinic visit.
BATHING and INCISION CARE-
The incision may be tender to touch or feel numb-
this is normal. Keep the incision clean and dry. You may shower, but be sure to dry the
area thoroughly after your shower. The incision will be closed with steri-strips (small
strips of tape) on the skin or staples. The steri-strips should fall off on their own in about
7-10 days. If they have not come off in 10 days, you can soften them with a warm moist
wash cloth and gently pull them off. If you have staples on the wound, you will need to
return to the office in 10-14 days for staple removal. Do not apply any lotions, ointments
or oils on the incision. If you notice any swelling, redness, drainage or heat around the
incision, notify the office immediately.
You should not drive for about 3- 4 weeks after surgery. You can be a
passenger in the vehicle for short distances, but if you travel any long distance, please
stop about every 30 minutes and walk/stretch. You should NEVER
drive while taking
RETURN TO WORK-
The decision to return to work will be determined on an
individual basis. Many people who have a strenuous job (construction, heavy labor, etc)
may need to be off work for up to 12 weeks. If you need a work release, please let us
know as soon as possible, and not the same day you are planning to return to work.
Good nutrition is an essential part of healing. You should eat a balanced
diet each day, including fruits, vegetables, dairy products and protein. Remember to drink
plenty of water. If you have not had a bowel movement within 3 days of surgery, you will
You may resume the medications you were taking before surgery,
with the general exception of the non-steriodal anti-inflammatory medications, such as
Motrin, Aleve, Advil Naprosyn, Ibuprofen or aspirin. You will receive a prescription for
pain medication at discharge from the hospital. The pain medication works best if taken
before the pain becomes severe. To reduce stomach upset, always take the medication
with food. Begin to wean yourself off the pain medication during the second week after
discharge. If you need a refill, please call the office during working hours at least 2 days
before your prescription runs out. Do not wait until your bottle is empty to call for a
refill. DO NOT drive if you are taking narcotic pain medications.
CALL THE OFFICE:
• If you have severe pain unrelieved by the medications, new numbness or tingling
• If you have a fever 100.4 or greater. • If you notice swelling, redness, heat or drainage from the incision or IV site.
The office number is 573-875-9152 from 8:00am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday. If
you need to contact someone for urgent issues after 5:00pm, on weekends, or holidays,
please call the hospital operator at 573-875-9000 and ask for either Diane Mueller or the
It has been our pleasure to assist you in your recovery.
Dr. D Mueller, RN, Department of Orthopaedics, University Health Care, 2006
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