The following information is of a general nature. If you have a specific question, please ask the nursing staff in the hospital before you leave, or contact Mr Han's rooms on Tel: 03 9417 3138.
Before you leave hospital, make sure you have:
- Your medications
- Your imaging (X-rays, CTs, MRIs)
- A follow up appointment
- A medical certificate, if required for work, etc.
After Spinal Operations (lower back/neck)
You may continue to experience spine (lower back/neck) pain/tightness for a short period after the operation. However, it is expected to minimise over time. Generally the pain should settle in about 4 to 6 weeks, but depending on your circumstance, this period may be shorter or longer. Pain killers will be supplied upon discharge and should be taken on a decreasing basis as your pain settles. Do not bend or twist your back/neck, or sit for prolonged periods (lower back only).
You will need to keep your wound clean and dry. It may be tender and/or numb but this too will settle, within a few months. Your stitches are dissolvable and therefore will not require manual removal. If the wound becomes swollen, red and inflamed, or increases in pain, or if you experience fever, you need to seek medical advice ASAP. Rehabilitation and exercise are important to your recovery. While you are in hospital you will see a physiotherapist who will give you exercises to do. Once you are home you should continue to exercise at a rate that you find comfortable. Excellent physical activities include walking, swimming and hydrotherapy. These will help strengthen your muscles and speed the recovery process. Sometimes, depending on circumstances, you may be referred to a rehabilitation hospital for ongoing inpatient care.
Most people ask the question, "When can I get on with my normal life/work?". Generally speaking, recovery will take about 4-6 weeks, but you will know when you feel able to do certain things. However, do not over-do it too early and risk aggravating your back. Going back to work should be done on a graduated basis.
After Craniotomy Operations
After a craniotomy, it is not uncommon to experience headaches. However, they will generally respond well to pain medication, such as Paracetamol. Drinking sufficient water also helps. If headaches do not settle with simple pain medication, please see your GP. Jaw pain upon eating is also normal and will take several months to resolve.
You will need to keep your wound clean and dry. It may be tender and/or numb but this too will settle, within a few months. Your stitches/clips will be removed in about 7 to 10 days. If they have not been removed before your discharge from hospital, they can be removed by your local GP or a district nurse. Do not wash your hair while the clips or stitches are in place. Once they have been removed, you can then gently wash your hair with mild soap and water. Do not have any hairdressing appointments where the use of chemical products is involved, ie perms or colours, etc for at least 3 months after your wound has completely healed. If the wound becomes swollen, red, inflamed, or increases in pain, or if you experience fever, you need to seek medical advice ASAP.
Dexamethasone is a steroid medication which you may have commenced in hospital. This medication helps reduce brain swelling. Make sure you have instructions, and understand them, relating to the dosage / gradual weaning, if appropriate, once you are home.
Anti-seizure medication may also be prescribed. You must remain on this medication until instructed otherwise. Make sure you understand the dosage, etc, before you leave the hospital. If you are one of the small proportion of patients who suffer seizures after your craniotomy, it is vital that you take your medications as prescribed.
Alcohol may affect your medication and your brain function. Do not consume any alcohol without having first spoken to Mr Han.
You must not drive a vehicle or operate heavy machinery until you discuss it with Mr Han at your post operation appointment which should be made approximately 6 weeks after surgery. Also do not climb heights or swim unsupervised.
Air travel is normally fine after about a month. However, changes in air pressure may cause headaches.
Rehabilitation may be required for your recovery. While you are in hospital you will see a physiotherapist who will give you specific exercises that will benefit you. Once you are home you should continue to exercise at a rate that you find comfortable, then gradually increase this. You may play sports after about 3 months but no contact sports.
Returning to work will be different with each person, depending on the type of work you do. When you eventually do return to work, you must commence slowly, and gradually increase the hours. You should discuss this with Mr Han at your first post operation appointment.