Southwest Florida Neurosurgical Associates


Prepare for Surgery With These Tips

The pain in your back or neck has become unbearable, so it’s time to visit the doctor and undergo corrective surgery. You can’t wait to live free of pain and to know that your body is strong again. But you also know that recovering from the surgery may take some time and lots of help from your doctors.

You will recover faster from your surgery if you have prepared your body for the procedure. You can take several steps both before and after the surgery to ensure that your body heals correctly and quickly. Start preparing now with the tips below.

Months Beforehand

If you know that you’re going to have surgery to relieve back or neck pain, but you have quite a bit of time to prepare (as in, a month or more), start with some lifestyle changes. You want to improve your overall health, but you don’t want to exacerbate the problem by exercising heavily. The below tips will help you gently strengthen your body so your body is healthy for the surgery.

Improve your eating habits. The nutrition you put into your body makes a big difference in the way you’ll recover after surgery. Your surgeon will help you identify a diet that will prepare your body for the surgery, and you should definitely seek his or her advice before dramatically changing your diet.

That said, your body instinctively knows what food is good for it. If you’re eating lots of greasy, fatty, or sugary foods, you’re filling your body with empty nutrients that won’t help come recovery time. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy carbs so you feel healthy and fit.

Do plenty of aerobic exercise. Gentle aerobic exercise strengthens your lungs—and it’s important to have strong lungs after a surgery. If you’ve been given anesthesia, tiny air sacs in your lungs could collapse and cause atelectasis, which leads to pneumonia and high fevers. Of course, if your lungs are healthy and strong, the chances of you experiencing atelectasis decrease significantly.

Aerobic exercise also strengthens muscles and improves your overall health. Walk, bicycle, or swim unless the pain in your neck or back prevents you from that kind of mobility. Consult with your surgeon to learn what he or she recommends you do to strengthen your body for the surgery.

Quit smoking. Nicotine slows healing, both when you’ve inhaled it into your lungs and when your body is surrounded by the smoke. Your blood vessels restrict when you smoke, which decreases the amount of oxygen-rich blood that your body’s wounds need to recover, and the toxins in the smoke don’t help much either.

You’ve got every reason to quit smoking anyway, so stop now and watch how much speedier your recovery becomes.

A Few Days Beforehand

Your surgeon will give you very specific, individualized instructions on what to do a few days and a few hours before your surgery. You should always follow your surgeon’s instructions as precisely as possible.

Note these general recommendations that your surgeon may ask you to do before surgery:

  • Don’t drink or eat anything for 12 hours before the procedure.
  • Notify your surgeon of any changes in health (including a cold) you experience before the surgery. If you suspect that you may be pregnant, inform your surgeon immediately.
  • Bring pertinent paperwork with you, including any lab work or tests, insurance, and a form of identification.
  • Bring a responsible adult with you to drive you home or stay with you after the procedure.
  • Take any medicine as prescribed by your surgeon.

Remember, if something in this list contradicts what your surgeon has told you, follow your surgeon’s instructions. Your doctor understands your body and its needs, and he or she will help you personally prepare. If you have any questions, contact your neck and back surgeon.

After the Surgery

Following your successful surgery, you’ll need time to rest and recover. You may be in a hurry to get back to normal life, but remember, your body needs to take it easy so you don’t experience more pain later. Consider these ideas that can help you recover quickly.

Follow your surgeon’s instructions. If your surgeon says to stay in bed and rest, do it. Your doctor knows how bodies can become damaged again after surgery, and his or her goal is to avoid damage. The instructions you are given will help you heal, and disobeying orders from your doctor or nurse is gambling with your health.

Don’t skip follow-up appointments. After you’ve healed a bit, you may be experiencing much less pain than you previously did. In fact, you may not feel any pain at all. However, you don’t have any reason to skip a follow-up appointment, which is important to ensure that your body is healing correctly.

Ask for help. If you feel pain after the surgery, don’t risk your health and try to do everything yourself. Ask for help from loved ones, your nurse, and your surgeon. Don’t risk your health just because you want to be independent.


As you prepare for surgery, rest assured that your surgeon will do everything in his or her power to ensure that the surgery goes well and that you can live pain-free. Contact your surgeon with any questions.

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