After spine surgery, rehab care is extremely important. Good care will get you on your feet much faster. The worst thing you can do is ignore therapy. The surgery may help fix the problem, but therapy allows you to gain strength and prevents future problems. Surgery and therapy work hand in hand. Without therapy, the surgery is a waste of time and money. You may not have thought therapy was that important after surgery, but it is key to a full recovery. It is not the easiest part of the process, but it has great benefits.
Back surgery is either open or minimally invasive. Open back surgery requires the cutting, not only of the skin but the muscles in the back as well. The surgeon pulls away those muscles which may also damage the tissues that are holding those muscles together. The incision is large because the hands of the surgeon must fit into the incision to fix the spine problems. Minimally invasive spine surgery, on the other hand, is a much quicker and easier method of surgery. Instead of making a long 6-inch incision, the incision is barely a full inch. A surgeon uses robotic hands instead of their own to complete the surgery. Since robotic hands are much smaller, the incision is smaller as well. Minimally invasive surgery does not require nearly as much recovery time which is also very helpful for therapy.
During surgery, the doctor may remove parts of the spine, add new parts, fuse bones together, or even add metal. There are many options to what a doctor can do in spine surgery. The surgery is strictly dependent upon the problem. Once the surgery is over, the next step is recovery. Different surgical procedures require different recovery times. Sometimes therapy for spinal fusion cannot begin until a few months after surgery. Most therapy for spine surgery starts within the next couple of weeks after surgery. Once therapy starts, it may seem hard, but you cannot give up.
Physical therapists do their best to get you back on your feet as quick as possible. They focus on two major components:
- Strengthen the muscles
- Control the Pain
Most rehab requires one on one training. Along with one on one training, the physical therapist should educate you and do exercises with you that will improve both your muscles and the pain. The best physical therapists will make you stronger than you were even before surgery.
Physical Therapy Process
Physical therapy is not easy. It takes both effort and strength. A good therapist will push you. A physical therapist is almost like a fitness trainer. There will be some pain and discomfort, but only good pain. The exercises done during therapy are tailor-made for each person. Exercise regimens are dependent upon age, weight, and surgical procedure. If you are an older patient, a therapist should not make you work as hard as a patient that is younger. There are levels of the exercises you do. The more therapy you do, the stronger you should get. The intensity of exercise may begin to increase at this point. The whole purpose is to strengthen your back. A physical therapist wants you to be stronger and better than you were before surgery.
As the muscles strengthen and you learn the adjustments you need to make, your pain level will decrease.It may seem like exercise would cause more pain, but it does not. That strength gives you the power to move more and you begin to lose the stiffness. Lying down all the time and not moving will only make things worse for you. The muscles around your back will weaken, and you will put yourself at a higher risk of injury. Another important part of physical therapy is flexibility. The more flexible you become, the harder it is to strain back muscles. If bones were fused together during surgery, you lose some flexibility. It is important to learn how to adjust to that loss of motion so that it does not become a hindrance for you. In other forms of surgery, physical therapy will increase your range of motion; this rids you of stiffness. Posture also improves because of physical therapy. Sometimes those weakened muscles will cause you to lean or slouch. Improving your posture promotes healing and greatly decreases pain.
Physical therapy is not always the easiest part of recovery, but it is necessary. Physical therapy is just as important as wearing your retainer after your braces come off. If you ignore this post-surgery step, you may do more damage. The pain and discomfort of therapy are only temporary. Physical therapy does not last forever. Therapy typically only lasts a few months, but it also depends on how often you choose to do therapy. Don’t let the physicality of physical therapy keep you from going. Take the time to get physical therapy; you will be happy you did once it is over.
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