In the world of spinal medicine, surgery often is the last resort. But when you’ve run out of other options, the spine specialists at the Southeastern Spine Institute usually can perform surgery with a minimal incision. Then it’s up to you to complete your back surgery rehab to get back on your feet as quickly as possible.
The type of back surgery rehab your doctor and physical therapist prescribe is determined by the type of operation you had, but there are general guidelines to follow. The goal of back surgery rehab is to strengthen your muscles while allowing your body to heal. That combination helps you get back to your normal life as quickly and as pain-free as possible.
Follow Your Surgeon’s Instructions
At the Southeastern Spine Institute in Charleston, SC, physical therapy is on campus. Your physical therapist and your spine surgeon work together to develop a program that works for your specific case. When you receive instructions from either your surgeon or your therapist regarding your back surgery rehab, follow them to the letter. They are not suggestions; they provide the fastest path to recovery.
Depending on the procedure you had, including artificial disc replacement, your spine doctors may get you up and walking as early as the evening after your surgery. Certainly, you can expect to be given stretching exercises that you will have to follow. And remember: your back surgery rehab will take six to eight weeks. Plan on some physical limitations during this time.
Recovering at Home
Your back surgery rehab continues at home. You may be given some form of pain control; you may need to apply ice to your wound; and you may be restricted to certain positions. Be on the lookout for signs of infection, such as a fever, swelling at the incision point or excessive draining. You need to keep your wound clean, of course, but contact your spinal surgeon if you suspect an infection.
For the first four weeks following your surgery, you may be restricted to walking and stretching. If you had a spinal fusion, for example, you may have to wear a back brace to keep your spine properly aligned. Again, follow your doctor or physical therapist’s instructions. They know best.
Getting Back to Normal
Once you are moving around easier, most likely after the first four weeks following surgery, you can begin more extensive strengthening exercises. Which exercises are right for you depend on what type of surgery you had and whether your surgeon accessed your spine from your back, front or side. As a result, the strengthening exercises that are right for you may focus on your back, front or side.
Exercise is the key to recovering from back surgery. Strengthening the muscles affected by your surgery allows you to get back to a normal level of activity, avoid re-injuring yourself and increase your stamina. So do your prescribed exercises as often as you’re told. You can get back to your normal daily routine given time, as long as you follow your back surgery rehab.