How to Prepare for Back Surgery

How to Prepare for Back Surgery

Posted on April 11th, 2018

Understanding Your Role in Your Recovery


Undergoing back surgery is a life-changing event. Although surgery provides relief for many patients, proper preparation plays a huge role in your operation’s success and the healing process. Getting ready is essential, and these tips could help you figure out what you need to do.


Your Environment

It’s not enough to just prepare your body and mind for surgery. Be certain to consider whether your home layout or workplace is set up so that you can get around and take care of yourself easily throughout your recovery. Since you could face temporary limited mobility or pain, it’s important to prepare a proper restful environment beforehand. In addition to ensuring that the things you need are easy to reach without bending, you should take precautions to eliminate slipping hazards.


This doesn’t mean that you should lay down the entire time after surgery. Your doctor or physical therapist will help you figure out a schedule for gradually resuming activity. If the surgeon recommends that you use medical equipment, such as canes, braces, walkers, or grabbers, having these items easily accessible after you return from the hospital will help.


Your Habits

What you do before surgery affects your recovery rate. Although most people know that smoking is unhealthy, the nicotine in tobacco can actually interfere with the process of spinal fusion and increase your chances of complications or infections. The sooner you give up tobacco products before surgery, the better.


Ideally, you should give up tobacco use three months before surgery, and not use tobacco again until three months after. You should also know that using nicotine can make your pain feel more severe.


Do you use medications, herbal supplements or vitamins? You may have to stop taking everything from vitamin E and garlic to insulin, aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, or NSAIDs. Your surgeon will review your medical record and let you know what needs to change and when.


Right Before and After Surgery

Every operation has different requirements. For instance, you’ll be prohibited from wearing jewelry, lotion or makeup on the day of surgery. You may be allowed to take some of your current medications with a little bit of water in the morning even though you’ll have to stop eating and drinking after midnight the night prior to surgery. You also won’t be allowed to drive yourself home, so you should arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery. You may have to remain in the hospital after the procedure until your vital signs are healthy and you can demonstrate your ability to walk and move.


Your operation will be unique, so one of the most important preparatory steps is talking to your surgeon. Providers walk patients through the entire process from before their procedures. Your surgeon can offer critical insights that make it much easier to get through surgery safely and heal successfully.

To learn more about what to expect before back surgery, just visit the Center for Disease and Surgery of the Spine online.