FAQs

The following is a list of FAQs asked by our patients and is by no means all inclusive. Not all circumstances can be anticipated; what we tell you about expected pre-op and post-op stay is subject to change as indicated by the needs of each patient.
I’m coming from out-of-state or from another country. How long prior to surgery do I need to be there and how long after surgery do I have to stay?

Typically it’s a week before or a week after, depending on a number of factors that will be specific to each patient such as: 

  • The complexity of the medical condition of the patient;
  • Whether there is additional workup that still needs to be done
  • If the insurance company has already approved the procedure/procedures that the patient is coming to New York for
  • How long the hospital stay is (ranging from same-day to 5-7 days post-op) expected to be
  • Whether the patient will need inpatient rehabilitation stay after the surgery
  • And any anticipated departure is contingent upon us being satisfied that there are no complications or complexities that would force a longer stay
  • Usually Dr. Jenkins makes the final departure clearance decisions during his Monday (or sometimes Tuesday) visit with the patients operated on the prior week. 
  • And other factors as well… 

Dr. Jenkins is mindful of your time and expenses and doesn’t wish to keep anyone longer than necessary to provide the best possible care for each and every patient. 

What do I bring to the hospital/ambulatory surgical center?

Documents and Paperwork

  • List of the medications with dosage information that you are taking including any over-the-counter medications
  • List of allergies you may have
  • Your medical insurance card and information
  • Medications prescribed to you and that the hospital/surgery center cannot provide in their original labeled prescription bottles
  • Completed Health Care Proxy form if you have one
  • Contact numbers for physicians, family and friends who may need to be contacted (please make sure that our office has the contact information of who we should contact after your surgery is completed)

An Overnight Bag with Personal Items

  • Your dentures and/or eyeglasses if you require them
  • Depending on how long you are anticipated to stay bring a few sets of loose, comfortable clothing.
  • If you were fitted for a brace or collar to wear post-operatively, don’t forgot to bring it!

Also feel free to speak to our existing patients who have had surgery with us for their recommendations on bringing additional items they have found useful.

Do you have any recommendations on where to stay in the city or discounts?

If you are having surgery at Mount Sinai, there are a number of hotels that offer discounts to patients. 

See https://www.mountsinai.org/locations/mount-sinai/your-visit/planning. Many patients also opt to stay in the neighboring areas such as Westchester County, NY or NJ where rates may be somewhat more affordable.  

How long will I need to be out of work?
This question depends on the type of surgery and the type of work you do. In general, when we fill out FMLA forms or write notes for patients for their employers we write you out of work for 6 weeks from the date of your scheduled surgery. You may however be able to return to work as early as two weeks from the surgery date depending on the complexity of the surgery you undergo and what your work environment allows. We do not write patients out for permanent social security disability only for temporary disability as our goal is to get you back to living your life!
What restrictions will I have after surgery?

Again, this question depends on the type of surgery that you undergo. In general, if you are undergoing a lumbar procedure such as a lumbar discectomy or lumbar fusion, you will need to avoid BLT’s (Bending, lifting and twisting) for the first six weeks after surgery. In addition, you will be restricted from lifting anything heavier than 8-10 pounds (equivalent to a gallon of milk or a bag of groceries).

For most posterior cervical fusions, we have you fitted for a cervical neck collar which you will need to wear 24/7 for 6 weeks after surgery. This means that you also must wear it when you go to sleep. The whole point of the collar is to keep your neck properly aligned to help facilitate proper healing of your fusion. Please avoid large pillows behind your head that push your neck forward. If you are a side sleeper, you may put a small pillow underneath your head to keep that alignment. If you a back sleeper, you may put a pillow behind both your neck and shoulder lengthwise or purchase a wedge pillow at your local medical supply store to sleep on. You will also be given a waterproof cervical collar in the hospital called a Philadelphia collar which you can switch to use for taking showers.

For lumbar fusions, we have you fitted for a custom-molded lumbar brace that you will need to wear anytime you are out of bed for the first 6 weeks following the surgery. While in bed, you can lie down in any position that is comfortable for you, including being in the fetal position. If you must pick something up, learn the back healthy habit of bending with your knees instead of your back.

What type of exercise can I do after surgery?
In order to allow your body to heal the only physical exercise activity that we recommend is walking. There is no prescribed amount you need to walk every day. In general, your body will dictate how much you can walk. If you walk around the block, and you are so sore afterwards that you can’t do much for the rest of the day, pull back on that amount. You will find for most procedures, sitting, standing or walking for too long of a period makes you sorer so try to change positions every hour.
When do I start physical therapy?
In general, outpatient physical therapy begins at 6-weeks post-operatively. We will furnish you with a script with guidelines for your physical therapist at your first post-operative appointment.
When can I drive?
You may resume driving when you are off narcotics and feel that you can safely and comfortably put your foot on the pedals and can turn to check your blind spots. If you are in a collar or a lumbar brace, you may not drive until you are cleared for them to be removed (usually at the 6-week post-op date).
What else can I do to facilitate my recovery?
If you are overweight, one of the single best things you can do for yourself is losing weight. The more weight you carry on your spine, the harder your body has to work to get around. In general, keeping your core tight helps to support the muscles around your spine
Do I need any medical equipment at home such as a special bed?

There is no bed that we recommend purchasing or renting specifically for recovery post-operatively or in general. Your bed should be comfortable for you and firm enough for you to able to get in and out of. Some other items which are not required but many patients find helpful post-surgery include a raised toilet seat and a grabber. For all outpatient procedures, we do not recommend you getting a wheelchair or walker as we want to encourage ambulation on your own. If you are staying in the hospital, the physical therapist will evaluate you and recommend any type of medical equipment that you might benefit from at home.

Do I need someone to take care of me when I return home?
This largely depends on your current neurological condition, the type of procedure you are having and how mobile you are after surgery. In general, because of some of the general restrictions mentioned above, you may need assistance with basic chores to start until you are a little more recovered and can navigate these tasks on your own.
When can I return to sports?

We have a graduated “return to play” for sports in general. We treat many amateur to professional athletes in all kinds of sports, so the specifics are somewhat variable depending on the level of playing which you need to perform. For example, in golf, after you have completed your physical therapy, you may start with one week of pitching and putting, the following week using 7-9 irons at a driving range and not playing on course yet, then mid-range irons, longer irons the following week, a week of using the drivers, then playing 9 holes on a course, and then 18 holes on a course.