Questions About Your Surgery

What are my restrictions after surgery?

Most patients go home the same day or next day after surgery. For the first 48 hours, you should engage in low-level activity without straining or driving.

When can I shower?

You can start to shower the day after surgery.

When can I get back to normal activity?

You can engage in your activities of daily living the day after surgery. This included taking a shower, getting dressed and minor activity around the household.

When can I drive?

You can start driving 48 hours after surgery unless otherwise specified by your surgeon.

Will I need to do Physical Therapy after surgery?

If your symptoms resolve completely, then you will most likely not need physical therapy. If you have any difficulty such as soreness, weakness or loss of range of motion, then we will recommend physical therapy.

Will I go home or to a rehab facility?

Most people go home after surgery and do not need to go to a rehabilitation facility.

How much pain will I have?

Most patients use pain medication, if at all, for the first few days. Patients should convert to an over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol as soon as possible.

How long will I need pain medication for?

Most patients are off pain medications within a day or so.

Will I have to walk with a Cane or walker after surgery?

You should be walking the day of surgery without any problem.

Does someone need to stay with me after surgery?

Not usually. You should be fine to take care of yourself unless you normally have someone with at all times.

Can I do damage to the hardware?

Very difficult to damage hardware after surgery.

What to Know After Surgery

Do I go home the same day?

  • Most patients that undergo a one-level or two-level surgery will go home the same day of the surgical procedure. If patients live too far away or live alone, sometimes we recommend that they stay overnight in the hospital.


  • Patients that undergo a three-level surgery will stay overnight and go home the next day.

Wound Care

The incision is usually 1 ½ inches long, horizontally placed in a skin fold of the neck off to the left or right. The incision is closed with subcuticular sutures that dissolve and do not need to be removed. We place steri-strips over the incision and then cover with a 2 x 2 in gauze pad and adhesive. You can shower the day after surgery and every day thereafter, but the shower should be quick. You can remove the adhesive and 2 x 2 in gauze pad on Postoperative Day Two. Leave the steri-strips on and your surgeon will remove them when you come to the office for your first visit after surgery.

Pain Medications

  • No History of Pain Medications
    • If you have not taken pain medications in the past, you will be given a small dose of medications that you should take only if you need them. Try to use Tylenol or Motrin when possible. The sooner you stop taking narcotic pain medication, the better you will feel.


  • History of Pain Medications
    • If you have taken pain medications before surgery and on those same medications at surgery, we will work with your pain management physician to make sure we have additional medication with your surgical pain. Once you recover from your surgical pain (2 – 4 weeks), your pain management will taken over by that provider.


Unless you do not feel well, you can begin driving 48 hours after surgery. If your surgeon does not think you should drive, they will tell you before you leave the hospital.


You should discuss with your surgeon prior to surgery. Depending on your occupation, some patients are back to work with days after surgery. If your job requires physical labor, it may be 6 – 12 weeks before you can go back to work.

Bathing & Showers

The day after surgery, you can shower. Try to shower as quickly as possible and do not worry if the dressing is exposed to water. We do recommend baths or hot tubs for the first 4 weeks after surgery.


  • Exercise.
    • You should not exercise any more than walking in the first 4 weeks after surgery. During your postoperative visits, you should discuss your exercise goals with your surgeon.


  • Sex
    • It is safe to start having sex in the days after surgery.

Postoperative Visits with your Surgeon

You will see your surgeon after surgery in 7 days, one month, three months and then one year. You should have X-Rays at each visit.