How Depression Can Impact Low Back Surgery Outcomes
How you feel before having surgery for low back pain makes a difference in how you’ll feel afterward. Recent studies have focused on finding factors that can predict how effective surgery will be. It seems that social and psychological issues, such as depression and anxiety, are important predictors.
In a study published last year in The Spine Journal, researchers used data from 919 patients with a mean age of 59.6 years to determine the levels of pre-surgery depression and lower back pain not related to trauma or cancer. Then, over a period of not less than six months following lumbar surgery, they tracked changes in the patients’ quality of life. The findings support those of earlier studies and show that depression and pain level are both major predictors of a patient’s quality of life up to one year after surgery. Surgery resulted in significant improvement in both functionality and psychosocial factors for all patients in the study. But the greater the level of depression before surgery, the lower the level of improvement was afterward.
The study emphasizes the importance of being open with your doctor about your feelings of depression and experience of pain. Treating depression before surgery can significantly improve your quality of life after surgery. It’s also important for your doctor to be aware of your depression before surgery so that mood issues can be appropriately addressed afterward to prevent relapse.