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    Helping the Body Heal Following Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

    • November 15, 2015
    • by Lift Division
    • back surgery, minimally invasive surgery, MISS, recovery,
    • Leave a comment

    Recovery from minimally invasive spine surgery is not immediate, despite the fact that the patient may feel sudden relief following the surgery. To maximize recovery and minimize the potential for problems in the future, physical therapy is usually recommended. This is especially true, considering that the deconditioning of back muscles often causes problems with spine and joint function. Such deconditioning may have caused the problem in the first place, and once the spine issue is fixed, maintaining proper posture and body mechanics is critical to maintaining spine health. This article provides some guidance about the types of physical therapy a patient can typically expect following minimally invasive spine surgery. However, consulting with your doctor is a must before beginning any therapy or exercises.

    Benefits of Physical Therapy

    Physical therapy can be beneficial to a patient of minimally invasive spine surgery, especially those who experience residual pain and other symptoms following surgery. Patients may also benefit from improved motion and soft tissue restrictions thanks to physical therapy. Education is also a large part of the physical therapy process, with patients learning postures to keep spine stress at a minimum, lessening the risk of disc injury and spinal degeneration. Issues such as flat back syndrome and sway back can also be fixed with proper physical therapy.

    Outside of physical therapy, encourage yourself to be physically active. Physical activity is essential to recovery following minimally invasive spine surgery not only to prevent problems like blood clots, but also to prevent future injuries. Check with your doctor or your physical therapist to ensure the activity is appropriate for your level of recovery, and remember to listen to your body!

    The Importance of Back Strength

    Strong muscles in your trunk can help protect the spine from damage, but many of the key muscle groups involved in spine stabilization, such as the multifidus and the transversus abdominis, are not involved in regular daily movements. This can cause weakness and even atrophy of these muscles. Segmental stabilization of the spine, a type of physical therapy that targets deep, supportive muscles, helps to battle localized weakness and can help provide protection for individual spinal segments. Because minimally invasive spine surgery usually does not disrupt muscles surrounding the spine, patients are able to retain all function of these muscles. Segmental stabilization is especially important after procedures treating herniated discs and degenerative disc disease.

    Types of Exercises Used to Promote Recovery

    Starting with about 15 minutes a day, strength training, cardiovascular exercises, and flexibility exercises can both help patients protect their spines before and after minimally invasive spine surgery. While the link between muscular strength and back pain may be intuitive, cardiovascular health is also linked to back pain, as low endurance leads to inactivity and deconditioning in patients. Maintaining cardiovascular health through exercise can contribute to successful outcomes following minimally invasive spine surgery. Additionally, patients can regain mobility and flexibility through physical therapy, allowing the body to move with little tension and minimizing the chances that the original symptoms will return.

    Before beginning resistance training, patients who have undergone minimally invasive spine surgery should first undertake spine-stabilizing exercises focusing on the multifidus and transverses abdominis. These stabilization exercises can help patients identify a neutral spine position and can teach the body how to maintain the neutral position. Once patients have begun training in spine stabilization, strength training and resistance exercises can help them improve functional movement.  Lifting weights is usually not advisable soon after minimally invasive spine surgery, but resistance bands and your own body weight are more than enough to build strength through resistance training. Cardiovascular exercise following minimally invasive spine surgery should be gentle and low-impact. Such exercises include swimming, hiking, step aerobics and walking.

    Listen to Your Body

    Physical therapy can be conducted with a physician or physical therapist, but much of a patient’s recovery following minimally invasive spine surgery occurs independently, especially in the later stages of recovery. Always follow your physical therapist’s instructions, and understand that the exercises are meant to fix past damage and prevent future damage. While some discomfort is normal during recuperative exercises, severe pain should be reported to your physician. Don’t forget to check with your doctor or physical therapist before starting any exercises to avoid problems before they start.


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