Six ways to prepare for spine surgery
If you’ve made the decision to proceed with surgery to relieve your back pain, there are things you can do to improve your recovery. Michael Peelle, MD, Palmetto Health-USC Spine Center, offers six steps you can take for an optimal outcome.
- Don’t neglect movement before surgery. Although back pain can be debilitating, it is important to maintain physical activity prior to surgery. Not only does this help you maintain or achieve a healthy weight, which speeds recovery, but it also decreases your likelihood of getting a blood clot or circulation issues that affect surgery.
- Don’t take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin thin your blood, which raises the risk of problems during surgery. You should stop taking them a week before your procedure.
- Nutrition. Maintaining a proper diet of high protein foods prior to and after surgery is essential for good healing. If you are diabetic, make sure your blood sugar is well regulated. Remember not to eat or drink (including no coffee) the morning of surgery.
- Planning. We encourage you to ask your network of family or friends to check on you in person or by phone at least once a day after you come home from surgery. You may also need to arrange for someone to help you for a few days with daily activities and chores such as cooking, cleaning, dressing, driving and shopping. Even after minor spine surgery, your doctor may suggest that you refrain from driving for a week or two. Make sure you arrange transportation to and from the hospital as well as check-up appointments and other errands.
- Smoking. If you smoke or use tobacco products, you should quit several months before surgery. Individuals who use these products are at a much higher risk for complications after surgery, including infection and delays in bone healing. Make sure to inform your surgeon about any nicotine use well in advance of the procedure so your surgical plan can be individually tailored for your success.
- Taking notes. Consider taking notes or bringing a friend or loved one to your consultation when preparing for spinal surgery in order to go into your procedure confident about what the surgeon will be doing.
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