Lumbar Fusion-Post Surgical Information

Kevin Rutz, M.D.; Kyle Conrod, PA-C; Mary Ann Brashwiner, R.N.

Orthopedic Specialists      Phone 314-909-1359

Patient:___________________________________             Date: _____________________


●          You should already have a follow-up appointment made; if not, please call the office at 314-909-1359 and ask to be seen 10-14 days following the date of your surgery. If you cannot remember your follow-up time, call the office and we can look it up for you.

●          Take only short showers initially. Remove your dressing prior to the shower and re-apply a new dressing following the shower.  You may pat dry the incision following the shower.  You can use gauze and tape to cover your wound.  You should not sit in any bathtub, Jacuzzi or swimming pool until after your first post-op visit.  Continue with your dressing until your first post-op visit.

●          The incision is covered by a special skin glue. DO NOT apply any ointments, gels, or creams to the incision.  DO NOT scrub or rub the incision or apply soap or hydrogen peroxide to the incision. The wound does not need to be cleaned and the dressing only needs to be changed if you shower or you get your dressing wet.  Moisture is what dissolves the skin glue so the more it is kept dry the better, but a quick shower is OK. 

●          No lifting greater than 20 pounds for the first 4 to 5 months following your surgery unless otherwise instructed.  You can ride in a car, walk, bend over, and use stairs as your pain allows.  You can sleep in whatever position is most comfortable.  Your physical therapy early on is simply walking a little more every day.  You will not heal faster by trying to push it physically until your fusion is strong enough to take it.  Doing activities greater than those listed above, increase your risk of breaking down your fusion before it has time to heal.  You can walk as much as you want as long as it does not increase your pain.

          Call the office at 314-909-1359 should you develop a temperature greater than 101.5 degrees or if the wound develops redness or drainage.

          Call the office immediately should you experience any of the following: 1. Weakness in your legs; 2. Numbness or tingling in both legs; 3. Bowel or bladder disturbances, such as loss of control or inability to go; 4. Numbness or tingling around your anus or in the area of your genitals; 5. Persisting headaches, especially headaches which are relieved by lying down.

          You have been given a prescription for narcotic pain pills-TAKE THESE ONLY AS DIRECTED.            We do not refill narcotic pain medications after hours or on weekends; so PLEASE call during regular office hours. If you have problems with nausea from your pain meds, try taking them after eating and/or breaking them in half.  If you are having poor pain control because you cannot take your pain pills secondary to problems with nausea, please call the office.

          Narcotic pain medication can cause constipation.  The following medications may be purchased at the pharmacy without a prescription to aid in relief of constipation; 1) you can take Dulcolax Tablets, 1 to 2 tablets one to two times a day.  2) Instead of Dulcolax, you may use Senokot-S at 2 tablets one to two times a day.  If you get diarrhea from these medications, reduce the dose.  3) If the Dulcolax or Senokot-S doesn’t work, take 30 ml. of Milk of Magnesia.  If problems still persist, drink ½ bottle of Magnesium Citrate and if there is still no bowel movement then finish the rest of the bottle after 2 hours.  Lastly, you may use a Fleet Enema.  Call the office if this protocol fails and you do not have a bowel movement within 3 days.

          If you develop abdominal distention, stop passing gas, or start vomiting, please contact the office for further instructions.

          It is common to feel discomfort or numbness in the back or leg that was painful prior to surgery and sometimes it takes time for these symptoms to calm down. The area of the surgery is usually the sorest for the first few days to weeks, and then should slowly improve week to week after that.  It is common to have good and bad days and be sorer for a day or two after a more active day during your recovery.

          DO NOT TAKE any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (arthritis medications) for 6 weeks following the procedure.  Some common anti-inflammatories are as follows; Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Ibuprofen, Celebrex, Naprosyn, Mobic or Relafen. It is important that you avoid these medicines because they can interfere with healing of your fusion.

          DO NOT SMOKE OR USE NICOTINE PRODUCTS after your surgery as they greatly increase your risk of not healing your fusion.  Your post operative pain will last much longer and if you do not heal your fusion you will require more surgery.

          In case of a question or concern after office hours that cannot wait until the office opens, the best way to contact us is to still use the same office number.  This will direct you to our answering service and they will page us.  Do not call the hospital or surgery center for medical questions about your surgery.