MOBILITY DURING RECOVERY FROM BACK SURGERY
Normally, back surgery is treated as a last resort if more conservative treatments (i.e., physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, anti-inflammatory drugs, facet joint injections, etc.) have failed to adequately reduce pain levels and restore mobility. Physicians and patients alike should approach back surgery as a calculated risk, one taken to maximize long-term health and mobility while giving the patient the best chance at consistently low-to-moderate pain levels during recovery. Post-operative care is a different matter entirely, however, as many patients aren’t prepared for the loss in mobility that comes after major back surgery. Large incisions, which in many back procedures are necessary to give the surgeon vision of the damaged portion of the spine, also can severely damage muscles and other soft tissue along the spinal column. This trauma greatly reduces patient mobility during post-operative care, as the muscles have essentially been rendered unable to do their jobs.
For patients, compromised mobility can present maddening challenges during post-operative care, not to mention complications. For example, surgical site infection (SSI) occurs from contamination of the surgical site, either during the operation itself or at some point during recovery. SSI is particularly dangerous if the contamination is internal, such as a contaminated plate or screw that has been implanted to stabilize the spinal column (lumbar fusion) . Patients will most likely be unable to adequately check their own incision sites for signs of infection, so family members and friends may be needed for not only this task, but to change the patient’s dressing as well.
Physical therapy / chiropractic therapy during post-operative care for back surgery is generally focused on preserving long-term mobility. If the muscles along the spinal column that were damaged by the surgeon’s incisions are not adequately worked during recovery, patients may soon find themselves incapable of bending and twisting beyond the physician’s weight-related restrictions. In other words, avoiding physical therapy can potentially result in a permanent reduction in range of motion. On the other hand, too much activity can de-stabilize implanted devices and re-tear healing muscles, prolonging the healing process and increasing the likelihood for additional corrective surgeries.
Physicians will likely recommend several checkup visits during post-operative care in order to accurately gauge your progress and make necessary adjustments to your physical therapy regimen. Some back pain is normal and expected, but if your pain changes suddenly or begins to radiate through your ribs, legs, or arms, seek medical attention. Radiating back pain and muscle weakness often signals spinal nerve compression, which over the long-term may cause nerve damage and permanent loss of sensation. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help mediate pain levels, though during the initial healing process, physicians may authorize stronger prescription pain medication.
Physician experts at the Kraus Back and Neck Institute (KBNI) in Houston TX have significant experience at taking care of patients with back problems, back injuries and other sources of back and neck pain. They frequently see patients who are suffering from the symptom of neck pain, low back pain, and mid back pain, and have never received imaging studies of the spine. Physicians at the KBNI will order the appropriate spinal imaging studies of the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine as needed, and review the results with the patient.
The Kraus Back and Neck Institute (KBNI) in Houston TX takes care of patients in Houston and the surrounding areas, including Sugarland, Woodlands, Katy, Spring, Sealy, Baytown, Pearland, Beaumont, Galleria, Conroe, Humble, Kingwood, Port Arthur, Galveston, Memorial City, Texas Medical Center (TMC) and other Texas TX cities including Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin.
Keywords: back surgery, back pain, physical therapy, pain levels, Houston, Woodlands, Katy, Spring, Sugarland, Sealy, Pearland, Baytown, Beaumont, Tomball, Galleria, Humble, Conroe, Kingwood, Port Arthur, Memorial City, Galveston, Texas Medical Center (TMC), Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin