Questions to ask before undergoing back surgery

Steps to take for successful surgery

HOUSTON – The single leading cause of disability worldwide and one of the most common reasons for missed work is back pain.

It's estimated that 31 million Americans are feeling it at any given time, and every year more than 700,000 people turn to surgery when medication and physical therapy fail.

When surgery has become the only option to get relief, one of the first things someone should do is put his or her doctor to the test with three questions. Are you board-certified to perform spine surgery? How many of these procedures have you performed?

"Another question is: 'Can I talk to some of your former patients or current patients that have undergone this procedure?'" Dr. Rad Payman suggested.

Payman explained training before a surgery will speed recovery, just as training for a marathon does.

"Even if that's swimming or using a recumbent bike, or just stretching or doing yoga, that helps," Payman said.

Also, consider your diet. Load up on protein to provide the amino acids to strengthen your back muscles. Use omega-3 as an anti-inflammatory and remember that vitamin C is essential for collagen healing.

Also, avoid refined sugars. The amount of sugar in a 12-ounce can of soda has been shown to suppress your immune system for up to two days. Limit coffee, alcohol and soda, which can dehydrate you, and stay away from ibuprofen and aspirin, which can slow healing.

Recovering from back surgery can take anywhere from six weeks to six months, but the sooner you can start walking, and keep walking for exercise, the faster you’ll heal.

Post-surgery, look for signs of blood clots or infections. These complications are most likely to occur during the first few weeks after surgery and include swelling in the calf, ankle or foot, and tenderness or redness, which may extend above or below the knee.

Occasionally, a blood clot will travel through the bloodstream and may settle in your lungs. If this happens, you may experience a sudden chest pain and shortness of breath or cough.

AFTER SURGERY: After spine surgery, one should do the following:
-Avoid smoking.
-Avoid drinking excess alcohol.
-Avoid refined sugars in your diet.
-Avoid sitting for long periods of time.
-Use ergonomic chairs or anything that will give you good back support.
-Eat nutritionally in order to achieve a healthy weight.
-Drink plenty of water.
-Get enough continuous sleep.

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