Do you have an upcoming spine surgery scheduled? Or has your doctor implied that you may be in need of surgery in the next several years? We’ve compiled a few tips to help our patients prepare for spine surgery. These tips will help prepare you for the best outcome – a life without back pain.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
One of the best ways to prepare for spine surgery is by maintaining a healthy weight. There are a couple reasons we encourage patients to maintain a healthy weight before surgery. First, being overweight or obese can increase the risk of complications during or following surgery. Second, patients that are a healthy weight following spine surgery are less likely to experience back pain. Why? Because excess weight can stress your entire body, including your spine, resulting in unwanted pain.
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Another great way to prepare for spine surgery is to stop smoking. Smoking contributes to the hardening of arteries which decreases your overall blood flow. When blood flow is restricted, the areas of your body fed by smaller vessels, like your bones and spinal discs, become severely undernourished. With little to no blood supply, these bones and discs start to rely on surrounding tissue for nourishment. But since the surrounding tissues aren’t meant to provide nourishment, they eventually become depleted, leaving your bones and discs to essentially starve. Once your bones and discs have reached this point, they can no longer repair themselves and will likely cause you pain.
While smoking affects healing in general, we especially recommend that spinal fusion patients stop smoking before surgery. In this surgery, a bone graft is used to form a solid bridge between two vertebral segments. For a successful surgery, the bone graft and vertebral segments need to grow together. The problem is that smoking inhibits bone growth, which can cause the surgery to fail. In fact, smokers are twice as likely to have an unsuccessful spinal fusion as non-smokers.
Mentally Prepare Yourself
The last tip we have for you to prepare for spine surgery is to take the time to mentally prepare yourself. Any surgery is a big deal for most people, even if it is minimally invasive. Taking the time to think about your surgery beforehand and discuss it with your loved ones can give you a greater sense of control and help you feel positively about the surgery and your recovery.
We recommend gathering as much information as you feel is necessary about your surgery and recovery. If you are still feeling stressed or nervous after gathering this information, we recommend discussing your concerns with a loved one or your doctor. Many patients have also had success in relieving anxiety about an upcoming surgery using meditation or other relaxation techniques.
We like to ensure our patients are well informed before their surgery with us. To continue to prepare for spine surgery, take a look at these related blog posts: