Posterior Lumbar Decompression, Microlaminectomy or Microdiscectomy Recovery | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky.

Posterior Lumbar Decompression, Microlaminectomy or Microdiscectomy Recovery

What to Expect

You’ve had spine surgery, a step toward the goals of decreasing back and leg pain, improving the ability to stand and walk, and stopping symptoms of nerve compression from getting worse. Now it’s time to focus on healing. By following these tips, you will set yourself up for a successful outcome after surgery.

Top Things to Know

  • A moderate or increased amount of back pain is expected after surgery. This will get better over the next four to six weeks.
  • Leg pain usually gets better after surgery, but may not be completely gone. Numbness, tingling and weakness take longer to get better after surgery. This is normal.

Pain and Weakness

  • Back pain and muscle spasms are normal after surgery. These should get better over the next few weeks.
  • Numbness, tingling and weakness that you had before surgery may take time to improve.

Taking Care of Your Incision

  • Your incision may bleed, and your dressing may get saturated with blood. This is normal. Change your dressing as often as needed to keep the incision clean and dry.
  • If your incision has no bleeding or drainage, you can take your dressing off one to two days after surgery, but always keep the incision area clean and dry.
  • If you have skin glue or tape on your incision, try to leave it in place for the first two weeks.

Showering

  • You can take a shower three days after surgery, once the incision is closed and doesn’t have drainage. Let gentle soap and water run over the incision. Do not scrub it. Pat dry with a clean towel.
  • Avoid taking tub baths, swimming and going in hot tubs until the incision is completely healed (four to six weeks).

Taking Medication

  • You may take anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) to help relieve pain. NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), meloxicam (Mobic), Celebrex and diclofenac. If you have kidney or heart disease, stomach ulcers or you take blood thinners, check with your primary care provider before taking NSAIDs.
  • If you need refills on your prescriptions, you may make a request through your MyNortonChart account or contact our office at least two days before you are out of pills so we have sufficient time to process your request. Refill requests on Friday afternoons and holidays likely will be addressed on the next business day.
  • Start weaning yourself from pain medications as soon as you are able. Remember, pain is a natural part of the healing process. The goal is not to eliminate all pain but to keep you comfortable as you heal. Pain medications should be used only for a short period of time.
  • Before taking Tylenol (acetaminophen), be aware that your pain medication probably has acetaminophen in it. Taking additional Tylenol or acetaminophen can put you over the daily recommended 3,000 milligrams, which can harm your liver.
  • If you are taking a muscle relaxer, one of the side effects is drowsiness. If you feel too drowsy to safely get up and move around, take the muscle relaxer less often.

Be Active, but No Lifting

  • We want you to be active as soon as you get home from the hospital. Get up and walk often.
  • If you go up and down stairs, make sure you hold onto the railing and have someone with you.
  • Avoid excessive bending and twisting your neck, and do not lift anything over 10 pounds until your surgeon says it’s OK.

And No Driving

  • You cannot drive until you are no longer taking narcotic pain medications or muscle relaxers and you can move well enough to be safe behind the wheel.
  • Most patients can begin driving after the first postoperative appointment. Your surgeon will let you know when you can start driving.

Eating

  • Ice and Popsicles can help relieve a sore throat.
  • Eat soft foods that are easy to swallow. Take small bites and chew your food well. You can begin eating other foods gradually as you start to feel better.

Constipation and Bloating

  • Constipation is a common side effect of taking narcotic pain medication and a good reason to begin tapering yourself off of pain medication as soon as you can.
  • Drink lots of fluids, be active and eat foods high in fiber to help relieve constipation.
  • If constipation is bothering you, a stool softener or laxative may help. Try one of the following, and always follow the instructions: Milk of Magnesia, MiraLAX, Dulcolax suppository, Fleet enema, magnesium citrate.

Follow Up With Your Primary Care Provider

  • If you have any health concerns, see your primary care provider within one week after surgery, especially if you have any of the following:
    • Heart disease or have had a stroke
    • Lung disease
    • Diabetes
    • Are over age 65
    • Take a blood thinner
    • Take more than 10 prescription medications

When Is It an Emergency?

  • If you have any of the following symptoms, call 911 or go to an emergency room right away:
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Significant new weakness since your surgery

If you have any other concerns, call our office at (502) 584-7525. In most cases we can help you or get you an appointment quickly.

Making It Easy to Get Back to Your Life

  • With six Norton Leatherman Spine locations in Louisville and Southern Indiana, we have specialists near you.
  • We use minimally invasive procedures that can reduce recovery time and the risk of complications.
  • Sophisticated pain management aims to keep you comfortable and safe.
  • Communicate with your provider, manage appointments, refill prescriptions and more anytime from a computer or mobile device with a free MyNortonChart account.

About Norton Leatherman Spine

Norton Leatherman Spine in Louisville and Southern Indiana offers world-class care from surgeons who are recognized nationally and internationally for their innovation, expertise and skill. Norton Leatherman Spine is one of the premier research and education programs in the United States for spinal surgeons.

Our rich history traces back to Kenton D. Leatherman, M.D., who more than 50 years ago became the first orthopedic surgeon in Kentucky to specialize in spine care. A University of Louisville School of Medicine graduate, he developed leading-edge approaches to treating scoliosis after World War II.

  • The board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists at Norton Leatherman Spine are among the most experienced in the country, treating conditions like yours for an average of 20 years.
  • We have orthopedic spine surgeons providing care from our offices in downtown and suburban Louisville and in surrounding counties.
  • Our physicians pinpoint your diagnosis to come up with the right treatment plan, including surgical and nonsurgical options as appropriate.
  • We offer minimally invasive and robotic-assisted procedures that carry less risk and can speed your recovery. Norton Leatherman Spine surgeons are actively involved in the development of next-generation minimally invasive technologies.
  • The physicians at Norton Leatherman Spine are leaders in their field and train the next generation of specialists. More than 100 of the leading spine surgeons practicing throughout the U.S. today were trained at Norton Leatherman Spine.
  • Techniques developed at Norton Leatherman Spine have produced better outcomes for patients, with fewer side effects, and are routinely performed around the world today.
  • Our team performs more than 4,000 surgeries a year, and patients come to our providers more than 30,000 times a year.
Leatherman – 7525

Telehealth and ‘virtual hospital’ allow some spine surgery patients to go home sooner

A combination of telehealth and remote monitoring is allowing some patients to go home sooner after significant spinal surgery, according to the medical director of Norton Leatherman Spine. Norton Telehealth and ‘virtual hospital’ innovations accelerated […]

Read Full Story

Norton Leatherman Spine surgeon pioneers minimally invasive lumbar fusion

Jeffrey L. Gum, M.D., spine surgeon with Norton Leatherman Spine, has pioneered a new, minimally invasive, robotic-assisted surgery that shortens operations and cuts down on recovery time. His work has attracted attention around the world. […]

Read Full Story

Trouble getting around? Don’t confuse cervical myelopathy symptoms with aging

74-year-old Rodger First started having trouble getting around, he assumed it was just a part of getting older. For months, he struggled on uneven surfaces. “I remember falling three or four times one day,” Rodger […]

Read Full Story

Norton Healthcare and LHC Group Inc. partner to provide quality home recovery programs

Everyone knows there’s no place like home. That’s especially true when recovering from illness or injury. Norton Healthcare and LHC Group Inc. announced recently the formation of a joint venture partnership – creating Norton Home […]

Read Full Story

The Schroth method: Noninvasive treatment for scoliosis gaining popularity in the US

Scoliosis affects about 7 million people in the U.S. People with scoliosis have an abnormal curve in their spine, which can vary in severity. For those who need treatment, options range from physical therapy, such […]

Read Full Story
Related Stories

Telehealth and ‘virtual hospital’ allow some spine surgery patients to go home sooner

A combination of telehealth and remote monitoring is allowing some patients to go home sooner after significant spinal surgery, according to the medical director of Norton Leatherman Spine. Norton Telehealth and ‘virtual hospital’ innovations accelerated […]

Read Full Story

Norton Leatherman Spine surgeon pioneers minimally invasive lumbar fusion

Jeffrey L. Gum, M.D., spine surgeon with Norton Leatherman Spine, has pioneered a new, minimally invasive, robotic-assisted surgery that shortens operations and cuts down on recovery time. His work has attracted attention around the world. […]

Read Full Story

Trouble getting around? Don’t confuse cervical myelopathy symptoms with aging

74-year-old Rodger First started having trouble getting around, he assumed it was just a part of getting older. For months, he struggled on uneven surfaces. “I remember falling three or four times one day,” Rodger […]

Read Full Story

Norton Healthcare and LHC Group Inc. partner to provide quality home recovery programs

Everyone knows there’s no place like home. That’s especially true when recovering from illness or injury. Norton Healthcare and LHC Group Inc. announced recently the formation of a joint venture partnership – creating Norton Home […]

Read Full Story

The Schroth method: Noninvasive treatment for scoliosis gaining popularity in the US

Scoliosis affects about 7 million people in the U.S. People with scoliosis have an abnormal curve in their spine, which can vary in severity. For those who need treatment, options range from physical therapy, such […]

Read Full Story

Search our entire site.

Schedule an Appointment

Select an appointment date and time from available spots listed below.