Avoiding Psychological Trauma After Spinal Fusion

Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: October 25, 2016

Psychological Trauma After Spine Fusion

The ultimate goal of surgery is to help a person regain function and mobility, but sometimes this process is slow or the surgery doesn’t lead to the intended results. This can take a significant toll on our body, but also on our mind. Today, we take a closer look at emotional trauma after a spinal operation, and how you can help prevent negative emotions from settling in.

PTSD After Spinal Fusion

A study at the Oregon Health and Science University revealed that nearly 20 percent of patients who underwent spinal fusion developed a mild form of post-traumatic stress disorder after their operation. PTSD is commonly associated with service members and individuals who go through a traumatic experience like a car accident, but surgery can also be a traumatic experience for some people. Researchers uncovered that individuals with mental disorders like anxiety or depression were more likely to express symptoms of PTSD after elective spinal fusion, but some patients with no history of mental disorders also expressed symptoms.

Preventing PTSD After Spinal Surgery

The study shines an interesting light on the emotional scars left after a significant operation like spinal fusion. However, it also gives us an idea of ways we can help prevent PTSD and other psychological damage from occurring. Here are some tips for preventing PTSD after spine surgery:

  • Pre-Surgery Screenings – Researchers found that people with preexisting mental health conditions were at higher risk for PTSD after surgery, so screening patients can help them get mental health treatment prior to surgery.
  • Pre-Surgical Treatment – As we mentioned above, if you can help get mental health conditions managed before surgery, you can reduce the risk of an issue after surgery.
  • Learn About The Surgery – Studies have found that the more a patient knows about his or her operation, the better the outcomes are. Learn about your procedure and recovery before you go under the knife.
  • Manage Expectations – Spinal fusion can help you regain some mobility, but you’re still going to have some limitations. If you expect to have a very high quality of life after surgery, and you don’t meet those expectations, that can take a significant toll on your psyche.
  • Surround Yourself With Support – Odds are friends and family will be more than happy to help you out after your surgery. Take them up on their offers to come over or to cook a meal. You’ll find it easier to have better mental health if you have a supporting cast to help you during your recovery.

If you’re worried about how your mental health may be affected after surgery, or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more information.

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