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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.

  • 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

  • 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 and temperature will be taken. You’ll be given an intravenous line (IV) to provide fluids. 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.

Online Medical Reviewer: Gilner, Leon I, MD, FACS
Online Medical Reviewer: Ma, C Benjamin, MD
Last Review Date: 3/21/2012
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.