Care After

ExitCare ImageRefer to this sheet in the next few weeks. These instructions provide you with information on caring for yourself after your procedure. Your caregiver may also give you more specific instructions. Your treatment has been planned according to current medical practices, but problems sometimes occur. Call your caregiver if you have any problems or questions after your procedure.


Pain Relief

  • Put ice on the injured area.

  • Put ice in a plastic bag.

  • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.

  • Leave the ice on for about 20 minutes every hour. You may need to do this for several days.

  • Only take pain medicine has been prescribed by the surgeon. Follow the directions carefully. Do not take over-the-counter pain medicine unless the surgeon says it is okay.

  • Avoid pain medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen for several weeks. They increase the chances of bleeding.

  • Do not drive if you are taking narcotic pain medicines. You may need to take a stool softener while taking narcotic pain medicine. Also eat foods high in fiber to prevent not being able to have a bowel movement (constipation). Fruits and vegetables are examples.

Wound Care

  • Do not get the surgical cut (incision) wet until the surgeon says it is okay.

  • Check the area around the incision often. Look for redness, swelling, or anything leaking from the wound.


  • Take it easy for a while. A full recovery can take 4 to 6 weeks.

  • Walk as much as possible.

  • Do not sit for long periods of time during the first few weeks. Do not pull on things.

  • Do not drive until your surgeon says it is okay. Avoid long trips in the car for several weeks.

  • Do not lift anything heavier than 10 lb (4.5 kg) until your surgeon says it is safe.

  • Ask your caregiver when you can resume other activities, such as work, driving, or sex. Avoid bending, squatting, and crawling.


  • Exercises are often needed to stretch the muscles in the back and to make the back stronger. Ask your caregiver what you should and should not do. The correct exercises can speed up your recovery. Physical therapy may be needed.

Follow-up Care

  • The surgeon may need to take out stitches or staples. This is usually done about 2 weeks after the surgery.

  • The surgeon may do X-rays to see how the disk area is healing.


  • You have any questions about medicines.

  • Your pain continues, even after taking pain medicine.

  • You feel sick to your stomach (nauseous).

  • You are constipated.


  • Your pain suddenly becomes much worse, particularly if your leg pain increases.

  • Your incision area is red, swollen, or bleeding.

  • You have fluid leaking from the incision.

  • Your legs or feet become painful or swollen.

  • You have trouble breathing.

  • You have difficulty controlling urination or bowel movements.

  • You have chest pain.

  • You have a fever.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.