Patients are advised to look for possible signs of infection and be cautious with returning to normal activities following spine surgery. However, many patients are not warned about the possibility of post-traumatic stress disorder. According to a recent study, nearly one in five patients has issues with PTSD at some point after their operation. Results like this suggest mental health issues should also be considered as patients recover from spine surgery. Here are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of post-surgery PTSD.
Undergo a Mental Health Screening Prior to Surgery
There is no requirement to have a mental health evaluation prior to spine surgery. However, if you are noticing signs you may have an undiagnosed issue, consider having a mental health assessment before you have surgery. Your Beverly Hills spine surgeon may be able to recommend some resources. Look for warning signs of anxiety or depression such as:
- Unfounded worries or feelings of hopelessness
- Unexplained changes in mood
- Sudden mood swings or irritability
- Changes in normal sleep and eating habits
- Noticeable lack of energy
Learn More About Your Procedure and Recovery
Authors of the study noted some patients may benefit from getting as much information as possible about their procedure before it takes place. The reasoning is that knowing what to expect during and after spine surgery may reduce some of the anxiety and stress that sometimes goes along with having an operation.
Getting as much info about your surgery in advance may ease your fears and prepare yourself mentally for recovery. However, some people become more anxious if they get too much detailed medical info. If this applies to you, avoid specifics about the procedure itself, and focus on what you’ll need to do during recovery to ease concerns you have about returning to work or getting back to your favorite activities.
Release “Feel-Good” Hormones with Exercise
Having issues with PTSD doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to become dependent on medication. Exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural “feel-good” hormones, which can have a positive effect on your mood. You won’t be able to have an intense workout during your initial recovery period from spine surgery, but gentle activities such as water-based exercise or casual walking can produce similar results.
Find Pleasing Mental Distractions
Constantly thinking about how your recovery is progressing may make preexisting issues you have with anxiety seem worse. One way to avoid overstressing during recovery is with cognitive behavioral therapy, which involves identifying negative thought triggers and using positive thoughts to counter them. Some patients also benefit from mental distractions such as:
- Listening to favorite music
- Meditating to avoid being overly reactive or overwhelmed by everyday circumstances
- Making plans with friends to have something to look forward to
Commonly associated with returning military vets, PTSD is a little different for spine surgery patients. It’s usually not related to the surgery itself. For instance, if your spine was injured in a car accident, you may become anxious when riding in a car after surgery. It’s also possible that depression or other mental health conditions existing prior to surgery were never properly diagnosed or treated. By taking time to talk to your doctor and learn if you are mentally prepared for spine surgery, you may ultimately enjoy a more productive recovery.
Different types of spine surgery may require different methods of recovery. At The Spine Institute Center, we specialize in fusion and non-fusion procedures such as artificial disc replacement and cervical foraminotomy surgery. Beverly Hills patients can rely on Dr. Hyun Bae and his team of expert surgeons to diagnose the source of their pain and help them find an effective solution for relief. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an appointment.