Spine surgery is a step towards a reduction in back pain, but it’s not the end of the line. To truly put back pain issues in the past, you need to commit to a thorough rehabilitation plan. However, sticking to that plan is often easier said than done. Today, we are going to share five tips for ensuring that your rehabilitation after spine surgery is a success.
Rehabbing After Spine Surgery
1. Manage Expectations – One of the first things you should do before starting your rehabilitation plan is to ensure you have realistic expectations about the process. Talk with your doctor about the full rehab process, including when you can expect to see some progress, where you might have some issues and how long the process will take. Many rehabilitation programs are derailed by unrealistic expectations that the patient will recover much quicker or to a much fuller extent than should be expected. Surgery is taxing on a body, so it’s going to take a while to restrengthen all the affected areas.
2. Stick With It – We understand that rehab can be a frustrating process, and at times the last thing you want to be doing is your strength training exercises. Push through this frustration and complete your exercises, because the more you do at the outset, the greater range of motion and strength you’ll be able to regain in the area. If you truly want what’s best for your body, you will finish the entire rehab program.
3. Small Victories – It’s also important to recognize the small victories along the way. Rehab can be a months or even years long process, and it can be difficult to see the progress you’ve made day to day. Some patients find it helpful to keep a journal of their recovery because it helps provide them with tangible proof that they are improving after surgery. You won’t be able to run a marathon right after spine surgery, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take pride in increasing in your walking speed or doing more resistance exercises during physical therapy. Celebrate the small wins along the way.
4. Voice Your Concerns – Another way rehab plans can fail is because patients don’t express their concerns. Whether you think you should be progressing faster, you’re experiencing pain during certain exercises or you think you should be cleared to return to work, voice these concerns to your doctor or physical therapist. We can’t help you if we don’t know something is wrong, and oftentimes a small adjustment can fix the problem. Let us know if you have any issues, and we will work hard to correct them so that they don’t snowball into a bigger problem.
5 – Mental Health – Sometimes people are so focused on their physical health after spine surgery that they ignore their mental health. As we mentioned above, rehab can be a frustrating process, and that can cause some mental and emotional issues. While we advise sticking with your rehab, also make time to enjoy other activities that take your mind off your spine surgery and your recovery. You’ll find it much easier to stick to your physical therapy if you are in a good head space. if you are finding it difficult to keep a positive attitude after surgery or during your recovery, reach out to your spine surgeon for help. Finding a balance between staying mentally and physically fit during recovery is crucial for your rehab.
If you have any questions about your rehab or what you should do after a spinal operation, contact Dr. Chang’s office today.