Prehabilitation for Disc Prolapse or Spinal Fusion Surgery
It is very normal to feel rather overwhelmed and anxious if your surgeon has recommended surgery for your back problem. The goal of spinal surgery is to relieve your pain, improve your range of movement and so allow you to return to the activities you love.
Written by Chartered Physiotherapist, Jill Drew
Medical Review by Medical Quality Officer, David Jones , MPharm
Published: Monday, 27 March 2023
It is very normal to feel rather overwhelmed and anxious if your surgeon has recommended surgery for your back problem. The goal of spinal surgery is to relieve your pain, improve your range of movement and so allow you to return to the activities you love. With a little preparation prior to the surgery, you can make a big impact on your recovery and so achieving the best results and outcome. Patients who are prepared well for surgery generally have easier recoveries, fewer complications and return to normal more quickly.
Prepare your body
- Try to stop smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, as this can affect the body’s ability to heal.
- Whilst reducing your weight is never easy, if you are able to lose a few kilos, it will take the pressure off your spinal joints and may also reduce your risk of developing post-op complications.
- Aim to remain as active as possible and try and have a short walk every day. You may wish to try gentle swimming if walking is too painful. Getting out into the daylight, especially in the morning, may also help you to sleep better.
- Consider taking Vitamin D, as this can help your bones and muscles heal.
- Doing some gentle mobility and strengthening exercises for the muscles around your spine and pelvis (commonly known as Core Exercises) will result in improved support in the affected area for a faster recovery and reduction in the risk of injury. Exercise may also help to relax stiff and tight muscles, which in turn can reduce pain. You may wish to ask your physiotherapist to prescribe a bespoke programme for you.
- It is definitely worth spending some time practising some relaxation, guided meditation and breathing techniques to aid pain control, and this may help to reduce your dependency on pain medication after your surgery.
Prepare your home and family.
You will be advised to avoid lifting and bending after the surgery as well as requiring some help with everyday tasks, housework etc. Knowing that you have a plan in place can help to reduce any anxiety.
- Make a list of things you will need help with, which may include childcare, walking the dog, shopping, gardening, housework and cooking. You may want to get ahead and fill the freezer.
- You will be advised not to drive for a period of time, so you may need to ask for help with transport.
- Organise your home to reduce the need to bend down or reach up. Keep everyday items at waist level, including phone chargers, TV remotes, toiletries and everyday items in the kitchen, such as mugs.
- Consider buying a non-slip mat for the shower.
Taking care of your body before your surgery will give you the foundations to ensure you have the best possible outcome.
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