3 Steps to Psychologically Prepare for Back Surgery

If you’re having major back surgery, it’s vital that you are psychologically and emotionally prepared for the procedure and the expected recovery.

Clinical research shows that those who are psychologically ready to undergo this type of significant medical intervention experience:

  • Less anxiety and emotional distress
  • Fewer complications
  • Less need for anesthesia and pain medication
  • Increased satisfaction with treatment
  • Faster recovery and return to normal activities

Before scheduling a spinal surgery, take these three steps to ensure that you’ll be mentally healthy as your body heals.

Cognitive Behavioral Techniques

These mental exercises, known as cognitive behavioral therapy, can help decrease fear, anxiety, and pain both before and after the surgery. One technique to try includes identifying automatic negative thoughts, which include focusing on potential downsides of a situation and imagining the worst possible scenario, and replacing them with coping thoughts.

Positive thinking allows you to reframe your fears and worries by thinking about the reason you chose to have back surgery and the positive outcomes you expect to enjoy after recovery. When trying out this technique, think about these long-term results for back surgery.

Relaxation Exercises

A technique known as ‘relaxation response’ has been used since the 1970s before, during, and after surgery to control nausea, reduce pain, improve breathing, and increase immune system function to promote healing.

With this strategy, elements such as deep breathing, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation are used to counteract the body’s stress response. These actions can decrease heart rate and blood pressure, slow breathing, and reduce muscle tension. What’s more is that you can practice relaxation responses at home without training or costly equipment. For some more at home techniques that can be done before and after surgery, check out these back pain remedies.

Assertiveness Skills

Many patients feel anxious about their surgery and subsequent hospital stay because of the perceived lack of control. Learning to speak assertively and ask for what you need in a healthcare setting can not only reduce this anxiety but also improves the level of care you receive.

Strategies to increase your comfort in this scenario include coming prepared with a list of questions you want to ask the doctor, bringing along a friend or family member for emotional support, and role-playing the ability to express concerns openly to the providers caring for you while you’re in the hospital. If you aren’t sure about what kind of questions to ask your doctor, take a look at these questions to ask your spine doctor before surgery.

Any type of surgery can be nerve wracking. In order to have the best possible outcome for your back surgery, you must be psychologically prepared. Be assertive by asking for what you need, include some relaxation exercises to promote healing, and lastly, think positively. If you’re still unsure before scheduling your surgery, talk to the spine experts at Marc Cohen Spine Institute. Contact us if you have any questions or want a second opinion.