We know it can be a bit overwhelming to think about spine surgery, so here are some answers to some of the common questions we hear from patients who are considering this procedure.

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1. Will surgery help with my pain?

When considering surgery for pain relief, it's important to have realistic expectations. While surgery is recommended with the aim of providing relief from severe pain, it is important to note that it may not completely eliminate all discomfort. However, the primary goal of surgery is to reduce the intensity of your symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.

Your doctor or specialist will carefully evaluate your condition and recommend surgery if they believe it is likely to provide meaningful pain relief. They will discuss the anticipated benefits of the surgery, taking into account factors such as the underlying cause of your pain, the success rates of the procedure, and the experiences of other patients.

It's important to have open and honest discussions with your doctor or specialist about your pain management expectations. They can provide you with a realistic assessment of how surgery may help alleviate your pain and provide guidance on complementary measures such as medication, physical therapy, or lifestyle modifications that can further support your pain management efforts.

Ultimately, the decision to proceed with surgery should be based on a comprehensive understanding of the potential benefits and risks involved. Your healthcare provider will be there to guide you through the decision-making process, address your concerns, and ensure that your treatment plan aligns with your individual needs and goals.

2. What do I need to bring to hospital and when will I be advised of admission time and fasting requirements?

When preparing for your hospital admission, it's important to gather necessary items and follow any specific instructions provided to you.

To ensure a smooth hospital experience, we recommend bringing any special medical aids or devices that you may require during your stay. For example, if you use a CPAP machine for sleep apnea, please remember to bring it with you. Additionally, pack comfortable clothing and slip-on, non-slip footwear to enhance your comfort during your stay.

Regarding fasting requirements, the friendly team at your selected Healthscope hospital will provide you with detailed instructions. They will inform you of the specific fasting guidelines you need to follow before your scheduled procedure. These guidelines typically involve refraining from eating or drinking for a certain period of time prior to your admission.

You can expect to receive information about your admission time and fasting requirements directly from the hospital staff. They will communicate with you in advance, ensuring you have all the necessary details well in advance of your scheduled admission.

If you have any questions or concerns about what to bring or the fasting requirements, don't hesitate to reach out to the hospital staff. They are there to provide support, clarify any uncertainties, and ensure that you have a comfortable and well-prepared experience.

3. When can I get out of bed after surgery?

After your surgery, the healthcare team, including physiotherapists and nursing staff, will provide guidance and support to help you get out of bed and start moving as soon as possible. Typically, you can expect to be assisted in getting up and moving around on the evening of your surgery or the following day.

The physiotherapist and nursing staff will be there to assist you in a safe and controlled manner, ensuring that you can walk independently and comfortably. They will provide guidance on proper techniques, assistive devices if needed, and monitor your progress during your initial movements.

Getting out of bed and starting to move is an important part of your recovery process. It helps prevent complications such as blood clots, promotes circulation, and assists in regaining strength and mobility.

Please keep in mind that the specific timing and extent of mobilisation may vary based on the type of surgery, your individual condition, and the healthcare team's assessment. They will provide you with personalised instructions and support to ensure a smooth and safe recovery.

If you have any concerns or questions about your post-operative mobility, don't hesitate to discuss them with your surgeon. They are there to guide you through the recovery process and help you regain your independence as soon as possible.

4. Will I need rehab after surgery?

In the majority of cases, inpatient rehabilitation is not required following surgery. However, if you require assistance with your mobility and ensuring a safe transition back home, your doctor and the hospital staff will work with you to develop a plan.

During your hospital stay, your surgeon will evaluate your condition and assess your ability to manage daily activities independently. If they determine that additional support or therapy is necessary for your safe return home, they will work with you to establish the most suitable plan.

This may involve arranging for home-based therapy sessions or recommending outpatient rehabilitation services. These options can help you regain strength, improve mobility, and facilitate a smooth transition back to your regular activities.

The decision to pursue rehabilitation will depend on various factors, including the type of surgery, your overall health, and your specific needs. Your surgeon will provide guidance and recommendations based on your individual circumstances.

5. Will I need physiotherapy?

Yes, physiotherapy is an important part of the recovery process after surgery. A physiotherapist will be available to assist you during your hospital stay, guiding and supporting you in regaining your mobility and independence.

The physiotherapist will work closely with you to develop a personalised plan that addresses your specific needs and goals. They will help you perform exercises and activities that promote healing, improve strength, restore range of motion, and enhance overall physical function.

Initially, the focus will be on assisting you in getting back on your feet and helping you walk safely and independently. The physiotherapist will provide instructions on proper techniques, assistive devices if necessary, and monitor your progress.

In addition to in-hospital physiotherapy, our surgeons also recommend a long-term exercise plan to optimise your recovery beyond the hospital setting. This plan will be discussed during your postoperative appointment with the surgeon.

The long-term exercise plan is designed to help you make the most out of your recovery journey. It will include exercises and activities tailored to your specific needs and may involve continued physiotherapy sessions, home-based exercises, and gradually increasing physical activities to regain strength, flexibility, and function.

The physiotherapy and exercise plan are vital components of your recovery process, aimed at promoting healing, maximizing your functional abilities, and enhancing your overall well-being. It is important to follow the guidance of the physiotherapist and stay committed to the exercise plan to achieve the best possible outcomes.

6. How do I know when I can go home?

Knowing when you can go home after surgery is an important consideration for your safe and comfortable recovery. Here are some key indicators that suggest you may be ready for discharge:

Eating and drinking: You should be able to consume food and fluids without experiencing nausea or vomiting. This indicates that your digestive system is functioning normally, and you're able to maintain proper nutrition and hydration.

Bowel movements: Regular bowel movements are a positive sign of normal gastrointestinal function. Your healthcare team will assess this aspect to ensure that your digestive system is functioning properly before you can be discharged.

Medication management: You should be able to take your prescribed medications, including pain management medications, as instructed. This demonstrates your ability to manage your pain and follow the medication regimen required for your recovery.

Mobility and safety: You should be able to move around safely and perform basic activities such as walking and going up and down stairs. The guidance and assistance of a physiotherapist will help ensure that you can navigate these movements safely and independently.

It's important to note that the decision to discharge you from the hospital ultimately rests with your surgeon. They will evaluate your progress, assess your overall condition, and consider factors such as pain management, wound healing, and any specific post-operative instructions.

Your surgeon will communicate with you and keep you informed about your progress and the potential timeline for discharge. They will provide clear instructions and guidelines to follow after you leave the hospital to support your ongoing recovery at home.

7. Will I go home with pain relief medication?

Yes, it is common for patients to be prescribed pain relief medication upon discharge from the hospital. Your surgeon will assess your pain management needs and prescribe medication to help alleviate any discomfort or pain you may experience during your recovery at home.

It's important to follow the instructions provided by your healthcare team regarding the dosage and frequency of taking the pain relief medication. If you have any questions or concerns about the medication or its potential side effects, don't hesitate to ask your healthcare provider for clarification.

Additionally, as you continue your recovery at home, you may need to obtain repeat prescriptions for your pain relief medication. Your healthcare team will advise you on how to arrange this. Typically, you would consult with your general practitioner (GP) to receive the necessary prescriptions and ensure that you have an adequate supply of pain relief medication for the appropriate duration.

Remember to communicate any changes in your pain levels or concerns about medication effectiveness to your healthcare team during follow-up appointments or as instructed. They can assess your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your pain management plan.

If you have further questions about pain relief medication or any other aspect of your post-operative care, don't hesitate to discuss them with your surgeon. They are there to provide guidance, address your concerns, and ensure that your recovery is as comfortable as possible.

8. Will I need any medical equipment when I go home?

Typically, when you're discharged and ready to go home, you won't require any special medical equipment. However, it's important to consider your individual circumstances and any pre-existing mobility challenges you may have had before your surgery.

If you had difficulty with mobility or specific needs prior to your surgery, it's advisable to discuss this with your surgeon before you leave the hospital. They can provide guidance on any equipment or aids that may be beneficial for your safe and comfortable recovery at home.

9. What is the recommended care for my wound after surgery?

Proper wound care is crucial for a successful recovery after surgery. Here are some general recommendations for caring for your wound:

Follow hospital instructions: While you're in the hospital, you'll receive specific instructions on how to care for your wound. Pay close attention to these instructions and follow them carefully. They may include guidelines on dressing changes, keeping the wound clean and dry, and any specific precautions or restrictions.

Keep the dressing dry and secure: It's important to keep the dressing covering your wound dry and securely in place. Avoid getting it wet unless otherwise instructed by your healthcare team.

Follow wound cleaning guidelines: Your surgeon will provide instructions on how to clean the wound, if necessary. It's essential to follow the recommended cleaning technique and frequency to prevent infection and promote healing.

Watch for signs of infection: Monitor your wound for any signs of infection, such as increasing redness, swelling, warmth, pain or discharge. Additionally, watch for general signs of infection like fever or chills. If you notice any of these symptoms, it's important to contact your doctor promptly, as they may indicate an infection that requires medical attention.

Avoid excessive physical activity: During the initial healing phase, it's important to avoid strenuous activities or movements that could disrupt the wound or delay healing. Follow your doctor's instructions regarding limitations on physical activity, lifting heavy objects, or engaging in activities that may strain the surgical site.

Attend follow-up appointments: Make sure to attend scheduled follow-up appointments with your doctor. During these visits, your surgeon will assess the progress of your wound healing and address any concerns or questions you may have.

Remember, the specific wound care instructions may vary depending on the type of surgery, the location of the incision, and your individual circumstances. It's essential to follow the guidance provided by your healthcare team to ensure proper healing and reduce the risk of complications.

10. When can I return to work?

The timing of your return to work after surgery can vary depending on multiple factors, including the type of surgery you undergo, the specific requirements of your job, and your individual healing process. While it's important to consult with your surgeon for personalised advice, here are some general guidelines:

Consideration of healing time: Your body needs time to heal and recover after surgery. During this time, your body is repairing tissues and restoring strength. It's crucial not to rush the healing process and allow your body adequate time to recover.

Job demands and physical activity: The nature of your job plays a significant role in determining when you can return to work. Jobs that involve physically demanding tasks or heavy lifting may require a more extended recovery period before you can safely resume work. On the other hand, if your job is primarily sedentary or less physically demanding, you may be able to return earlier.

Individual recovery and follow-up appointments: Your surgeon will closely monitor your progress during follow-up appointments. They will assess your healing and provide guidance on when it is appropriate for you to return to work. These recommendations will be based on your specific surgery, your overall health, and your individual recovery trajectory.

It's important to have an open and honest discussion with your surgeon about your job requirements and any concerns you may have regarding your return to work. They can provide you with more specific guidance tailored to your situation and help you make an informed decision.

Additionally, it's essential to listen to your body and pay attention to any physical limitations or discomfort as you gradually transition back to work. If you experience persistent pain, excessive fatigue, or any other concerning symptoms, it's important to communicate this to your surgeon and follow their advice.

Ultimately, the decision regarding your return to work should be made collaboratively between you, your surgeon, and possibly other healthcare professionals involved in your care. By following their guidance and allowing yourself sufficient time for recovery, you can increase the likelihood of a successful return to work without compromising your health and well-being.


Information provided and reviewed by Dr Justin Pik, Neurosurgeon at National Capital Private Hospital.

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