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UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica

Spine Surgery

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Spine Surgery

If you are having cervical spine surgery, you may experience some swelling of the neck that may make it difficult to swallow.  We can medicate you for the pain.  A liquid or soft diet will be available to you.

You may be fitted with a cervical collar called an Aspen Collar.  You will be given instructions in its use.  The pads inside the Aspen collar can be changed when soiled.  Your nurse will give you a demonstration of a pad change and an extra set of pads will be given to you to take home.    The soiled pads can be washed in warm soapy water, rinsed and allowed to air dry.

If you are having lumbar spine surgery, you may be required to wear a lumbar brace to help with the healing of your spine.  You will be provided with this brace either before or during your hospital stay.  Wear it as instructed. 

For all spine patients, we will help you turn in bed using a method called log rolling.  Log rolling means your shoulders and hips move at the same time as if the spine were a "log."  It prevents stress on the spine.  We will ask you to fold your arms across your chest and breathe in and out slowly.  Two nurses will each take one end of your pull sheet and gently lift and slide you first to one side of the bed and then roll you to the opposite side.  Pillows will be placed behind you to keep you from falling back.  Relax into the pillows.  We will also place a pillow between your legs for comfort.  We will do this every 2 to 3 hours beginning right after surgery alternating sides and back.  If you cannot tolerate a position, let us know and we will make adjustments.  Please do not push or pull yourself.  As you progress and your pain lessens, you will be able to log roll with minimal assistance or even by yourself.

We will instruct you how to get in and out of bed without twisting your back. A copy of Back Precautions will be given to you in the hospital.

If you have any questions about this portion of the website, please contact us at orthospineinfo@mednet.ucla.edu.