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Spine Surgery FAQs

Spine surgery can significantly impact your quality of life by improving spinal weakness, pain and numbness. This set of frequently asked questions will help you prepare for a successful spine surgery at Miami Valley Hospital.

What might make you a candidate for spine surgery?

  • Neck pain that goes into one or both arms
  • Weakness and/or numbness in one or both arms
  • Back pain that goes into one or both legs
  • Weakness and/or numbness in one or both legs
  • Back and/or leg pain that increases while walking

How do you prepare for spine surgery?

  • You need an evaluation by a spine surgeon and a medical evaluation or clearance through our Preadmission Testing department.
  • To prepare for back surgery, you should stop smoking and eat a balance, healthy diet.
  • You may attend one of our free spine classes to learn what to expect before, during and after your surgery.

What are the risks of spine surgery?

Surgery always involves potential risks.  We take pride in our preventative methods to keep you healthy.  You should discuss your surgical risks directly with your surgeon. Some risks can include bleeding, nerve injury, spinal cord injury and infection.

What are the benefits of having spine surgery?

Your quality of life will be improved. Weakness, pain and numbness should be markedly improved.

How do I strengthen my back?

Physical therapy, strengthening exercises, walking, good posture and core strengthening exercises should all help you strengthen your back. Learn more at our Orthopedic Patient Education Center.

What will I likely experience if I don’t have surgery?

Some diseases may progress without surgery as well as your symptoms may worsen.

If I have spine surgery, is it likely that I will need further spine surgery down the road?

The spine cannot be replaced. The goal is to treat the part that is causing the symptoms. Some diseases of the neck and back are progressive and need surgery at some time in the future. The aging process does have an impact on our spines that cannot be reversed.

How long will I be in the hospital?

It depends on the surgical procedures and your overall health. An average hospital stay can be anywhere from one to five days, but your individual needs are always reviewed before discharge is initiated.

How long is recovery from spine surgery?

It depends on the procedure you need to have done. Some procedures require more recovery time than others. Most people can return to the majority of their usual activities approximately six to eight weeks after surgery.

After surgery, how long will my pain last?

Pain depends on the surgical procedure that is done. Surgical site pain improves over time. After the first few days, the most significant pain lessens.

For less complicated procedures, pain is more limited and the primary pain is over in a few days. For more complex procedures, such as multilevel or anterior and posterior or staged procedures, pain improves over time.

After the first 3 to 4 days pain is improving and patients begin feeling much better in 1 to 2 weeks.

Will I have to take pain medication after surgery?

We will use a variety of medications to control your pain. We will use the medicines that are best for your specific pain. We commonly use:

  • Traditional narcotic pain medicines
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Medicines to control nerve pain

Using a combination of medications usually provides the best pain control.

Do I have to wear a brace?

Some people need to wear a brace after spine surgery. Your specific condition will be evaluated by one of our surgeons. The decision to use a brace (or not) will be based on the surgical procedure you have done and your spine condition.

Will I need physical therapy after spine surgery?

Many people benefit from physical therapy after back or neck surgery. We have specifically trained physical and occupational therapists available. Your surgical   team will decide if you will benefit from physical therapy.

What do I do next?