By the time surgery is recommended, many people living with back pain have tried physical therapy and several other nonsurgical options. For this reason, it’s fairly common for patients to enjoy an improved quality of life after recovering from spine surgery. However, there are times when some patients are unhappy even after having spinal surgery that was considered successful. Researchers recently reviewed data from more than 30,000 patients to discover why this is sometimes the case. Here’s a look at the results.
Researchers asked patients to rate their level of discomfort, disability, and overall satisfaction before surgery and then a year later. It turns out psychological issues played a larger role than physical ones in post-surgery patient dissatisfaction. In fact, one of the study’s authors notes patients who reported moderate or extreme emotional distress prior to surgery were more likely to be dissatisfied with results a year later, even when they were still reporting clinical improvements in pain levels.
Some patients become anxious because of concerns about being able to return to work after spinal surgery. The ability to successfully do this will depend on the nature of the job. With more physically demanding occupations, it often takes longer to get back to work.
Patients may also be disappointed after spinal surgery if they’re unable to fully get back to preferred activities as soon as they want to. This is more likely to be the case for patients who step things up a bit too soon before being given the go-ahead by their Beverly Hills spine surgeon or physical therapist.
The bright spot in the study’s findings is that emotional and psychological factors are often more manageable than physical ones. This isn’t to say making appropriate lifestyle adjustments and ditching unhealthy habits like smoking prior to spinal surgery can’t still be helpful. However, a multidisciplinary approach to patient care in advance of surgery can give patients a chance to address both physical and psychological issues. This part of the preparation process could involve a routine physical and mental health evaluation or an assessment of mental preparedness for surgery. Taking such steps can allow doctors and specialists to make an effort to ease pre-surgery stress and anxiety.
While every situation is different, some patients who are excessively anxious about spine surgery may benefit from:
• Deep breathing and other relaxation techniques
• Pre-surgery yoga or other gentle forms of exercise that promote relaxation
• Support from family members and friends before and after surgery
The study’s co-author also points out it’s just as important to have realistic expectations going into spinal surgery. A good way to achieve this goal is to schedule a separate appointment prior to your procedure just to ask questions and voice concerns. Ultimately, the more confident, prepared, and informed you are going into surgery, the more likely you are to be pleased with the outcome.
For more information about how to address mental and emotional issues surrounding various types of spine surgery, from minimally invasive procedures to spinal fusion alternatives, Beverly Hills residents should get in touch with the spine specialists at The Spine Institute. Our industry-leading physicians can determine the best course of action to help you get back to your normal activities and enjoy a high quality of life. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an appointment