A spinal injury can have both immediate and lasting consequences. Without proper steps, there is an increased opportunity for future pain and limited mobility. Here, we share a few ways in which you can protect your back or neck from unnecessary symptoms after you’ve experienced an injury. Keep in mind that a spinal injury doesn’t always involve a major trauma like a car accident. In many cases, the conditions we treat stem from normal day-to-day actions.
The number one mistake that people make when addressing their back or neck pain is that they don’t. Some take a couple of days off and manage painful symptoms with rest and medication. However, most people go back to work and other normal activities to the best of their ability after their initial home care. Going back to normal too soon after an injury to any part of the spine spells trouble. The spine may never fully recover from that initial injury because it continues to receive the same stresses it always has. Instead of ignoring spine pain, patients are encouraged to rest and then move into some sort of rehabilitation activity.
Do the Rehab
Just like ignoring back pain altogether, people often go half-in on their advised or prescribed physical therapy programs. This is also a mistake that prevents full healing. Physical therapy is one of the best ways to address spinal pain and prevent the need for surgery, so go all-in. Physical therapy may feel taxing. It may feel like a chore to have to do exercises at home in between sessions. However, this is the very thing your back needs to heal and strengthen so the problem does not return.
Ease Into Activity
Even if you engage in a physical therapy program and find some relief from pain with proper medication, there is no value in rushing back to your normal activities. We encourage patients to take it slow and gradually increase the intensity of the activities they do over time. This way, the muscles and tissues around the spine can acclimate to stress without overload. As you may know, overload is a fast-track to re-injury.
See a Specialist
We often see patients after they have waited for months or years for their pain and other symptoms to resolve. Why? Because, they say, they were afraid of surgery. What we want people to know is that there is a general structure to easing back pain. Surgery is rarely at the forefront. There is immense value in consulting with a spinal specialist about back or neck pain. This specialist performs a thorough examination and imaging that can identify the source of pain. From there, an accurate and deliberate treatment plan is formed.