Even the smallest of surgeries can leave you feeling anxious, and the prospect of feeling stress is only amplified if your surgery is on a crucial area of your body, like your heart, brain or spine. While we don’t handle heart surgeries at our clinic, we do perform complex spine and brain surgeries every day, so we are pretty familiar with the patient experience.
Many of these patients are anxious in the days leading up to their surgery, and we’ve found that anxiety only works to hinder recovery ability. While that may sound concerning, the good news is that preoperative anxiety and stress can be controlled and managed if you take a few simple steps. We share some tips for controlling anxiety before brain or spine surgery in today’s blog.
Preventing Pre-Surgery Anxiety
In our experience, much of a patient’s pre-operative stress revolves around their inability to control the outcome of their surgery. While it’s true that a large portion of the surgery’s initial success is in the hands of the surgeon, making a full recovery will ultimately depend on how the patient progresses through their rehabilitation, and many of these factors are controllable. You control things like your activity levels, whether or not you participate in post-op physical therapy and your diet, and all of these factor heavily into your long term health outcomes. Don’t be stressed that the operation feels out of your control, because you will play a significant role in your recovery, so focus on controlling what you can control.
Another big reason that many people feel stressed before their spine or brain surgery is because they tend to focus on the wrong side of the “What If” conversation. What we mean by this is they focus their attention on things like “What if surgery doesn’t fix my pain?” or “What If something goes wrong during the operation?” Instead, because surgeries have such a high rate of success when performed by a qualified neurosurgeon, we tell our patients to focus on all the positives that will come into their life assuming everything goes as it should. Maybe you’ll be able to resume sporting activities you once loved, or maybe you’ll simply gain more independence and an improved quality of life. Instead of focusing on what could happen if something goes wrong, focus on what improvements you’re likely to see assuming everything goes as planned.
Lastly, one way we work with our patients to help calm pre-surgical anxiety is through education and expectation management. We discuss everything that will happen on the day of surgery so that the fear of the unknown is out of the equation. We also talk about realistic goal setting and how rehab will progress so there isn’t any anxiety over what the next steps will be after surgery. When everyone is on the same page, we find that anxiety levels drop significantly.
One final way to reduce anxiety before surgery is by trusting your operation to a highly skilled surgeon like Dr. Chang. To learn more about his background or to schedule a consultation to talk about your options, reach out to his clinic today.