What should I expect as I recover?
Even if you don't need surgery, your doctor may recommend that you work with a physiotherapist. Patients are normally seen a few times each week for four to six weeks.
The first goals of treatment are to control symptoms, find positions that ease pain, and teach you how to keep your spine safe during routine activities.
As patients recover, they gradually advance in a series of strengthening exercises. Aerobic exercises, such as walking or swimming, can ease pain and improve endurance.
Rehabilitation after surgery is more complex. Some patients leave the hospital shortly after surgery. However, some surgeries require patients to stay in the hospital for a few days. Patients who stay in the hospital may be visited by a physiotherapist soon after surgery. The treatment sessions help patients learn to move and do routine activities without putting extra strain on the back.
During recovery from surgery, patients should follow their surgeon's instructions about wearing a back brace or support belt. They should be cautious about overdoing activities in the first few weeks after surgery.
Many surgical patients need physiotherapy outside of the hospital. They see a physiotherapist for one to three months, depending on the type of surgery. At first, physiotherapists may use treatments such as heat or ice, electrical stimulation, massage, and ultrasound to calm pain and muscle spasm. Then they teach patients how to move safely with the least strain on the healing back.
As patients recover, they gradually begin doing flexibility exercises for the hips and shoulders, and mobility and strengthening exercises to address the back muscles. Patients may also work with the physiotherapist in a pool. Patients progress with exercises to improve endurance, muscle strength, and body alignment.
As the rehabilitation program evolves, patients do more challenging exercises. The goal is to safely advance strength and function.
Ideally, patients are able to go back to their previous activities. However, some patients may need to modify their activities to avoid future problems.
When treatment is well under way, regular visits to the physiotherapist's office will end. The physiotherapist will continue to be a resource, but patients will be in charge of doing their exercises as part of an ongoing home program.
Physio First provides services for physiotherapy in Etobicoke, Toronto.
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