Orthopedic spine surgery involves more than just your time under the knife. The before and after can be even more important, which is why the right preparation is key to the desired outcome.
“If you’re scheduled to have back surgery, you’re probably a little worried about how it will turn out,” said WebMD. “Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to make sure your operation is successful.”
Carefully consider your doctor
It’s easy to find an orthopedic spine surgeon. Finding a great one takes a bit more effort. When doing your search, keep these things in mind:
- The doctors’ qualifications—You’ll want to look for board certification through the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery or American Board of Medical Specialties.
- The type of procedures they do—Find a leader in minimally invasive spine surgery for a shorter procedure and hospital stay, a smaller incision, a lower chance of surgical complications and post-surgical issues, and a speedier recovery. Only about 10 percent of today’s spine surgeons have received the specialized training required to perform procedures like minimally invasive endoscopic lumbar fusions (TLIF), kyphoplasty, direct lateral minimally invasive anterior fusions (XLIF), and micro endoscopic discectomy. You can learn more about the advantages of minimally invasive back surgery here.
- Their track record—The surgical success rate of any doctor you’re considering is obviously important and is something you’ll definitely want to ask about.
- Their reputation—Aside from the doctors’ websites, have you looked elsewhere on the web to see if there is other information about them? Googling their names should bring up review websites, which can give you additional info. You probably also want to know what their patients say about them. If you don’t see testimonials on the doctors’ website, be sure to ask them for referrals.
Ask lots of questions
While you’re looking for a doctor, narrowing down your list, and even after you’ve found one, stay in a “questioning” mindset. Any time you think of something you don’t have an answer to or want further clarification on, write it down. So much of the preparation when it comes to orthopedic spine surgery is about being confident and maintaining a positive attitude. You know what they say: Knowledge is power.
Read, read, read
Your doctor should have an informative website with a pre-surgical guide that can give you a depth of information about your upcoming procedure as well as post-surgical information that outlines what you can expect after you go home.
Follow doctor’s orders
It’s critical that you do everything the doctor tells you to do in advance of your surgery to make sure you get the results you want and also remain healthy afterward. Not supposed to eat or drink anything after a certain time the night before your procedure? Don’t cave to pressure to go out for a midnight snack. Advised to drop a few pounds before you go under? Especially if your weight has been contributing to your back pain, losing a couple of pounds in advance of your procedure can help tremendously with your post-surgical back health. Need to make some changed to your medication regimen? This can be an important step in ensureing your safety during your orthopedic spine surgery.
“Some medicines may interfere with or affect the results of your surgery,” said the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). “They may cause bleeding or may interfere with the effects of your anesthesia. These medications include aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Your surgeon may ask you to stop taking the medication before your surgery.”
If you needed another reason to quit smoking, consider this: Smoking can reduce your lung capacity, which could interfere with your ability to breathe while under anesthesia and heal properly after your surgery. “The earlier you quit, the greater your chances are of avoiding surgery-related complications,” said the American Society of Anesthesiologists. “It is especially important not to smoke on the day of your surgery. Fortunately, the body begins to heal within hours of quitting. Twelve hours after a person quits, his or her heart and lungs already begin to function better as nicotine and carbon monoxide levels drop. It takes less than a day for blood flow to improve, which reduces the likelihood of post-operative complications. We recommend patients abstain from smoking for as long as possible before and after surgery, but even quitting for a brief period is still beneficial.”
Make a post-surgical rehabilitation plan
That doesn’t only mean seeing the doctor and following the required and recommended exercises after your procedure. It also means doing the preparation needed in advance to ensure a safe recovery. Making a plan of action in terms of rehab and medications with your doctor and loved ones ahead of time will take some of the pressure off once you get home.
Make a post-surgical plan for the rest of your life.
Rehabilitation is just one element of the post-surgical recovery plan. Who does the cooking in your household? How about the grocery shopping, yard work, house cleaning, and child wrangling? While many of today’s minimally invasive procedures can have patients up and running within a matter of days or weeks—some are outpatient procedures that allow patients to walk right out after after a short surgical procedure—you may need some help managing responsibilities once you get home. Having a plan in place before your surgery is key.
“DO get your family involved,” said WebMD. “It can take weeks, and even months, to recover after back surgery. Your loved ones should know that. They should be prepared to help you, especially the week after.”
If you’re tired of suffering and want to explore treatments that could put an end to your back pain for good, contact DISC Spine Institute, experts in minimally invasive treatments, the most effective medical procedures to treat and eliminate chronic back pain. Spine surgery is easier than ever, with minimally invasive treatments that mean short hospital stays, and shorter recoveries.