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Exercise for recovery after spine surgery

Exercise is vital to getting better after spine surgery. It is the key to eliminating fatigue, getting patients back to activity safely, and avoiding re-injury. Ultimately, exercise is critical both in helping the body heal from the original injury and in preventing (or minimising) future episodes of back pain.

A physiotherapist develops an individually tailored exercise program based on knowledge of the exact type of spine surgery, and the forces that are most beneficial for the patient’s spine under different conditions. Patients will typically learn the exercises with the physiotherapist and then do them on their own at home.

There are many choices of exercise available for patients. If a therapist and patient work together, they can find alternatives that will greatly benefit the patient’s physical condition and capability for resuming activities to almost any level.

Patients often wonder if and when they can return to certain activities after spine surgery. A lot of that depends on how they respond to exercise and can prepare the muscles to protect the spine during that activity. The patient/ therapist team works well in this situation, as the therapist has the opportunity to observe the patient’s movement and force tolerances over time.

Education about exercise following spine surgery

With one-on-one physical therapy sessions, patients have plenty of opportunity to ask questions of the therapist. Therapists can explain exactly what changes have occurred as a result of the patient’s specific surgery, and what can be done to maximise the benefits from that surgery.

Many patients ask the same types of questions about back surgery, so the therapist will usually have enough knowledge to be able to answer most questions right away. Often, if the therapist doesn’t know the answer to a question, he or she can speak with a spine surgeon to get the answer. Most therapists will encourage patients to ask as many questions as possible.

Any patient’s success in recovery from spine surgery depends on his or her willingness to work hard at home as well as with the therapist. Ideally, the surgery will take the patient a great deal of the way on the road to recovery, and then the patient and therapist team can work together to make the recovery the best possible.

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