During Your Stay

Your spine care team is focused on making you as comfortable as possible and helping you recover safely and quickly.


After your surgery, you'll spend about an hour in the recovery room before being moved to your private room. Your nurse will ensure that you have everything you need. Our facilities in Mountain View and Los Gatos — including the dedicated Orthopedic Pavilion at our Los Gatos Campus — are ideal for people recovering from back surgery or joint procedures. You'll be cared for by specialty-trained nurses who have advanced expertise in meeting the unique needs of orthopedic and spine patients.

If you'd like, a family member can stay with you. As a wellness-focused hospital, we know that family can help make your recovery go more smoothly. We encourage family members to attend your physical therapy sessions so they can assist you once you go home.

Learn more about what to expect the day of surgery.

Medical Devices to Assist Your Recovery

It's good to become familiar with any special equipment prescribed by your doctor to assist your recovery. The types of devices used can vary, depending on your procedure, and your care team will provide detailed instructions.

While you’re still under anesthesia, your surgeon may place a urinary catheter into your bladder. This thin, flexible tube drains into a urine-collection bag. It may be in place for one or two days after surgery. Anesthesia can slow down your body's systems, so the catheter ensures your bladder empties spontaneously. It's portable, so it will allow you to get up to walk the day of surgery.

To help keep your lungs clear and prevent infection after surgery, you’ll perform lung exercises using an incentive spirometer. The device helps you keep your lungs active during the recovery process and helps you take in more air and oxygen.

Your nurse will show you how to use the handheld device:

  • After you exhale, you'll place the mouthpiece in your mouth and take a slow, deep breath. The device's diaphragm — located inside a clear, measured tube — will rise.
  • We'll ask you to try to raise this diaphragm as far as you can and then exhale, letting the diaphragm fall back to the bottom of the tube.
  • You'll repeat the process five to 10 times every hour while you're awake.

In addition to using the incentive spirometer, you'll be encouraged to cough and take deep breaths.

Moving Forward Toward Recovery

Your care team will help you get up and walk the same day you have surgery, usually within six hours of when you’re moved to your room. It's important to walk as soon as possible, within your doctor's specified timeframe. A nurse or therapist will help you get out of bed the first few times.

Some people walk as soon as 15 minutes after they arrive in their room, while others walk within a couple of hours. When you walk will depend on how you're feeling and your medical condition.

Getting out of bed and moving around sooner — also called early ambulation — can help:

  • Minimize pain and discomfort.
  • Prevent complications, such as blood clots.
  • Promote a faster recovery, which can result in a shorter hospital stay.

Blood clot prevention is one of the primary reasons to get on your feet as soon as possible. The risk of developing a clot increases with prolonged bed rest or from undergoing anesthesia, especially after procedures that take several hours.

Your doctor may recommend special stockings, called sequential compression devices, to help reduce clotting risk. They inflate and gently squeeze your calves — one leg at a time — to increase blood circulation to your heart and reduce the risk of a blood clot.

Rehab Begins in the Hospital

Your rehabilitation will begin while you’re still in the hospital, with daily physical and occupational therapy:

  • Physical therapy. A physical therapist will see you twice a day. Typically, you’ll have your first session the morning after your surgery. You'll learn how to get in and out of bed properly and use neutral spine principles. You’ll learn exercises to help strengthen your extremities and your core, as well as practice going up and down stairs.
  • Occupational therapy. An occupational therapist will work with you daily to help you perform routine activities safely, such as showering, dressing and daily household tasks. Your therapist will show you how to use assistive devices to help you be more independent at home, such as long-handled devices (reachers) to help you grab or pick up things without bending or overextending.

The day after your procedure, someone from your care team will meet with you to discuss your discharge plan, as well as your rehabilitation needs. Learn more about planning for your needs after you leave the hospital.