Being told that you need spine surgery can be alarming, even if you’ve been living with chronic back or neck pain for some time. One of the most unsettling things about needing spine surgery is being unfamiliar with the process. It’s ok, though, because we are familiar with the best practices to achieve the best possible outcomes. We also have a postoperative perspective that is shared with us from previous patients. Here, we’ll share this perspective with you.
What You Should Know Before Spine Surgery
The following are a few of the things that are helpful to know early in the treatment process, from the perspective of previous patients.
- Find a surgeon you feel comfortable with. Studies have shown that, even if a patient has a lot of trust in the training and experience of a doctor, their outcomes may not be as good as patients who both trust and feel comfortable with their provider. The ideal surgeon to perform your spine surgery is one who is very familiar with your condition and the procedure it requires and who also sets your mind at ease with their compassionate demeanor.
- Understand your condition and the recommended surgery. It’s perfectly normal to have some reservations about spine surgery. One of the best ways to manage them is to learn about the condition, procedure, and general outcomes. The surgeon is an excellent resource to get answers to your questions.
- Know there will be pain. Inevitably, there is pain after a surgical procedure. That said, there are a variety of pain-management strategies that your surgeon will discuss with you. Patients typically rely on prescription pain medication for several days after surgery, and are encouraged to take it as prescribed even if they “feel fine.” Within a few weeks, they may be ready to switch to an over-the-counter medication. This should not be rushed. Postoperative pain causes stress that could elongate the recovery process.
- Know there will be work. Spine surgery is not a magic bullet to complete recovery from a spine condition. After surgery, it is necessary to complete the advised rehabilitation program to enjoy the best outcome. This typically involves physical therapy that strengthens muscles and improves flexibility for proper spinal function.
Of all the messages you may need from people who have had spine surgery, the most welcome one may be this: it will be worth it. The surgical procedure can feel daunting and long once you’ve begun. However, every step of the process is done to ensure the best possible recovery. Learn more about spine surgery. Contact Princeton Neurological Surgery at (609) 890-3400.