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Do you know what questions to ask before back surgery? If your doctor has recommended a procedure, you’d do well to understand thoroughly what the recommendation is, why they have made it, and what you should expect. 

While your doctor will provide you with preoperative and postoperative instructions, and while those should cover many of the concerns you may have, we recommend putting together a written list of questions to ask your doctor before back surgery at your preoperative consultation.

A quick Google search will give you tons of “40 questions to ask your surgeon before back surgery” results, but really, these 10 are all you’ll really need. While you want to be thorough with your questions, a list of dozens may get in the way of you listening and mining each individual question.

If you are concerned about how your doctor will respond to your questions, that may be a red flag of its own. At Desert Spine and Scoliosis Center, Dr. Baig considers this part of the surgical process to be vital in empowering the patient to be educated about their procedure and what to expect. 

To help you prepare your own list of questions to ask before getting back surgery, we’ve categorized 10 that we consider most helpful. 

Medical Questions

This group are questions related to your medical care but are less complicated than whether you should seek a second opinion. 

1. Are you sure this procedure is the best option? Why do you feel this way? 

Ask your surgeon to explain their thinking on your condition and why they think that this surgical option is best. Have they tried alternatives to surgery?

2. What should I expect from the surgical procedure?

Ask about the procedure itself. Is it minimally invasive, or open? How big will the incision be?

3. Will this be an inpatient or outpatient procedure?

Ask about your hospital stay. What should you expect directly before and after the procedure?

4. How should I plan to control pain?

Ask detailed questions about pain relief and the types of pain medications that they will recommend for the recovery period. Inquire about side effects and any risks associated with long-term use.

Nutrition Questions

This group involves questions about how to prepare your body for surgery and recovery. This is an important set of questions to ask your surgeon before spine surgery, and some of their answers may surprise you. Dr. Baig, for example, suggests that patients get on a high-protein diet, as 100g of protein daily promotes optimal wound healing.

5. What can I eat?

Find out how many vegetables, starches, or proteins your spine surgeon recommends both before and after your procedure. Ask about fluids, as well, and adjust as recommended.

6. What foods should I avoid?

Are there foods your surgeon recommends you avoid? Ask about sugars and processed foods, or anything that your doctor thinks might impede healing.

Hygiene Questions

A patient and doctor discuss questions

Make sure you have a few questions about how to take care of your body both before and after your procedure. The answers may vary based on the type of surgery.

7. When can I shower?

Depending on the type of surgery and your spinal conditions, you will need to know when, and how, to bathe. Will you need sponge baths for a few days?

8. How should I care for the incision site?

Get detailed wound care instructions. Will there be sutures? Will you need to clean and dress the wound?

Daily Life Questions

And finally, ask about the impact of spinal surgery on your daily life. 

9. How long after the procedure should I wait to drive?

With some procedures, you may be able to drive in a few days, while others may demand more time. This can be especially true for those who are prescribed narcotics for pain management. Make sure you know how long you’ll need help getting around.

10. When can I return to work?

This is a crucial question for many patients. Johns Hopkins says that surgery patients should “ask about the typical length of time it takes for a full recovery to resume work and your everyday activities.”
Book a consultation with Desert Spine and Scoliosis Center today!