What Happens If You Skip Physical Therapy After Back Surgery?
Category: Surgery Recovery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: August 23, 2018
Physical therapy is far from the most exciting thing you could be doing, but it is very important to your rehabilitation, so you should always make time for it. A lot of people start physical therapy and then stop as soon as their back feels “good enough,” or they don’t start in the first place because they don’t think it is necessary. Today, we hope to showcase why physical therapy is so important after spine surgery, and what can happen if you ignore your PT sessions.
Inhibited Healing / Delayed Recovery
Physical therapy helps to promote healing in the area by bringing healthy, oxygenated blood to structures that are recovering from the trauma of surgery. If your body isn’t getting these nutrients, it’s going to take longer to recover. What could be a six week process could turn into eight weeks or longer if you don’t participate in rehab.
One of the best things about physical therapy is that it helps us to regain strength that has been affected by the operation. Most people find that if they jump into a physical therapy program, they can get back to their pre-surgery levels or strength, or even come out of the program stronger than before. However, if you don’t put in the work, your muscles aren’t going to be able to regain lost mass. If your muscles remain weakened, you’re at risk of future injuries like pulled muscles or spinal stability problems.
Inhibited Range of Motion
Physical therapy also helps to increase your range of motion after an operation. It is imperative that you jump into a PT program after surgery to prevent the development of scar tissue. Scar tissue can impinge nerves and limit your mobility, and once it sets in, only surgery can remove it. However, scar tissue can be limited and prevented by targeted physical therapy. If you wait too long to begin a program, or you stop too soon, odds are scar tissue will develop.
Odds are you’re going to have some pain and discomfort as you recover from surgery. Don’t just rely on pain medications to mask the pain. Studies have shown that participation in physical therapy programs can help to control and decrease symptom prevalence after surgery.
Finally, skipping physical therapy after back surgery only cheats yourself out of the best possible recovery. Spine surgery can help you return to certain activities and improve your quality of life, but only if you commit to your rehab and really give your body a chance to make a full recovery. If it helps, consider starting a PT journal to document your rehab. Some patients find that if they can go back through their journal and visualize the progress they are making, they are more likely to commit to and stick with their physical therapy program.
For more information about the benefits of a physical therapy program after a spinal operation, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.