Life after back surgery: better than ever
Although after back surgery, health care professionals will guide you, the work is ultimately up to you. Continuing exercises and moving smart will be key. Your success at full recovery depends on your diligence.
- Surgery is the beginning of relief
- Plan your recovery then follow the plan
- Physical therapy ROCKS!
- Life restored
Surgery is the beginning of relief
If surgery has been recommended and chosen as the remedy for your back pain, remember that Rome was not built in a day...or even a year. The same is true for your recovery after surgery. Initially the pain you were experiencing may or may not be totally gone.
One type that you may instantly feel cured is sciatic pain. You may notice it has disappeared as early as upon waking in the recovery room. Other types of back pain may not have such instant relief, but with physical therapy and medications, you can find your way to normal living once again.
Plan your recovery then follow the plan
For a short time, your focus will be on the healing of the incision made during surgery. Keeping it clean and dry is not always as easy as it sounds. Clean and dry wounds heal quicker. Simply being able to shower is a big issue. In these modern days, there is special tape that can be applied over the wound that keeps it dry throughout your shower. It is probably not recommended for baths.
Be patient. It's surprising for many how weak you can become after a surgery such as this. Getting through an entire shower can be difficult. Having a seat in the shower will be very helpful, as will assistance by a spouse or other family member. Keep the first few showers short, lengthening them as time goes by.
Rest as often as possible but don't stay in bed for long periods of time. Walking slowly and carefully about the house will help your recovery efforts. If you must use a walker to get about, be sure you have plenty of room to maneuver without obstacles.
Physical therapy ROCKS!
When you are a little stronger, a visit to the physical therapist will be ordered by your surgeon. The first visit will be for evaluation. This is the time for making your plan. Setting goals is part of the plan, so think about these prior to your first visit.
The second visit and beyond will be geared to gaining back your strength and flexibility. Depending upon the area of your back that was operated on, different exercises will be recommended to reach those objectives. As you improve, more and different moves will be added to your routine.
Along with your exercises, your therapist may use electrical stimulation on your back. This is referred to as E-stim. Don't fret...this is actually quite pleasant and not at all in the category of Frankenstein being brought to life! Small electrodes are placed at strategic spots and connected to the electrical unit. The pulses felt will mask any pain you are experiencing at the time, giving your muscles and nerves a rest in order to heal. Additionally, hot packs may be placed over the electrodes. VERY pleasant! Manual massage may also be applied. This is very relaxing and is often the favorite part of the visit.
Your therapist will work with your doctor and insurance company to assure the best possible recovery.
At the end of your P.T. visits, you will have regained much of your previous levels of activity. If these had been curtailed quite severely by high levels of agony and discomfort, you may now be able to return to the activities you enjoyed prior to pain. (PTP!) Success can be viewed at the end of the tunnel. You will likely be able to resume activities of daily living and actually enjoy fun things again. Be wary of movements that tend to irritate your back. Caution is the new word of the day.
If you continue doing at home the exercises you were taught by your therapist, long range success is multiplied. It will be a "dance" to balance what you want to do with how you must do it now. If the dream of remaining active is big enough, the facts of gearing down a bit don't count.
For the best and most longest lasting recovery, staying on the exercise program is crucial. They can also help keep more back issues at bay. Strength, flexibility and correct techniques of movement will aid in your quest for health and fitness.