The non-invasive approaches to treating your lower back pain no longer give you as much relief. Back supports, heating pads and massage worked at one time, but the pain has gotten worse instead of better. Your doctor now recommends surgery for your lower back pain treatment. Here is what you can expect from spinal surgery and subsequent recovery at home.
The Procedure Used Depends On the Cause of Your Pain
Your spine surgeon will do a number of tests to determine the precise cause of your lower back pain. The surgical technique they use depends on where the problem is and the extent of the spinal issue. Some of the common procedures to relieve lower back pain include:
- removal of small bone growths on the vertebrae that irritate the nerves leaving the spine
- widening of openings through which nerves leave the spine that have been narrowed by a bone disease
- removal of all or part of a cartilage disc that sits between the vertebrae and cushion their movements
If the procedure results in an instability in the spine, additional techniques will be required, such as:
- fusing two or more of the spinal vertebrae together after the removal of a cartilage disc
- inserting metal rods alongside the spine to support it as the fused vertebrae become solid
Recovering from Spinal Surgery
You may gain some immediate relief from the surgery, but it will take weeks for your body to completely heal. Your doctor will give you detailed instructions as to what you can and can't do at home. Follow the instruction precisely or you risk injuring your back, perhaps to the point that additional surgery must be done. The instructions will include:
- To what degree you can bend and twist at your waist.
- How much you can lift at one time and how to lift items safely.
- Restrictions on bending at the waist, which include when you get up out of a chair or your bed.
- How much you can work at your desk job.
- Restrictions on any physical labor and exercise.
Your doctor will have you begin physical therapy shortly after you get home. It will take weeks to regain full and natural movement in your lower back as it heals from the surgery and you build up the muscles in your back.
The first stage of physical therapy will be to slowly stretch out the muscles in your lower back. The therapist will give you exercises to regain the normal range of motion in your back. Slow incremental progress is important here. If you force your back into positions that it's not ready to assume, you could injure your back.
The therapist will measure your progress each session. When you have nearly reached the normal range of motion, they will start you on strength training. Building up the muscles in your lower back not only helps you move comfortably, but it protects your back from future injury. It will take several weeks to gain strength in your lower back to return to normal daily activities. If you are active in physical sports and exercise, your doctor will have you spend some additional time strengthening your back to protect it from injury.
For further assistance, contact a local professional, such as one from The Advanced Spine Center.