Before Your Spine Surgery
Finding A Doctor
The first step after deciding that surgery is necessary is to find the right doctor. Finding someone you trust is of utmost importance. You should find a surgeon who is competent, has a good record of performing the procedure you are having done, and is someone who you enjoy working with and trust. There are steps you can take, and questions you can ask to determine if a doctor would be good for you.
Is This Necessary?
Some surgical procedures are always necessary, while others are not. The decision to have surgery must be well thought out by you and your doctor.
You should understand the potential risks and benefits of any procedure. Often a second opinion can help you better understand your options-you should never hesitate to ask for another opinion, even if you plan on returning to your current doctor.
Understand the Procedure
This may seem obvious, but you should understand what is being done, how it should benefit you, what the potential risks are, and how you can help improve your outcome.
Preparing For Surgery
Studies have shown that several characteristics of individuals undergoing surgery have a significant impact on recovery from an operation. People who have good exercise and nutritional habits, and those who do not smoke, tend to have a faster recovery from surgery. If you know you are going to be having surgery in the future, try the following:
Do not smoke. Sounds simple, but incredibly difficult. However, the rewards will be worth every ounce of effort! Smoking changes blood flow patterns, delays healing, and has been shown to increase the length of recovery. Furthermore, a patientís own perception of their health, and their perception of treatment success, is negatively impacted by smoking. No soapbox is needed here, the information is known to everyone, but its importance cannot be overstated. If you do smoke, there is no better time to stop.
Eat well. Our bodies use food for fuel and to rebuild itself. When you have surgery you may feel as though you are lying around all day, but your body is running a marathon inside. Healing requires a good diet and plenty of nutrients. No need for expensive supplements, but do eat a healthy and balanced diet.
Be fit. Especially true for orthopedic procedures, but also true universally... You will have a difficult time beginning physical therapy after surgery if you are not in good shape before surgery. This does not mean you need to be in top physical condition, nor should you taper for a procedure, just be prepared for your physical therapy. For most people this means a regular exercise routine, such as walking or cycling, several times a week. This will prepare you for the demands of physical therapy, which is already a significant effort due to the procedure. Don't make your recovery even harder on yourself by being out of shape! Meeting with your physical therapist before surgery is probably the best way to get good recommendations on how to best physically prepare for surgery.