How to prepare for back surgery

Back surgery is a major procedure, so it’s important that you’re fully prepared before coming in for surgery. The type of back surgery you have will depend on the cause of your back pain. However, regardless of what type of surgery you’re going to have, there are some steps you can take to prepare for surgery and help you recover.

Lifestyle changes to help you prepare for back surgery

There are a few changes you can make to your lifestyle to help prepare for surgery:  

Stop smoking

Nicotine, which is found in tobacco, increases the risk of complications after any surgery. It can increase your risk of infection and interfere with your bones’ ability to heal. Smoking also increases the risk of blood clots as it thickens your blood. 

Quitting smoking at least four to six weeks before surgery can help lower the associated risks and help your recovery. 

Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet and plenty of water will have a big impact on your recovery. Avoid processed food before surgery and during your recovery. Try to eat a healthy, balanced diet including foods such as wholemeal bread, brown rice, fresh fruit and vegetables, beans, nuts, chicken breasts and salmon. 

Making sure you stay hydrated after back surgery is also important as it helps your blood flow, so that nutrients can be effectively distributed throughout your body and toxins removed — this is important to maintain your joint health. 


It’s important to be as fit as possible before you undergo surgery. It helps reduce your risk of complications and will also help with your recovery. Regular exercise will improve your muscle strength and increases the oxygen and nutrients delivered to your tissues.

Try to at least take a daily walk in the weeks before your surgery.  


Our bodies do most of their healing while we sleep, which is why you’ll need lots of rest during your recovery. Making sure you’re getting plenty of sleep in the run-up to your surgery will also ensure your body is well-rested. 

 Maintain a healthy weight 

If you’re overweight, there is a higher chance of complications during your surgery and of infection after surgery. Reducing your weight can therefore reduce your risk of complications and improve your recovery. 

Home preparations to help your recovery after back surgery

When you go home after surgery you’re going to be less mobile as you recover, so it’s a good idea to get your home ready before you go in for surgery.

Make the essentials easily accessible

Think about the items in your home that you use on a daily basis and move them into easily accessible locations. Investing in a grabbing device is also a good idea to help you pick up and reach items without bending, stretching or twisting. A toilet riser is another good investment, this reduces the distance you need to bend down to sit on the toilet.

Remove rugs and obstacles

Remove any rugs or trip hazards in your home and pay particular attention to the paths you’ll be using on a daily basis. Keep paths as clear and wide as possible to avoid any accidents. 

 Prepare meals in advance

Things that you previously took for granted, such as cooking or making a snack, might be more difficult after surgery. Try batch cooking healthy meals in advance and freezing them. If you double what you’re cooking every day for a few weeks before your surgery, you’ll soon have enough meals for a few weeks.

Other steps to prepare for back surgery

Here are a few other tips that you may find useful to help you prepare for your surgery: 

Buy slip-on shoes

Get a pair of comfortable and supportive slip-on shoes. You won’t be able to bend down to tie laces to begin with so these will be easier to put on. 

Buy a body pillow 

A body pillow may help you adjust and find comfortable positions while sleeping and sitting as you recover. 

 Reach out to your support network

It’s common to feel low for a while after surgery. Talk to friends and family about your feelings. This will help stop you from feeling isolated. 

Arrange for a carer

We recommend having someone stay with you for the first week after surgery. You will need extra help around the house. If you can’t have a family member stay with you after surgery, it may be a good idea to hire a cleaner or carer for a while.

Research the procedure

Before your surgery, make sure you ask your healthcare team lots of questions about the procedure you’re going to have. Ask what you should expect at each stage, from anaesthesia to recovery in hospital, and then recovery in your home. There aren’t any wrong questions, so make sure you ask whatever’s on your mind so you feel less anxious about what’s ahead.

We hope you've found this article useful, however, it cannot be a substitute for a consultation with a specialist

If you're concerned about symptoms you're experiencing or require further information on the subject, talk to a GP or see an expert consultant at your local Spire hospital.

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Author Information

Cahoot Care Marketing

Niched in the care sector, Cahoot Care Marketing offers a full range of marketing services for care businesses including: SEO, social media, websites and video marketing, specialising in copywriting and content marketing.

Over the last five years Cahoot Care Marketing has built an experienced team of writers and editors, with broad and deep expertise on a range of care topics. They provide a responsive, efficient and comprehensive service, ensuring content is on brand and in line with relevant medical guidelines.

Their writers and editors include care sector workers, healthcare copywriting specialists and NHS trainers, who thoroughly research all topics using reputable sources including the NHS, NICE, relevant Royal Colleges and medical associations.

The Spire Content Hub project was managed by:

Lux Fatimathas, Editor and Project Manager

Lux has a BSc(Hons) in Neuroscience from UCL, a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and experience as a postdoctoral researcher in developmental biology. She has a clear and extensive understanding of the biological and medical sciences. Having worked in scientific publishing for BioMed Central and as a writer for the UK’s Medical Research Council and the National University of Singapore, she is able to clearly communicate complex concepts.

Catriona Shaw, Lead Editor

Catriona has an English degree from the University of Southampton and more than 12 years’ experience copy editing across a range of complex topics. She works with a diverse team of writers to create clear and compelling copy to educate and inform.

Alfie Jones, Director — Cahoot Care Marketing

Alfie has a creative writing degree from UCF and initially worked as a carer before supporting his family’s care training business with copywriting and general marketing. He has worked in content marketing and the care sector for over 10 years and overseen a diverse range of care content projects, building a strong team of specialist writers and marketing creatives after founding Cahoot in 2016.