Dr. Chabot – Lumbar Fusion-Post Surgical Information

General Information

1)  Avoid bending and twisting.  Avoid lifting from floor to waist.  Limit lifting at waist level.

2)  Take pain medicine(s) as prescribed and as needed, being careful not to exceed the daily maximum dose.  Generally speaking it is better to take smaller amounts more frequently (i.e.: one pill every 4 hours), than trying to “wait it out” (i.e.: needing to take two pills because you tried to wait until 6 hours between doses).  Call the office if your pain is not responding to the medication.

3)  You may apply cold packs to the surgical site(s) if this helps your discomfort (on for 15 minutes/off for 30 minutes).

4)  Constipation is a common post-operative issue.  Drink lots of fluids, get up and walk, use stool softeners (Colace) while on narcotic pain medicine.  Everyone’s frequency of bowel movements is different.  So, if you feel you “need to go”, take a laxative of your choice (Dulcolax, Senokot, M.O.M.).  You may also try a suppository or enema.  If these do not work, you may try Fleets phospho-soda or Magnesium Citrate.  All of the above-mentioned meds are available over-the-counter.  If you are still unable to have a bowel movement with these measures, call the office.

5)  Do not smoke, chew or use any nicotine-containing product after surgery as it increases your risk of not healing properly (this was discussed in your pre-op consultation in more detail).

6)  Do not take any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for three months after surgery (ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, nabumetone, etc.).


1)  No lifting greater than 10-20 lbs. 

2)  Frequent, short walks are encouraged.  Alternate with rest.  Advance to longer periods of exercise as your endurance builds.  Use of a treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike is acceptable. 

3)  No driving for 5-7 days and/or while on pain meds.

4)  Sleep in any position that is comfortable to you as long as your spine is “in alignment”.  Use pillows/wedges/body pillows as needed to get comfortable.

5)  You may climb stairs into/within your home, as needed.  But, for your convenience, try to arrange for all necessities to be on one level (sleeping/eating/bathroom), even if for just the first few days.

6)  If sent home with an incentive spirometer, use once per hour while awake.

Wound Care

1)  Change the dressing daily.  When you remove the gauze, you will see staples.  You do not need to do any special “treatment” to the staples/incision.  No ointments/salves/etc.  Antibacterial soap and water maybe used over the area (see #2).  Simply replace the old dressing with clean, dry gauze.

2)  You may sponge bathe or even shower.  No tub bath, Jacuzzi or pool.  Again, soap and water can run over the surgical site, but do not soak it.  Pat the area dry and apply the clean, dry dressing.

3)  Small amounts of drainage (ranging from bloody to straw-colored) can occur, typically not exceeding the size of a silver dollar.  The incision may be slightly pink and/or warm to touch which is not unusual.  But, if you notice an increased amount of drainage,   increased redness, heat, swelling, tenderness, pain around the wound, a fever of greater than 101.5˚, a sudden opening of the incision or any drainage that is cloudy-yellow or greenish in color, CALL THE OFFICE immediately.

Follow up

You should schedule a post-operative appointment to see Dr. Chabot in our office 10-14 days following surgery.

Questions: If you have any other questions or concerns, please call our office at (314) 909-1359.