Spine surgery can help to correct an issue that is causing pain or keeping you from being as active as you’d like, but surgery alone won’t address all your issues. The operation is the first step in the process, but you’ll make the most functional gains during your rehabilitation as a result of your physical therapy exercises. And while your post-op rehab plan will be unique to your surgery and your needs, we want to use today’s blog to look at some of the ways physical therapy will help you recover after spine surgery.
Physical Therapy After Spine Surgery
Physical therapy can target a number of different issues that you may be experiencing after your spinal procedure. Here’s a look at some ways that PT can help you make the strongest functional recovery after back surgery.
- Pain Control – You will experience some mild to moderate discomfort in the wake of your spinal procedure. Even when minimally invasive techniques are used, surgery is a major trauma on your body, and tissues will be cut in order to access the surgery site. This will lead to some pain, but you can control this discomfort by working with a physical therapist. Not only can they help you manage pain, but a physical therapist can also help you manage inflammation that can lead to discomfort and a prolonged recovery. Simple movement exercises can help decrease discomfort and inflammation.
- Stability – There’s a decent chance that your spinal operation was due in part to some spinal instability, and even if the operation wasn’t directly related to a stability issue, trauma to spinal tissues can make the spinal column less stable. Your physical therapist will work with you to strengthen structures that stabilize your spine. A number of spinal issues are tied to spinal instability, so strengthening and stabilizing your spine is imperative following an operation.
- Expanding Range Of Motion – Your physical therapist will help you to safely expand your comfortable range of motion after surgery. As we mentioned above, your body is in a weakened state following an operation, so trying to expand your range of motion too quickly or without proper oversight can lead to a setback. We’ll carefully work to expand your comfortable range of motion and prevent the onset of potentially problematic scar tissue through some simple movement exercises.
- Posture Care – Your posture may have played a role in your spinal issue, but even if it didn’t, you’ll want to ensure that you have ideal posture after your operation. Poor posture can overload different areas of your spine, particularly your lower back or neck, and if these are the areas that have been surgically-addressed, you don’t want to overload them because your spine is out of alignment. Through posture and gait analysis, we can help you understand what ideal posture feels like and how to conduct self-assessments and corrections to ensure your posture doesn’t put excessive strain on your spine.
- Return On Your Terms – Finally, a physical therapist will help cater exercises to your specific needs or goals. If you want to return to work or get back to playing recreational sports, our team can help develop some activity-specific exercises to target areas of your spine that you’ll be leaning on during these activities. Working with a physical therapist can help you reach some individualized goals that you have for yourself in the wake of spine surgery.
More than a million Americans undergo a spinal operation each year, and most of them will pursue a physical therapy routine during their recovery in order to regain as much physical function as possible. For more information on how our physical therapy team can help you after a spinal injury or surgery, give us a call today at (612) 339-2041.