Whether you’re scheduled for surgery, or are still seeking out a provider, it’s always the right time to think about how you can best set yourself up for a successful outcome. Whether that’s ahead of surgery, or putting your best foot forward during recovery.
Below, we’ll run through some of the most important items to consider before your spine surgery takes place.
What Should I Do Before Surgery?
Depending on your circumstance, and the surgery required, your doctor will give you specific instructions on what to do ahead of your surgery.
Typically, they will include the following.
- Undergo any necessary blood tests and physical exams, to prepare for anesthesia.
- Avoid drinking and eating, up to twelve hours before the surgery.
- Bathing or otherwise cleaning the area for operation – you may also be instructed to shave the area.
These procedures are put into place to ensure proper hygiene and cleanliness at the site of surgery, alongside the effectiveness of the anesthesia or pain management used during surgery. But there’s more that you should consider ahead of surgery, aside from the practical instructions provided by the doctor. And that is the prep for the weeks immediately after.
While your recovery may not be extreme, depending on the surgery, you will need a ride home. And it can make life easier for yourself if you have meals prepared and frozen, and time off of work to give yourself the opportunity to focus on healing.
What Should You Expect On The Day Of Surgery?
Heading into your surgery day, it’s normal to be nervous. That’s why your clinical team is here – to help ensure you feel comfortable, and understand the details of your needs. As soon as you check in, your experience will start with a nurse conducting a pre-operative assessment that includes taking your vital signs, and starting an IV if necessary.
You then will meet with the anesthesia provider to review all pre-operative information and discuss your anesthesia needs, and wants. During all of this time, we’ll do our best to keep your family in the waiting room well informed. You then will meet with your doctor, and discuss any questions you may have ahead of the procedure.
As far as when to arrive, this will depend on the hospital you go to – and you’ll be given these details via a phone call or email ahead of your surgery date.
What Your Recovery Will Look Like
Of course, the exact details and length of your recovery will depend on the surgery performed and the severity of your condition. But there will be commonalities, and knowing them means that you can understand how to properly prepare for them.
One major item that will impact your recovery is whether your surgery will be outpatient or inpatient – meaning whether you will be admitted to a hospital for any overnight stay, or not. Outpatient surgeries are becoming more and more common, accounting for almost 70% of surgeries, and typically have you home an hour or two after the surgery.
Regardless of the type of surgery, you likely also will be limited in your range of motion and abilities. But again, you’ll be provided with a specific list of actions to avoid – typically including stairs, heavy lifting and bending.
Is Lingering Pain Normal?
With any form of surgery, there’s likely to be some form of lingering pain as your recovery takes place. This can be nerve wracking, especially if you’ve undergone surgery to help mitigate your pain in the first place – but it doesn’t mean that the surgery has failed. The pain should ease off in the weeks following, and can be managed with proper pain relief once disclosed to your doctor.
If you experience severe or debilitating pain, that doesn’t go away within a few days of surgery, then you should seek immediate medical care. While it’s very unlikely, it’s always possible that surgery can disrupt or damage nerves and tissue, causing secondary pain.