Physical therapy is perceived by many spine patients as an arduous task; something they’d prefer not to have to do. To engage in physical therapy means to attend numerous appointments, which means spending extra time on something out of your normal routine. Since you’ve had surgery to correct the injury or anomaly that has caused your back pain, can’t you just call it good and stay home?
Maybe not. Here are a few of the things you may miss out on if you skip out on physical therapy after back surgery.
- Optimal healing. When your back has been injured, even if it was years ago, it is weak. Surgery, though corrective, exacerbates this weakness for a short time. Physical therapy often focuses on strengthening the muscles and ligaments that support the spine, so healing occurs optimally.
- Symptom management. Having back surgery does not guarantee the complete and total – and instant – elimination of symptoms. It is possible to experience residual discomfort or limited range of motion after your procedure. Physical therapists employ a variety of modalities, from ice to heat to electrical stimulation, to help you manage these symptoms as the body heals.
- Improved flexibility and mobility. One of the dangers of back pain is that the body will naturally want to overcompensate. This often leads to incorrect posture, which could lead to other problems in the spine or other joints of the body. When physical therapy follows surgery, there is less likelihood of overcompensation and a much higher likelihood of improved mobility and flexibility more quickly.
Think you Can’t-Do It?
There is no denying that physical rehabilitation after surgery takes time and commitment. If you’re struggling with the idea of multiple visits per week, consider strategies such as obtaining a home routine from your physical therapist (and do it consistently!). If traditional physical therapy is a challenge, explore alternatives with your physical therapist, such as walking or doing water aerobics.