Is Fusion Surgery In The Cards?
Back pain and spinal issues continue to grow in number and severity. More than 80% of the population will experience some back pain. To clear things up, more and more persons are turning to lumbar fusion surgery. At the same time, surgery is only as good as the steps taken for recovery. Through simple exercises, patients should see faster recovery and better results.
What is lumbar fusion surgery?
Lumbar fusion surgery is a minimally invasive procedure to connect two bones in the spine. The lower spine or lumbar region has several interlocking bones called vertebrae. A disc sits between each bone and acts as a shock absorber. Sometimes through injury, arthritis, or a slipped disc, a surgeon needs to perform a fusion to strengthen and stabilize the spine.
How long does recovery take?
Recovery from lumbar fusion varies from patient to patient. On average, a patient can resume some activity after 4-6 weeks. In 3 months, the patient should be able to return to more strenuous activities. Exercise through physical therapy is a big part of a healthy recovery. The doctor will refer the patient to a physical therapist. From there, the therapist will create an exercise regimen based on the stage of recovery. Even those choosing not to do physical therapy will see progress by doing some simple exercises.
Starting the exercise journey
Despite having a crutch or walker after surgery, exercise can begin as early as the first day. In the first 4-6 weeks, simple routines work best. The steps would focus on strengthening and supporting the lower body, especially when standing. With the support of the walker, try toe raises, heel raises, and hip rotations. Seated exercises like a hamstring stretch also help. Complete these exercises 3 times daily, at least 5 days a week.
Turning to the core
As the patient gets stronger, the focus changes to core exercises. The core muscles play an integral part in supporting the lower spine. Plank exercises and stability exercises using a medicine ball, for example, work best. Take up a basic yoga class. Basic yoga poses can help without overextending the lower back. Focus on building up a strong core as much as possible.
Stepping it up
At the 3-month mark, most persons with lumbar fusion should be resuming some regular activity. Twisting, bending, and lifting heavy objects may still be off-limits until the 6-12-month mark. That does not spell the end of exercising. Low-impact, high return exercises are essential to maintain a healthy spine. Try activities like water aerobics or water therapy. Add an exercise bike or treadmill to increase strength and endurance.
Exercise for a better back
There are different minimally invasive surgery options for back pain. However, lumbar fusion can reduce the pain that comes with several spinal conditions. To get the most out of surgery, all patients should exercise often. Start with simple stretches, then gradually work to more intense routines. Work together with a doctor or therapist for a long-term game plan.