Smoking - You should stop smoking at least 4 weeks prior to surgery and remain smoke free for a minimum of 3 months after surgery.  Smoking negatively affects the blood supply to your bones and significantly slows down the healing process.  Once you have stopped smoking, we recommend that you be smoke free for the remainder of your life.

Wound – The incision should be kept clean and dry.  There are two methods to close the incision, staples or Dermabond which is skin glue. 

If you have staples you should clean the incision with alcohol and change the dressing daily.  Showering is permitted, pat the incision dry, clean with alcohol and re-apply dressing.  The staples will be removed approximately 7-10 days after you are discharged from the hospital.   Call our office to schedule the staple removal (by our clinical staff) or by your local physician.


If you have dermabond you should clean the incision with soap and water daily.  The incision should be kept clean and dry. The incision may get wet in the shower and should be “pat” dried after your shower and cleaned with alcohol.  If you have any drainage or increased tenderness or redness around the incision, please call our office.  Most incisions will have buried sutures and the skin edges will be glued together with Dermabond.  Avoid using petroleum based products on the incision for ten days after surgery.


Pain – It is normal to experience residual pain in your back and legs, as well as numbness and tingling in your legs.  These should resolve with time as your body heals.  A prescription will be given to you when you are discharged from the hospital.  The oral medication should control the pain.   If you have any medication questions or needs please use our medication voicemail available Mon-Fri 8:30am-4:00pm.  Prescriptions for pain medicine cannot be changed or refilled outside of our regular office hours nor through the answering service.


Activity – Do not sit or stand for longer than 30 minutes during the first week after discharge.  We do want you up and moving around the house.  Begin a walking exercise program after your staples are removed.  You should walk on a level surface and try to build your walking program up to 2-3 miles a day by the end of the first month after surgery.  You may be driven after discharge but we prefer you not drive yourself or to only drive short distances until after your one-month follow up office visit.  If you are being driven a significant distance upon discharge, please stop about every 45 minutes and walk around the car a couple of times to prevent stiffness and soreness.


Return To Work -  The recuperation period is generally 2-4 week.  If you are not involved in extremely strenuous labor, you may be able to return to work after one week.  If your occupation is physically strenuous, it may require that you be off work for one month.  Returning to work is discussed during the first visit following surgery.


Possible Complications

Infection – Although rare, an infection can occur after any surgery.  The bacteria usually come from the patient’s own skin.  Treatment requires removal of the stimulator, and a course of antibiotics.

CSF Leak – A cerebrospinal fluid leak from the lining that surrounds your spine may occur.  This is unusual, but is more common if have had previous spine surgery.  If a leak does occur, it is treated with the placement of a drain near the incision site and several days of complete bed rest in the hospital.

Paralysis – This complication is extremely rare but the surgery does involve the spinal cord and nerve roots. Paralysis is usually partial and temporary but cases of permanent, total paralysis have been reported.


DVT – After surgery blood clots in the legs can occur. These usually present as a painful swollen leg. If you think this could be happening, you will need an ultrasound to diagnosis the problem. You should go to the closest emergency room to have this evaluated as it can be a life-threatening problem. If you do have a DVT it is treated with blood thinners.

Medical Complications – After surgery and anesthesia there is an increased risk for medical problems such as heart attacks, kidney failure, pneumonia, stroke and even death. If you feel you are having an emergency, please go straight to the closest emergency room.

Spinal Cord Stimulator