How to Prepare for Spine Surgery

how to prepare for spine surgery

For a portion of the 16 million adults who experience chronic back pain in America, surgery ends up being the best option. While often a last resort, back surgery can help you return to your normal life and work. Surgery can restore a range of mobility, reduce pain, and greatly improve quality of life. However, it’s important to prepare properly for your surgery.

Prepare Your Home

You’re going to face even more limitation while you recover, our spine surgeons recommend a few tips:

  1. Make sure you are set up to sleep on the same floor as your bathroom.
  2. Check your house for trip hazards such as floor rugs, trailing wires, etc.
  3. If you live alone, consider asking a friend or relative to stay with you for at least a few days, or at least check in daily to make sure you’re okay. You may also want to have somebody care for your pets, especially rambunctious dogs.
  4. Make sure you have frozen gel packs to use for pain relief. Heating pads can also be useful.

Prepare Yourself

To make sure you get the best outcome, we also recommend these tips:

  1. Quit smoking. Smoking greatly increases your risk of complications, especially for fusion surgery.
  2. Check whether you need to stop taking any supplements or medications. Aspirin and fish oil can both act as blood thinners and make you bleed more, for example. Your surgeon will tell you whether and when you should stop taking them and when to start again. Definitely don’t take NSAIDs. Some diabetic medications should not be taken on the day of surgery.
  3. Make sure you have somebody who can take you to and from the hospital. You’re likely to be forbidden from driving for at least 2 weeks. Avoid planning any kind of extended trip during your recovery.
  4. Stay as physically active as you can. Keep doing your normal exercise right up to the surgery. This can lower your risk of circulation issues and helps you avoid putting on weight.
  5. Educate yourself so you can make an informed choice about the surgery, your surgeon, and the procedure.
  6. Don’t eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery, regardless of how late in the day it is.
  7. Leave all jewelry at home and don’t use makeup or lotion.

The most important thing is to check everything with your surgical team and follow their directions. They’re invested in your having the best outcome for your situation, and will tell you what kind of exercise to do and how to both prepare for, and recover from, surgery. For more information about back surgery and what to expect, speak to our spine surgeons.