5 Tips to Prepare for Back Surgery

August 10, 2020
  • Author : Carolyn Mohsenzadeh

Chronic back pain afflicts approximately 65 million adults. Moreover, the prolonged COVID-19 lockdown increased this figure by an estimated 10–15%. As more people become inactive—or start exercise programs too aggressively—they run the risk of developing chronic back pain.

In the worst cases, back pain can lead to a chronic condition that requires invasive surgery to rectify.

Whether you’re scheduled for back surgery or in the midst of the diagnostic process, make sure you take proper preparations before your surgery.

Here are five tips that can help you prepare for back surgery for the following back conditions:

1. Prepare Yourself Psychologically to Prevent Anxiety

Back Surgery1The first step to having a smooth back surgery is to prepare yourself mentally. With the right mindset, you can ease anxiety, nervousness and apprehension. Having great support from friends and family can be a huge help too. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them for support, encouragement, inspiration, and motivation. Chances are, you know someone who has been through surgery so knowing what to expect can eliminate a lot of uncertainty.

The internet is a great resource to find information and support to make you feel more at ease. There are thousands of videos online from people who share their successful surgical experiences. Knowing that others have gone through what you’re going through can help you feel calm and mentally as well as emotionally ready to take this big step.

You can also find online communities of people who have undergone successful back surgeries on social media. Engage in conversations with them to ease preoperative anxiety and gain valuable insights into the procedure based on their experiences. They can be very helpful in helping you ask your surgeon the right questions to make you more comfortable.

2. Have In-Depth Conversations with Your Surgeon and Nurses

You should have many opportunities to talk with your neurosurgeon and nurses to have in-depth conversations about the procedure. Be prepared for these conversations by writing down your questions beforehand—don’t rely on your memory because it may fail you as you get more nervous.

In the conversations, take notes so that you can review them later.

Your neurosurgeon will provide you with a lot of information, but double-check it to make sure that you know all of the precautionary measures, preoperative steps, and operative proceedings. This information will help facilitate the process and make you feel more relaxed.

3. Pack Your Surgery Bag in Advance

Back Surgery2Whether you’re undergoing laminectomy, spinal fusion, foraminotomy, or disc replacement, prepare a surgery bag so that you’re not rushing around trying to gather last-minute items. Some procedures are more invasive and time-consuming than others, so pack accordingly. The point is to make the preoperative and postoperative stages easier and less anxious. Packing your bag is just one less thing to worry about.

We recommend packing slip-on shoes, soap, shampoo, toiletries, hand sanitizer, underwear, an extra pair of socks, a pillow/blanket, a change of clothes, your devices or something to read and anything else that may make you feel more comfortable.

Have everything packed and ready 15–20 hours in advance. This will prevent last-minute panic-stricken scrambling and packing that could make you more anxious.


Many patients undergoing outpatient back surgery don’t pack a bag and end up wishing they had later. No matter how short your stay in the hospital may be, packing essentials will make things easier on the big day.

4. Stop Smoking Long Before Surgery

You should stop smoking all together, but at least stop months prior to your surgery. Research indicates that nicotine increases the risk of postoperative complications because it delays bone healing and increases the risk of infections.

Let your surgeon know about your smoking habits in advance so that he can help you quit in adequate time before surgery. Quitting smoking helps ensure a seamless recovery with fewer complications.

5. Prepare for Postoperative Care and Lifestyle Changes

Back Surgery3While you may have prepared yourself for preoperative and operative care, planning ahead and familiarizing yourself with the postoperative stages is just as important.

Review the precautionary measures, post-surgery recuperation strategies, exercise plans, and lifestyle changes with your doctor.

If you’re unsure about anything, feel free to ask your surgeon. As your spinal column and back heal from the operation, abiding by the instructions provided by your surgeon is the key to healing. Recklessness could cause complications and delay your recovery.


As one of the leading back and spine clinic Houston, our team of top neurosurgeons provide cutting-edge back pain surgery. Schedule a consultation to start on the road to relief now. For more information, call 832-522-8500.