Chronic back pain can have a detrimental effect on quality of life. Usually, people who are struggling with back pain rely on conservative remedies like rest and anti-inflammatory medication to control discomfort. When these measures do not provide an adequate level of relief, it may be a good idea to explore the potential benefits of surgery. Before we discuss the patient’s role in the success of spinal surgery, we want to make it clear that scheduling a consultation with a back specialist does not mean you will need surgery. Spinal surgeons understand the value of avoiding surgery when possible and only recommend surgical intervention when all other efforts to manage comfort have failed. Should you need surgery, we want you to get the best results possible. Here are a few ways this can be achieved.
Making Your Spinal Surgery a Success
- Diet and Exercise. There is a lot of benefit in attending to weight and general fitness before undergoing any surgical procedure. This is especially relevant for procedures that address structural damage, as most spinal surgeries do. Even before surgery is scheduled, patients are encouraged to focus on nutrition and movement that will help strengthen muscles, support flexibility, and reduce weight if necessary.
- Select a Surgeon. No patient is under any obligation to select the first surgeon they consult for back surgery. It is important to have a sense of comfort and confidence going in to back surgery. There are several ways to achieve this. One is to observe how you feel about your surgeon during your initial consultation. Another is to ask for patient references, educational background, and specific data related to the procedure you may need.
- Ask Questions. Patients need to remember that they are their own best advocates. Even if you like the first surgeon you meet, you can schedule a second opinion with another expert. The ultimate decision about spinal surgery is in your hands and the more questions you ask, the better you will feel about your choice.
- Commit to Rehabilitation. Patients who undergo spinal surgery are typically prescribed a rehabilitation program to help with their long-term recovery. It is important to look at rehab as an integral part of future spinal health. Without full commitment to this post-operative plan, there is a higher likelihood that lingering pain may develop. If you have questions about your rehabilitation program, talk to your physical therapist for clarification. They are there as a pillar of support to keep you motivated about optimal recovery.