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Preparing for Back Surgery

Plan ahead for both your surgery and recovery. Be sure to follow any instructions you are given. And talk to your doctor if you have questions about surgery or how the procedure will be done.

Man placing nicotine patch on arm.
If you smoke, ask your doctor about stop-smoking aids, such as the nicotine patch.

 Planning Ahead

  • Stop smoking. Smoking makes it harder for bone to heal. Ask your doctor about quitting aids such as gum, patches, or medications.

  • Move household items you’ll need after surgery. Place them between hip and shoulder level. This keeps you from needing to lift or bend.

  • Arrange for rides. You may not be able to drive for a week or more after surgery. You may also need help with various chores and daily activities.

  • Get a pair of slip-on shoes with closed backs. That way, you don’t have to bend to put on shoes.

  • Talk with your doctor about storing your own blood for surgery. Rest assured that all donated blood is tested for diseases like HIV and hepatitis.

 Before Surgery

  • Tell your surgeon about all of the medications and supplements you take as well as your medical and surgical history.

  • Your surgeon may have you stop taking aspirin and ibuprofen 7 days before surgery. Ask if you should stop taking other medications, herbal remedies, or supplements.

  • Arrange for an adult family member or friend to drive you home.

  • Don’t eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery.

  • If you are told to take medication the day of surgery, swallow it with just a sip of water.

 The Day of Surgery

Arrive at the hospital on time. Before surgery, your blood pressure, temperature and other vital signs will be taken and you will talk with the anesthesiologist. You’ll be given an intravenous line (IV) to provide fluids. You may have a bladder catheter to help with urination. You may also get medication to help you relax. Just before surgery you’ll be given anesthesia (medication to prevent pain). Local or regional anesthesia numbs just the surgical area. General anesthesia lets you “sleep” during the operation. After surgery, you will move from the operating room to the recovery room to awaken from anesthesia. After you are awake, you will be moved to your hospital room.

Online Medical Reviewer: Hanrahan, John, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 9/2/2013
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