Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
The spine surgeon’s job may be done after you’ve been discharged from the medical center, but your rehab is just beginning. When it comes to ensuring your rehab stays on schedule, one of the most important things you can do is practice proper wound care strategies. Below, we share five tips for preventing problems with your surgical site after a spinal operation.
Keep the Site Clean
You may be told that you aren’t allowed to shower or get the wound wet for a short period of time while it recovers, but you still need to make sure you’re keeping the wound clean. You surgeon will give you specific instructions for keeping the wound clean, but dab the site with a sterile wipe when changing your surgical dressing to remove any fluid or buildup. Be very gentle, and do not press down hard on the site.
Change Your Dressing
Similarly, you’ll want to change your gauze or surgical dressing at regular intervals as ordered by your doctor. If you don’t change your dressing, you may be prone to infection. Since it may be difficult to change your dressing by your own, recruit a friend or family member to assist with the process. This will also allow them to help you check for an infection.
Know the Warning Signs
Another way to help protect your surgical site from infections is to know the early warning signs of a problem. If you have yellowish discharge, if your surgical site is hot, or you are suffering from a fever, call your doctor right away. If you can’t get a hold of someone at your clinic, visit an emergency department, because ignoring it won’t make the problem go away. Talk with your doctor before and after surgery so you are on the same page about what specific warning signs you should look for in the first few days after your operation.
Avoid Scratching the Site
Another common complaint from patients who have undergone a spine surgery is that their surgical site is itchy. However, if you try to scratch the itch, you can bring bacteria into the area or loosen a stitch or suture. If the itch simply won’t go away, call your doctor and ask if an over-the-counter topical cream is safe, or if a prescription itch cream is the preferred route.
Communicate With Your Doctor
Finally, if you want to have the best healing after a surgical procedure, you’ll want to ensure you and your doctor are on the same page. Make sure they explain how you are expected to clean and change the dressing, how frequently it should be changed, which activities should be avoided and what signs to keep an eye out for. As we mentioned in the intro, every surgery is unique and different patients have different risks. But if you take the time to establish wound care guidelines before a procedure, you’ll be much more prepared the handle life after a spinal surgery.