The most common type of spine surgery performed today, spinal fusion is done by combining two or more spinal bones with graft material and specially designed hardware. Fusion is likely to be recommended if your spine is unstable, as may be the case if a damaged disc has to be fully or partially removed. While any type of surgery is often a last resort for back pain patients, there are times when it’s the best option available. If this is what applies to you at the moment, here are five ways you can prepare for spinal fusion surgery.
1. Get Started with Rehab before Surgery
Referred to as “pre-hab,” rehab-like efforts before surgery are meant to help prepare spine-supporting muscles for the added strain and stress that goes along with a fusion procedure. What’s more, if you get started with such efforts prior to your operation, you’ll have a better idea of what you’ll need to do during the recovery period.
2. Have a Medication Management Plan
Prior to spinal fusion surgery, let your surgeon or designated contact person know what medications you’re already taking. The reason for doing so is to avoid potential issues with anesthesia and possible drug interactions with medications you’ll need to take post-surgery. It can also be helpful to have your post-surgery meds ordered ahead of time so you can pick them up before you have your operation. This will give you one less thing to worry about when you return home.
3. Make Healthier Food Choices
If you’re not doing so already, make healthier food choices before fusion surgery. Any type of surgery is going to be stressful on the body and require tissues to heal. By eating foods that give you plenty of healthy nutrients, you’ll be helping your body’s internal systems manage inflammation and promote rapid tissue healing.
Pay particular attention to foods that tend to naturally ease inflammation, which is a common issue post-surgery during the healing process.
Foods on this list include:
• Spinach, kale, collards, and other leafy greens
• Sardines, salmon, and other fatty fish
• Olive oil
• Strawberries, blueberries, and other colorful fruits
• Almonds and walnuts
4. Stop Smoking
Smoking can be problematic for spinal fusion patients because it restricts blood flow. Reduced circulation, in turn, slows down the healing and recovery process. Smoking can also damage spinal discs and increase your odds of possibly needing another fusion procedure later in a different part of your spine.
5. Get Things Ready at Home
Lastly, do your best to get things ready at home before your fusion surgery takes place. This can involve talking to family members and other friends and loved ones to arrange for some help with more demanding tasks like grocery shopping and yard work ahead of time. Getting things ready on your end at home can also mean:
• Preparing some meals you can freeze and easily heat up
• Setting up a sleep area on the first floor, since getting upstairs may be difficult post-surgery
• Arranging for a ride to and from the hospital and rides to any follow-up appointments
In addition to what has already been mentioned above, another thing you can do prior to spinal fusion surgery is talk to you surgeon if you have any questions or concerns. The more confident and comfortable you are going into surgery, the more likely it is you’ll be satisfied with the results once you recovery and get back to your regular routine.