Going Home From the Hospital
In general, hospital stays are becoming shorter, especially for microsurgical procedures. Even though you may feel somewhat uncomfortable at the time you are released, your physician usually will allow you to go home when:
- Your vital signs are stable
- You can walk on your own
- You can eat without having nausea
- You have resumed normal bladder activity
- Your wound is healing.
Recovering at Home
Once you are at home and you begin to resume your normal activities, follow the guidelines listed below (and contact your physician’s office if you have any questions):
- Exercise: Try to do as much as you can. Daily walking is the best exercise. Set reasonable goals, but gradually increase the distance you walk each day. Check with your physician before starting any exercise program.
- Sitting and standing: Do not sit or stand for long periods of time. If you have muscle spasms in your back or pain in your leg(s), changing positions frequently should help.
- Sleeping: Rest when you feel fatigued, but do not spend all of your time in bed. Please note that waking up with a “stiff” back is not uncommon. For relief, try taking a short walk or a warm shower. If you do not have a firm mattress, invest in one – it is important for proper back support.
- Caring for your Incision: Wash your incision gently and pat it dry. If you see any increased redness, swelling or drainage, notify your physician.
You should gradually reduce the amount of pain medication you take. Begin by increasing the amount of time between pills, and then reduce the number of pills taken each time. A certain amount of discomfort can be expected until the swelling goes down and the nerve sensitivity decreases. Substitute moist heat, gentle exercise and short rest periods for pain medication whenever possible.
The best way to avoid the recurrence of a ruptured disc is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is important that you:
- Eat a well-balanced diet in order to aid proper healing (avoid foods high in calories and fat content)
- Continue to eat a healthy diet in the future to reach and maintain your proper body weight
- Get the proper amount of sleep
- Participate in some form of regular aerobic exercise (such as walking, swimming or riding a bike)
- Take extra care when lifting, bending or twisting
- Take care of other health problems (such as heart disease or diabetes)
A Patient-Centered Approach
This information is provided to help you make an informed decision about your health care. It is an essential part of a patient-centered approach to medicine, called collaboration, in which the health care team (physicians, nurses and technicians), the health care institutions (hospitals, insurance companies, etc.) and the patient’s family all work towards achieving the best possible recovery for the patient.
Why the Patient is at the Center
Experience has shown that patients who are given the opportunity to make decisions about their own health care have less anxiety before their surgery and recover more quickly after their surgery. Recognize that you have a right and a responsibility to participate in the decisions involving your health care.
The human body is an intricate network of interrelated systems. Each system functions on its own but is also influenced by and dependent upon the others. When illness or injury occurs, it disrupts the function of one or more of these systems.
Surgery is a human effort made to correct one system’s malfunction, but it will affect all others. Because of this complex interrelationship, surgical outcomes cannot be predicted. When recovery is possible, it occurs as a combination of the surgeon’s effort, the patient’s faith, and a positive acceptance of the outcome.