Rehabilitation is a vital part of your recovery from spinal surgery. It can help to restore alignment and balance in your body so you gain maximum benefit from your surgery.
As well as managing your own self-care after surgery you will be supported by a physiotherapist to manage pain, rebuild strength and flexibility and make a full recovery.
Controlling your pain is the essential first step of any rehabilitation programme as you will be unable to perform the exercises that the physiotherapist recommends if you are in pain. Alongside pain relieving medication, your doctor may suggest:
- Ice packs to reduce swelling.
- The use of electrical devices such as a TENS machine.
- Recommended positions and simple movements to help alleviate pain.
- Lifestyle changes such as introducing gentle, regular exercise, drinking enough water and eating a healthy balanced diet to support proper healing.
A physiotherapist will work with you to devise an exercise regime to support your recovery. It will take account of the type of surgery you have had, your age, general state of health, body type, tissue condition and other health conditions.
The aim of physiotherapy is muscle facilitation, which means supporting the muscles to regain their strength, stability and range of motion. The exercises, which the physiotherapist will show you so you can do them regularly at home, will focus on:
- The muscles around the incision site.
- Spinal muscles around each vertebra that can help to stabilise the spine.
- Muscles that may have become weakened as a result of nerve problems.
- Techniques to improve flexibility and mobility in the spine safely and gradually.
- Techniques to strengthen other parts of the body, such as the hips and shoulders, and help them adjust to the newly operated spine.
- Helping you to recover from surgery and prevent or minimise future back pain.
A physiotherapist will also be able to advise you on a future exercise regime that can help you to build strength and fitness without risking injury to your spine.
You will also be shown how to develop better postural habits when sitting and standing. This is vital to protect healing disks and muscles.
Other lifestyle changes may also be recommended including:
- A daily walking regime to improve blood flow to the surgery site, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and muscles as they heal. It can also improve cardiovascular health and overall fitness levels.
- Correct lifting techniques to protect your back.
- Support to help you get back to work, including ergonomic evaluation of your workspace to ensure it is not putting pressure on your back.