By Dr Tony Setiobudi BMedSci, MBBS, MRCS, MMed (Ortho), FRCS (Ortho)

Suffering from chronic back pain for many years, I have tried everything that I could to alleviate the pain, from exercising to physiotherapy to taking medication. However, nothing works and the pain has gotten so bad that it affects my daily life, preventing me from carrying out basic tasks such as walking. I went to the doctor to seek help.

The doctor has recommended that I go for back surgery.

I was shocked. I am not ready to go for surgery. Worry, stress, panic-filled my mind, and I could not get a good night’s sleep.

This is what many people face when presented with the option of surgery, however, you are not alone! It is completely normal to feel anxious. But how can you deal with this situation? Here are some tips to help you better prepare for surgery.

First, Educate yourself.

An important step in dealing with surgical anxiety is to be as well informed as possible regarding your illness. Having a complete understanding of the procedure and why you need it and how it’s performed can alleviate some of your worries. Asking the doctor about the procedure and sharing with them your concerns and worries can be one way of becoming more well-informed.

Talking to and asking people who experienced surgery before can also increase your knowledge. Asking how they feel and some ways to cope with surgical stress may help you in your journey to feeling less anxious.

When you are well informed and educated about the situation, you may feel more calm and able to face the operating table.

Secondly, Plan in advance.

You will need to plan what you need to do before and after surgery. Make a list of what needs to be taken care of during surgery and the recovery period, such as familial and job obligations. Allocate your responsibilities to those you can trust and rely on. This will allow you to focus all your energy on getting better and healing, speeding up the recovery process.

Thirdly, Follow the instructions provided by us.

We would have provided you with a lot of information regarding the surgery, e.g what to expect and what to do before and after the surgery. When the detail of the surgery is finalised, we would help in the planning process and support you during the recovery period.

Spring Hope Orthopaedic Spine Surgery clinic would always try other treatment methods such as exercise, physiotherapy and medication to treat your condition. Surgery is always a last resort option, only recommending surgery to 10% of our patients. However not to worry as our surgery has a success rate of 95%(?). We take great care in explaining what the surgery entails and the risks involved.

Please keep in mind that we always want to provide the best possible treatment for our patients. We not only aim to provide excellent medical care but also take care of our patient’s emotional well-being.

Dr Tony Setiobudi is an Orthopaedic & Spine Surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Orchard), Singapore.

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