Depression May Hinder Post-Surgery Recovery, Result in Poorer Outcomes

Depression Effects on Post Surgery Recovery in Los Angeles, CA

It’s understandable to be apprehensive going into any type of surgery. Yet maintaining a positive attitude could lead to a more productive recovery. This is the conclusion of a recent study that builds on previous research linking depression to back pain.

Spinal Stenosis Outcomes and Depression

Finland researchers evaluated about a hundred patients who had surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal, before and after their procedure. Based on self-reporting through the Oswestry Disability Index, a common diagnostic tool, it was determined that there was a correlation between poorer post-surgery outcomes and depression.

Spinal Fusion and PTSD

An Oregon study found that 1 in 5 patients who underwent lower back fusion surgery developed PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Often associated with returning military veterans, PTSD linked to spine surgery can include:

  • Irrational fears affecting recovery efforts
  • Increased social isolation
  • A diminished quality of life
  • A negative body image

Complicating Recovery

Regardless of the type of spine surgery, depression can complicate recovery. Patients with depression are less likely to take an active role in physical therapy sessions. They also tend not to report any renewed pain to their doctor. Patients with a history of depression are also less likely to maintain a proper diet and stick to an exercise routine, two important steps that can improve surgical outcomes.

Addressing Psychological Issues Before Surgery

Patients who have experienced a previous traumatic event or have a history of depression are more likely to have a negative experience with surgery. The good news is that identifying and treating psychological issues early can help patients become better prepared for their surgery. Being aware of existing depression can also help doctors determine whether or not spine surgery is appropriate. In some cases, post-surgery depression or PTSD can be minimized with:

  • Pre-surgery counseling or therapy
  • A detailed explanation of the procedure
  • Encouragement of questions

Research on the emotional impact of surgery emphasizes a need to consider both physical and psychological factors while preparing for an operation. With depression often linked to disappointment over immediate results, having realistic expectations going into surgery can also benefit patients.

To learn more about spine surgery or to find a trusted board-certified spine surgeon in Los Angeles, call The Spine Institute Center at (310) 828-7757 and request an in-person consultation today.