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how to cough after fusion surgery?

lisawllisaw Posts: 11
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had L5/S1 fusion with instrumentation on Monday and got home yesterday. I seem to be catching on to how to most things without hurting myself but what the heck do I do if I have to cough or sneeze? To say it hurts would be an understatement.




  • By that I mean, sit or lie straight, "brace yourself" so to speak, put your hands around your waist, thumbs in front, fingers gently along or around your incision & GENTLY "push in" on the sides of your waist/rib cage as you cough or sneeze.
    Focus your effort into your stomach or diaphram muscles, not your back muscles (or what's left of them...)
    I remember coughing in the hospital after sugery --OMG--! and then sneezing @ home from the cats & woodstove fly-ash...geeze louise, nobody tells us about these "simple" things...
    Same goes for blowing your nose...get ready for it, then do it. Dont get caught off-guard...as you say, Lisa, hurting is truly an understatement...
    And I won't go into getting the flu & being nauseated..but if you do, kneel on the floor, DON'T bend over. That is truly miserable, to get the flu.
    1st time that happened, I was totallly unprepared for yet another post- fusion "adventure"...oh my...
    All the little things we once took for granted...

    Hope your are otherwise doing well, only 4 days out. Sending "uneventful" healing thoughts your way! Was this your 1st surgery?

  • Have you tried to put a pillow over your stomach and kind of push in while you cough or sneeze. this may help too. I had L5/S1 fusion so I know all to well what you mean. What until you have to take #2 (bowel movement). I was so scared to reopen my incision that I became constipated so I made it worse for myself. I didn't for go for 8 or 9 days and I was in excruciating pain. So, if you haven't gone already, please try to go before too many days go by. Take stool softeners and/or have enemas or suppositories available.

    I hope you are doing well and please feel free to PM me with any questions you may have about post op healing after fusion.
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  • CAREFULLY!!!!! Don't want to joke...its so darn painful in the beginning. The pillow trick works best!!!!!
  • Hi Lakeside,

    Yes it was my first surgery, first stay in a hospital - actually a lot of firsts. I definitely strike it off my "bucket list" - no need to do any of that again! ;-)

    Other than the coughing and sneezing (I've got some allergies) I'm getting along fairly well now. Frankly I'm amazed at how fast I'm progressing. From not being able to move at all on Tuesday to cruising around the house like an old lady today.


  • Hi Ming,

    I had read about the first BM on this forum before surgery so I made it one of my "projects" while in hospital. Sad but true. ;-)
    Hi Ming,

    I managed to go on day three with the help of a nurse with 40 years experience. The first time wasn't terrible (I actually had a much harder time urinating until today), but then I had to go again about 20 minutes later and that time things were really moving. I barely made it and definitely wound up moving faster than I wanted to. Apparently humiliation is much higher on my list of concerns than a whole pile of pain. ;-)
    I'm still taking stool softeners for now to keep things moving.
    Thanks for the great advice.


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  • darn, post got lost. JUST SHORT - wanted to say congrats on making it through your surgery.

    I also suggest holding yourself in as you cough.
    And do not throw up! I've had a few dry heaves these last 2 nights and they suck big time - You can't hold yourself when you are also holding a bucket under your chin.
  • If ya have to barf, you hold pillow and have someone else hold bucket at chin. This is what your helpers are for. Thanking god everyday for my sister, also for bestest friend ever and my boyfriend. I no longer have any definition for humiliaton, unfortunately. And all 3 were great about it.

    Best of recoveries,
  • Yes Trasee - I think you've got a way to do it. I had a nurse holding the bucket with me and my mom helping me sit up/lean over the bucket. Didn't think about having a pillow at that time.

    This time the nausea hasn't been as violent - more like a cough that gags me.

  • I agree with the pillow for coughing-and try using your stomach muscles instead of your entire body----I take Miralax every day=it doesnt give you cramps or diahrrea,but keeps things moving.There is a generic out now,so it is less expensive.Please dont let yourself get constipated--after my first fusion I was right back in the hospital,because I had gone too long and had to have help----eat fruit,veggies,etc
  • I have been doing that wierd thing where you go "ah,ah,ah,ah..." and end up not sneezing. Not as satisying and you end up doing it more often but less painful. When I actually do sneeze I put my hands in the small of my back, or one in my back and one on a wall or something and do it gently. Coughing - I just don't really. I sort of clear my throat and have that eye watering thing you get when in a quiet place and you can't cough! I am 12 weeks post op now so you do learn these techniques with time!
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