Spinal Program | Roadmap to Recovery

LIke ThisLIke ThisLIke ThisLIke ThisLIke This

Contact the Spinal Program

  • 617-355-6021
  • International: +1-617-355-5209
  • Locations

This schedule outlines the tasks you will have to do after spinal surgery. Remember that every surgery and every patient’s road to getting better are different. Before you go home, you should be able to do things like get in and out of bed, sit in a chair, use the bathroom, walk on your own, and have small amounts of food and liquids. You will control your pain with oral medication.

Learn more about pain control, nutrition and diet, activity and physical therapy and nursing, medications, IVs and discharge planning.

Pain Control

Day of Surgery

  • Control your pain by using patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) with continuous IV narcotic
  • Take Gabapentin three times a day for pain
  • Take Acetaminophen every four to six hours
  • Take Valium as needed for muscle spasms
  • Use ice packs and/or try to move yourself into a more comfortable position

One Day After Surgery

  • Stop patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) and begin use of oral pain medication
  • Take Gabapentin three times a day for pain
  • Take Acetaminophen every four to six hours
  • Take Valium as needed for muscle spasms
  • Use intravenous therapy (IV) morphine for “breakthrough” pain (pain that may happen even though you are on pain medicine)
  • If you are peeing enough, start taking Toradol (a medicine that reduces swelling and pain in the body) through your IV
  • Use ice packs and/or try to move yourself into a more comfortable position

Two Days After Surgery

  • Take Gabapentin two times a day for pain
  • Take Acetaminophen every four to six hours
    • Take Valium as needed for muscle spasms
  • If you are feeling really sleepy or like you are going to throw up, talk with your doctor about changing the dose of your medicines
  • Use ice packs and/or try to move yourself into a more comfortable position

Three Days After Surgery

  • Stop taking Gabapentin
  • Stop taking Toradol IV
  • Start taking Ibuprofen as told by doctor
    • If you are feeling really sleepy or like you are going to throw up, talk with your doctor about changing the dose of your medicines
  • Use ice packs and/or try to move yourself into a more comfortable position
  • Make sure you have prescriptions for pain medications

Nutrition & Diet

Day of Surgery

Nutrition

  • At night, suck on ice chips or take sips of clear liquids
  • Take laxatives/stool softeners when drinking fluids

One Day After Surgery

  • Drink clear liquids, such as plain water, apple juice or clear Pedialyte
  • Eat small amounts of solid food and chew sugarless gum (if you feel up to it)
  • Continue to use stool softeners/laxatives

Two Days After Surgery

  • Go back to eating your regular diet if you can
  • Increase the amount of fluids you drink
  • Chew sugarless gum
  • Continue to use stool softeners/laxatives

Three Days After Surgery

  • Go back to eating your regular diet if you can
  • Before leaving the hospital, you should be able to drink and eat a fair amount
  • Chew sugarless gum
  • Continue use of stool softeners/laxatives
  • Make sure that you have the home prescription for you stool softeners
  • You do not have to have a bowl movement (poop) before going home

Activity & Physical Therapy (PT)

Day of SurgeryActivity/Physical Therapy (PT)

  • Log roll (turn in bed) every two hours
  • Take deep breaths and cough every two hours when you are awake
  • Use the incentive spirometer or pinwheel

One Day After Surgery

  • Get out of bed and walk to chair two times a day
  • Walk in your room and in the hall two times a day
  • Take deep breaths and cough every two hours when awake
  • Do physical therapy evaluation and session

Two Days After Surgery

  • Get out of bed and walk to chair three times a day
  • Walk in the hall three times a day
  • Take deep breaths and cough every two hours when awake
  • Do physical therapy session
  • Take a shower when your drains are removed

Three Days After Surgery

  • Get out of bed and walk to chair three times a day
  • Walk in the hall three times a day
  • Take deep breaths and cough every two hours when awake
  • Do physical therapy session (if needed)

Nursing, Medications, IVs, Discharge Planning

Day of Surgery Stethescope

  • Nurse monitors your breathing, heart rate and oxygen levels frequently
  • Nurse takes your vital signs (pulse, heart rate, temperature) frequently
  • Nurse does neurovascular checks (color, sensation, movement) frequently
  • Nurse gives you oxygen, if needed
  • Nurse gives you intravenous therapy (IV) fluids
  • Wear compression boots in bed until you are walking three times a day
  • Use urinary catheter

One Day After Surgery

  • Nurse monitors your breathing, heart rate and oxygen levels until your condition improves
  • Stop intravenous therapy (IV) fluids when you can take oral fluids
  • Keep IV in place
  • Nurse removes urinary catheter at 6 a.m.
  • Doctor removes any surgical drains when they are no longer needed
  • Take blood test if needed
  • Finalize discharge planning (plan to go home)
  • Take x-rays the evening before you home

Two Days After Surgery

  • Nurse monitors your breathing, heart rate and oxygen levels until your condition improves
  • Stop intravenous therapy (IV) fluids when you can take oral fluids
  • Keep IV in place
  • Nurse removes urinary catheter at 6 a.m.
  • Doctor removes any surgical drains when they are no longer needed
  • Take blood test if needed
  • Finalize discharge planning (plan to go home)
  • Take x-rays the evening before you home

Three Days After Surgery

  • Change dressing (if needed)
  • Doctor takes off surgical drains if they have not already been removed
  • Do x-rays before going home (if not already done)
  • Review home care instructions (pain and constipation management, dressing care)
  • Review home medication summary sheet
  • Make sure that your follow-up appointment is scheduled with the Orthopedic Clinic
  • A health care provider contacts you 24 hours before you go home
  • Go home!
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

Close