Depending on the type of surgery, some patients go home the same day while others may go home in two to four days.

The days between surgery and discharge may be filled with instructions, exercises and rest.

Here is an example of a typical day after surgery in the hospital:

Physical Therapy

On post-operative day one, if ordered by your doctor, a physical therapist (PT) will visit you to assess your mobility and strength. The PT and the nurse will work together to make sure you have received pain medicine before your physical therapy visit. During your session, the PT will instruct you on proper body mechanics and ways to protect your spine. The PT can also assess whether you need a walker for support.

In the hospital, you’ll be walking at least two to three times per day with the nursing staff, other floor staff or a PT.

If you underwent a spinal fusion, the fused spine must be kept in proper alignment. You will be taught how to move properly, reposition yourself, sit, stand, and walk. You should not bend, lift, or twist. While in bed, you will be instructed to turn frequently using a log rolling technique. This maneuver allows your entire body to move as a unit to avoid twisting the spine.

Occupational Therapy

If you need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), an occupational therapist (OT) visit can be ordered. Occupational therapy focuses on restoring your ability to perform self-care tasks, such as getting in and out of a bed or chair, getting dressed, going to the bathroom, taking a shower and preparing meals.


Fluids and soft foods will be gradually offered. Before eating, please check with your nurse concerning your specific dietary instructions.


If you need to wear a brace, it will be put on the day after surgery. Wear the back or neck brace at all times unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.


The goal of pain management after surgery is to make you comfortable enough to participate in your care like walking to the bathroom and engaging in physical therapy. While rest is an important part of recovery, activity will help speed the healing process.

What You Can Do During the Remainder of Your Hospital Stay

You can make your hospital stay more comfortable for yourself by doing a few simple things:

  • Set a small goal every day and try to achieve it by the end of the day.
  • Telling your nurse if you are feeling constipated, experiencing increased pain, nausea, muscle spasms or difficulty urinating.
  • Keep doing the circulation exercise in bed or while sitting to keep circulation flowing in the legs.
  • Take pain medicine as prescribed so you’ll be able to participate in therapies with a limited amount of pain. Ask your nurse when therapy is scheduled so you can take your medications before the therapist arrives.
  • Continuing to eat a healthy diet.
  • You will still tire easily, so get plenty of rest so you’ll have enough energy to participate in hospital activities, such as physical therapy.
  • Continuing to use your incentive spirometer to prevent pneumonia.

Tip: You can keep track of your medications, use the pain symptom tracker in the DoctorPlan app to monitor your health in the hospital and at home.

Disclaimer – All information is for educational pursuit and information purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The viewer should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding their medical condition, diagnosis, procedures, treatment plan, or other health related topics.