Immediate post-operative pain can be managed with a combination of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and a mild pain pill (e.g. Darvocet, Vicodin). The narcotic pain medications (Vicodin) are addictive and should only be used for a short period of time (less than two weeks).

See Pain Management After Outpatient Spine Surgery


As the discomfort from back surgery subsides (usually about 1 to 2 weeks) the patient can move towards substituting Tylenol for the narcotic pain medications.

Ice therapy applied to the back can be especially useful to decrease pain in the first 48 hours after back surgery. A plastic bag filled with ice or a commercial ice pack should be applied every 1 to 2 hours for approximately 20 minutes. One should be careful not to directly apply the ice to the skin to avoid an ice burn.

After the first 48 hours, ice and cold packs can be used after activity to decrease any activity-related discomfort.