The Importance of Physical Therapy Post Back Surgery

Orthopedic Injuries, Pain

Deciding on whether or not to get a spinal surgery can be a daunting task. If all conservative measures have failed and you are living with debilitating pain, then choosing surgery is perhaps your best option. Hopefully you have given physical therapy a chance before deciding to get the surgery!

Usually along with neck or back pain, there is arm or leg pain associated with your condition. The surgery is performed to reduce the pressure on the nerve roots that are causing this extremity pain, and usually it is relieved when the patient awakens from the surgery. Occasionally the symptoms linger and the associated arm or leg weakness remains. In most cases this is not permanent.

After your spine surgery, your doctor should send you to outpatient physical therapy in order for you to get the greatest possible benefit from your surgery. A thorough evaluation from a PT is essential to get you moving again in the proper way. Because of your condition and resulting pain pre-surgery, you probably avoided the motions and positions that increased your symptoms. Getting movement back in all directions is critical to a proper recovery post-surgery. This is something with which a skilled physical therapist can help.

Attending physical therapy post-surgery will allow you to perform stabilization exercises tailored to your specific needs, increase flexibility of the musculature surrounding your spine and joints, and perform loading techniques to ensure proper contact with all parts of the vertebrae. Each patient’s case is different so getting generic post-spine surgery exercises off the internet is not a good idea. PT’s look at the entire body’s movements with walking, standing and transfers to determine improper movement patterns at each joint. For example, you may have a tight ankle joint which is causing your hip to perform a compensatory movement that is actually putting your lower back in a compromising position!

So, don’t try to do stretches and generic exercises at home after surgery. It is critical that you see a PT that will evaluate your condition and give you the proper treatment that will aide in the best recovery possible post-surgery.