11 Spine Surgery Tips from our Readers' Surgeons

Kudos to the members of our vibrant Facebook community who are really doing their homework before choosing spine surgery!

Clearly, as evidenced by the numerous comments on our Spine-health Facebook page, patients are taking the decision to have spine surgery very seriously, and they’re not afraid to ask their surgeons hard questions.

See Guidelines for Evaluating a Spine Surgeon

Our readers share their best back surgery advice.
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We’ve covered many topics about spine surgery on our Facebook page, including:

Recently, I asked our community to share the #1 piece of advice that their surgeon gave them before surgery. Their answers may help you on your healing journey.

Veritas Health: What is the #1 piece of advice your spine surgeon shared with you before your surgery?

In no particular order, these were the most common pieces of advice passed on from our readers from their surgeons:

  1. Be patient. Recovery from spine fusion surgery is a slow process even when you are fit. Expect a full recovery to take 1 to 2 years. Another person’s surgeon advised them not to work for 1 year post fusion surgery.

  2. See Spinal Fusion Surgery Recovery: Three Months and After

  3. Keep walking. 1 person’s surgeon advised them to work up to walking 1 mile a day, and another person’s surgeon suggested they get up and walk every 20 minutes.

  4. See Rehabilitation Following Lumbar Fusion

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  1. No bending, lifting, or twisting until your fusion is healed. This can be especially difficult to follow if you have young children, so it’s something to think about and plan for before surgery.

  2. Engage in gentle stretching exercises. Very gentle stretching of the core back and abdominal muscles, will help keep you from getting stiff. Also stretch the hip muscles attached to the spine and pelvis. Make sure you are very careful with any type of exercise, and follow the advice of your physical therapist.

  3. See How a Physical Therapist Can Help with Exercise

  4. Get a 2nd opinion. Just remember, the 2nd opinion is not always the better opinion. Your natural tendency may be to give more credit to your second doctor. For help evaluating surgeons, see Specific Questions to Ask Your Spine Surgeon.

  5. See How to Select a Spine Surgeon

  6. Quit smoking. Smoking can inhibit bone growth, making it difficult, if not impossible, for your fusion to heal properly.

  7. See Quitting Smoking Before a Spinal Fusion

  8. Listen to your body and try to stay ahead of the pain. You may be tempted to wean yourself off of your pain medication early. However, being in pain can slow down your recovery time, and just make you more miserable. Talk to your doctor about a reasonable pain medication plan that balances your pain needs with any concerns you may have about becoming addicted or other side effects of your medicine.

  9. See Narcotic Pain Medications

  10. Get in shape and lose some weight. This is common sense, but it bears repeating: The healthier you are going into surgery, the better your recovery will be.

  11. See Nutrition and Diet for Weight Loss

  12. Eat lots of protein. Protein is the building blocks of our muscle, tendons, bones, and ligaments, and it helps maintain a strong immune system. Make a conscious choice to eat quality sources of protein with every meal.

  13. Have a positive attitude. We also believe that the more you know about your condition, the better prepared you will be to make the right decision and get the best outcome.

  14. See How to Prepare Psychologically for Back Surgery

  15. Do a mental health check. If you are experiencing any mental illnesses like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) it is critically important that you discuss your surgery options with a psychologist. Some studies have shown that mentally vulnerable patients are more likely to suffer PTSD after their spine fusion surgery.

I hope these tips from our readers’ surgeons will help you as you consider your surgical options. To see the original Facebook post, click here:

What's the #1 piece of advice your surgeon gave you before your spine fusion surgery?

Posted by Spine-health on Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Learn more:

Preoperative Preparation for Spine Fusion Surgery

Lumbar Spine Surgery

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