Many people want to, but have never been given any specific instructions or guidelines to follow regarding what exercises to do after back surgery. Some surgeons believe the surgery itself helps correct the problem. Most often than not, the problem was not addressed by the surgery.
The surgery only addresses either a sign or symptom caused by the true problem. Most disc injuries and arthritic conditions develop and progress over a long period of time. Typically, if there is a traumatic event, such as a fall, a motor vehicle accident or job related injury, the body will heal itself over an unspecified period of time.
On rare occasions, a traumatic back injury will require immediate surgery. There are always additional conditions that impact the health of the spine.
Those conditions include the following, but are not exhaustive:
* lower extremity muscle imbalances
* weak abdominal and lower back muscles
* restricted spinal range of motion
* leg length discrepancy
* gait asymmetry
* improper biomechanics that are necessary for a particular job or sport
* other physical limitations that effect the hip, knee, ankle, foot, and/or upper back
Addressing these physical limitations, especially after surgery, are paramount to the success of the surgery. For example, if you undergo a lumbar fusion in which two vertebrae are fused together, the vertebrae above and below tend to be the targets of future potential injury.
If the above conditions are not addressed, you run the risk of further injury and possible surgeries. Simple, easy to perform exercises can help eliminate those factors which can lead to further injury. The success of the surgery, in my opinion, is directly related to what happens after the surgery. More importantly, addressing the physical limitations prior to surgery may even eliminate the need for surgery, and if not, it will provide a good foundation for recovery following the surgery.
What can I do?
The first thing you need to do it ask your surgeon, to give you a list of instructions, of the motions that you can and can not do and make sure that they indicate if they are temporally or are they for ever. For example If you have had a Total Hip Replacement there are motions, that you can never do and only your surgeon can tell you what they are based on the type of procedure and the hardware that they used.
Where do I Start?
Sounds like a simple question but there is are some considerations, Pain level, tolerance to activity, is the surgical site stable...the list of considerations can go on and on so lets imagine we get past all of the physical limitations and now we have to start were we are and how we are.
What is the state of your physical being, to start you need to identify imbalances in your physical being, you must first be assessed or assess your self, looking for muscle imbalances and postural dysfunctions and then a well planned corrective exercise program can be established.
Why look for Postural Dysfunction after surgery?
Postural dysfunctions, take into account the position of your pelvis and the curvature of your spine. The trouble is, if your pelvis is not in the most neutral position you spine will have abnormal curvature and that abnormal curvature is what cause excessive ware and tear on the muscles, joints, ligaments and yes it can also cause the discs to start to bulge.
The postural dysfunctions you have are also a factor in your recovery after surgery, please understand that just because the bulging or herniation part of the disc was removed that does not mean the forces that cause the disc to herniated in the first place have been eliminated, that is not true.
If you do not address your postural dysfunctions those same forces will begin working on other discs in your back and the process will start all over again. That is why back surgeries have such a high failure rate after 5 years.
The surgery very well many have eliminated the irritation that was on the nerve but it sure did not address the root cause of the problem. Please be sure that all measures are taken that the after the surgery your postsurgical pain is addressed as well as your postural dysfunctions.
Is it Safe to do Exercises?
Please understand that the term "back pain exercise" is a misnomer, let me explain, you would not want to exercise your back pain would you? NO, of course not, then you must have mean what exercises should you do to strengthen my back, well guess what that may not be what you need to do to get pain either.
You see regardless of your condition and with in the limitations of your surgery your main focus need to be on getting your body back to a more neutral, more balanced and more stable state in order to insure that the surgery is a success.
The best way to insure that is accomplished is to address your muscle imbalances and only do very specific stretches and exercises that are appropriate for you and your current condition and the only way to know what it is that you need to be doing is to assess your body as a whole looking at your posture
What if my Therapist will not Address my Muscle Imbalances?
If your therapist will not address your muscle imbalances then you need to do it on your own. The muscle balance therapy technique is widely becoming the standard as the best self care system available and should be considered if you have not had your posture assessed...
You do not want to end up with yet another failed back surgery, simply because no one took the time to look at your body as a whole and look for the true root cause. Now that you have read this you have no excuse but to address it your self if no one else has helped you do it...
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