When your daily activities are interrupted by chronic back pain, your quality of life may eventually decline. Many people who experience frequent stiffness, aches, cramps, and other symptoms manage them with conservative strategies like anti-inflammatory medication and rest. For some time, these measures may work. If there is an untreated underlying condition causing discomfort, though, pain may recur or worsen. At some point, it may be beneficial to consider surgery.
If you are dealing with chronic back pain, keep in mind that a consultation with a spinal specialist does not guarantee that surgery is in your future. What a consultation can do is provide you and your specialist with the clear information needed to understand the source of pain. Once this data is obtained, an appropriate treatment plan can be developed. If surgery is a part of that treatment plan, you have an important role in its success. Here, we discuss what that is.
Successful Spinal Surgery Relies on Specific Steps
- Attending to weight and general fitness. It’s not like you need to be fit to undergo surgery. What this tip involves is committing to a healthy, nutritious diet that provides the body with the vitamins and minerals it can use to heal. If you are heavier than is ideal for your body frame, it is beneficial to lose weight before undergoing surgery that corrects structural damage to the spine. This will reduce the stress on joints and muscles during your recovery.
- Select your surgeon. With the exception of acute trauma, most people have the option of consulting with at least two different back specialists before deciding to undergo surgery. A spinal surgeon will not immediately recommend surgery. This specialist will conduct a thorough consultation and examination and will either order or review diagnostic imaging such as x-rays or MRI films. When you have time to make your decision, you have time to consider how comfortable you feel with a particular physician and meet with others so you have characteristics to compare.
- Ask questions. This step is encompassed in choosing a surgeon. However, it needs its own spotlight. Patients often put their care solely in the hands of their doctors. This can lead to unnecessary emotional stress when there may be questions that aren’t asked. Doctors generally like when their patients ask questions. This indicates that they are committed to doing what it takes to heal fully and successfully. Ask your doctor about their education and experience, yes, and also about any other aspects of surgery that concern you.
- Be committed to rehab. Most people who undergo a spinal procedure will need to follow up with physical therapy. This aspect of care is no less important than the surgery itself, and it requires a commitment to consistency. Physical therapy is not something that is done only in the rehab center, it is a series of exercises that patients are expected to also do on their own. The greater the commitment to rehab, the better the outcome of surgery.