Got a sore back? You’re not alone. Back pain is the most common chronic pain complaint in the United States. Millions of Americans suffer, and the drugstore shelves are filled with pain pills, patches, gels, ointments and heat treatments to prove it. For many, these remedies are enough. For others, physical therapy and a temporary course of stronger pain relief do the trick, but for an unfortunate few, the options are surgery or staying on narcotic pain relief for quite possibly the rest of their lives. Since narcotics carry a strong risk of dependency, it’s not really a good option. Surgery however, can be enormously effective. If your doctor has recommended spinal surgery for you, here are some things to consider.
First and most importantly, research. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions about your condition, the recommended surgery, and aftercare. Your doctor should be happy to answer them. If yours becomes irritated, evasive or impatient, find a new one! You should also feel free to get a second opinion. Make sure you’ve got a medical team on your side that believes in patient centered care and will make sure you are completely prepared for your procedure and for what to expect after spine surgery. You should go into your surgery relaxed and confident.
After surgery you’ll need help at home, so bring your caregiver along with you to your pre-surgical appointments so they can ask questions and be prepared as well. Some facilities have special classes for caregivers so they will know exact what to expect and how best to care for their patients. At some point in your recovery you’ll probably be referred for physical therapy. Exercise is crucial during the recovery process to prevent muscle atrophy and assist in healing, so be cooperative. Soon you’ll be feeling like a whole new person!