The doctors at Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) take a conservative approach to healing back pain, so surgery is always the absolute last resort. If your doctor has come to the conclusion that you need back surgery, it’s more than likely that nothing else has worked to eliminate your back pain.
If, after all other more conservative measures, you’re still experiencing pain, or your pain is increasing, your doctor will begin going over surgical options with you. One of the reasons that SSI spine doctors don’t suggest surgery as a primary means of treating your back pain is because back surgery recovery can be a long road. It requires rigorous vigilance to your therapy.
Surgical Options You May Undergo
Depending on the source of your pain, your doctor has a variety of surgical procedures to choose from, including but not limited to:
Regardless of the surgical route selected, your recovery may require you to re-learn a few things. Sitting, standing and walking can all be affected. You may continue to experience radiating pain in your hips, knees or shoulders. Your body needs to figure out how to move with a tender spine.
Path to Back Surgery Recovery
Luckily, SSI has physical therapists on staff (and on campus) who can be in on the treatment plan from day one. They make sure your recovery treatment plan includes physical therapy (PT) before and after your surgery. So, before you go home, a therapist from SSI visits to start your back surgery recovery off on the right foot.
While the goal is to get you back to full flexibility, you’re not allowed to bend right after surgery. Since you bend all the time without even realizing it — to tie your shoes, to do the ironing, to grab the car door handle, even to go up steps — it’s difficult to avoid. But during back surgery recovery, these activities can cause more pain or cause your incision to open.
Prepare for your back surgery recovery by installing handrails, removing loose throw rugs and adding a few mechanical “grabbers” to your recovery toolbox. They can help you retain mobility while your back heals. Here are five ways you can protect your back when you need to bend during your recovery:
- If you absolutely must pick something up that you dropped, crouch. Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart for stability, then bend just your knees and lower yourself, carefully keeping your back straight and upright.
- You have to put on your socks while in the reclining position. Lay back on your bed, draw your knee to your chest and carefully reach down to slip socks on over your feet.
- Since you shouldn’t twist at all post-surgery, try pivoting instead when you need to turn your upper body. Rotate on your foot to turn your whole body to where you need to be.
- When standing at your kitchen counter, resist the urge to hunch over; instead, stand as close to the counter as you can and keep your back straight.
- If you tend to lean over the sink while brushing your teeth, open the cabinet under the sink and put your foot on the cabinet ledge, which helps you keep your back straight while you brush.
These are just five suggestions. Your SSI physical therapist has more post-operative instructions for you to follow during your back surgery recovery. Follow them to the letter, and you’ll feel better in no time.