Spine surgery can take a toll on more than just your body. There are also some emotional issues that can affect recovery. While how well your muscles, joints, and bones are healing can be carefully monitored, and rehab can be planned with your physical needs in mind, emotional trauma related to surgery isn’t as easy to detect and assess, especially since it’s highly subjective and not something that’s visible on any image test. However, it’s not something you should overlook. Here are five ways you can maintain your emotional wellbeing after spine surgery.
1. Say Something to Your Doctor
The only way your doctor is going to know something is bothering you emotionally is if you say something. It’s perfectly normal to be frustrated over a slower than expected rehab progress or an inability to get back to work as quickly as you’d prefer. Take time to discuss such concerns with your doctor or a Beverly Hills spine surgeon. He or she may be able to:
- Make adjustments to your rehab/physical therapy routine
- Suggest appropriate medications to alleviate your stress or anxiety
- Refer you to a behavioral specialist who can suggest effective coping techniques
2. Confide in a Trusted Friend or Family Member
Avoid keeping your feelings bottled up. While you can seek help online, you’re likely to get an assortment of conflicting advice that could make things worse, or at least more confusing. Instead, turn to a trusted friend or family member for support. Not only will you feel better by discussing your frustrations, you’re also likely to appreciate receiving support and reassurance.
3. Keep a Daily Journal
If you don’t feel comfortable turning to a friend or family member, consider keeping a diary or journal as you go through your recovery period. Writing allows you to vent in a more private manner. You can also use your journal to track your progress, which may ease some of your concerns since it’s easier to see improvements when everything is written down. Also, consider using your journal to set smaller, achievable goals you can cross off as you advance through recovery.
4. Join a Support Group
It may help to talk to other people who have gone through the same experience with spine surgery. There are plenty of options online that may be beneficial. Another possibility is to ask your doctor if he or she is aware of any local support groups for spine surgery patients. Some larger hospitals or medical centers have such groups on-site or in adjacent facilities for recovering patients.
5. Get Your Endorphins Flowing
Believe it or not, exercise is an excellent mood stabilizer. Even something as casual as going for a walk can trigger the release of endorphins, which are hormones produced within the brain and nervous system that naturally boost mood. They also work on opiate receptors and have an analgesic effect similar to some pain relievers. As your recovery progresses, find ways to get regular exercise (with doctor approval). Consider these suggestions:
- Take daily walks
- Use an elliptical machine or stationary bike
- Explore less-demanding forms of exercise such as water aerobics or yoga
Much like emotional health is best handled by professionals, so is spinal surgery. At The Spine Institute, we specialize in a wide array of procedures, including artificial disc replacement and laminectomy back surgery. Beverly Hills patients who are seeking effective pain relief can call 310-828-7757 to schedule an in-person evaluation.