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Information For

Our Patients

FAQs

What should I bring to my first appointment?
Please bring recent MRI’s, CT scans, radiographs (X-Rays) done within a year of the appointment.  Any documentation of any prior spine surgeries (operative report) is also helpful.  An updated list of medications with dosages and how often they are taken per day should be given to the staff when checking in.  Names and addresses of your primary care doctor, referring doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists who are involved in your care should be brought to the appointment.  An updated insurance card is a necessary part of the registration process.
Should I take all of my home medications leading up to surgery?
For the most part, yes.  However, if you have diabetes, hold your medications when you are fasting prior to surgery.  We will do our best to schedule your surgery earlier in the day to avoid problems with your diabetes from not eating or taking your medications. Janeal will provide you with a list of medications that may increase your risk of bleeding; these medications must be stopped prior to surgery.  If you are taking NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, you need to stop these medications ten days prior to surgery.  For those patients who take warfarin (Coumadin), we will have you undergo a protocol that may involve temporarily switching you to Lovenox or the equivalent heparin medication.
Why do I have to see an internal medicine specialist at the hospital before surgery when I have my own primary care doctor?
To optimize your safety and minimize medical risk factors prior to surgery, a consultation with an internal medicine specialist is a mandatory part of our preoperative protocol.  While you are hospitalized after surgery, the hospital based medicine specialist will make rounds daily.  These physicians are the co-admitting physicians during your postoperative stay.  For continuity of care, we prefer that they meet you ahead of your admission date so that they are familiar with your medical history and risk factors ahead of time.  For surgeries occurring in the outpatient surgery center, you may ask your primary care provider to perform the pre-op medical clearance.  Copies of documents such as the operative report and discharge summary will be automatically provided to your primary care doctor by our office staff.
What should I bring to my preoperative appointment?  What can I expect?
Please bring your most updated medication list, and any lab or test results done with your internal medicine consultation.  Have a list of questions about the surgery to help focus our discussion and make the appoint flow efficiently.  The surgery consent will be completed at this visit.  Victoria, our Physician Assistant, will facilitate this visit.  You will also be given a prescription for your postoperative pain medications at the end of the pre-op appointment so that they can be filled prior to your hospital admission; that way, they will be ready for you at home after your surgery.
When do I make my first postoperative appointment?
Shannan will assist in setting up your appointment.  Typically, we see patients 7-10 days after surgery.  The exceptions are anterior cervical discectomy and fusion procedures and those where staples are used for skin closure (rarely done), which are seen 14 days after surgery.  Usually these office visits are done with Victoria, our Physician Assistant.
When can I shower or bathe after surgery?
Usually, showers are allowed after 72 hours from your surgery.  If the incision is not dry or still oozing, then showers should be delayed until the site is dry.  Submersion in baths, hot tubs, swimming pools, oceans or lakes should NOT occur until cleared by your surgeon.
How long after surgery do I have to wear my brace?
Depending on the surgery, a brace is recommended to protect the operative site during the healing period.  For decompressive procedures without hardware, the bracing is for comfort and may be worn for 2-4 weeks after surgery.  For procedures with hardware, bracing usually occurs for 6-8 weeks.
What equipment will I need for home after surgery?
In addition to the brace or orthosis, a front wheel walker, and 3-in-1 commode are the typical durable medical equipment (DME) prescribed for home use postoperatively.  If needed, a hospital bed for home may be ordered.  These arrangement can be made prior to hospitalization or at the hospital after surgery.
When can we start physical therapy (PT) after surgery?
Outpatient physical therapy may be started only after Dr. Ball clears you to do so.  Any HOME PT should be limited to a home safety evaluation and assistance with transfers from bed to chair or bed to standing, transfers from standing to bed or sofa, and ambulation.  NO EXERCISES SHOULD BE DONE BY THE VISITING HOME PT.  EXERCISES ON THE ABDOMEN, BACK, NECK, ARMS OR LEGS SHOULD BE AVOIDED UNTIL CLEARED BY DR. BALL.  These more advanced exercises are usually started 4-8 weeks after surgery, depending on the procedure.
When will I be able to return to work after surgery?
Your return to work date depends on the type of procedure performed and the nature of your work.  The timeframe may range from 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on the physical demands of your job.  Usually, it is wise to resume work on a part time basis such as 20 hours per week for 2-3 weeks, then advance to 30 hours per week for 2-3 weeks, then a full 40 hours per week.  This gradual advancement allows your body to readjust to the demands of regular work duty.