What to Do for Post-Operative Back Pain
The operation is over, but your back pain may still be lingering. The bad news is that spinal surgery does cause significant pain for a period following the procedure. The good news is that doctors have a substantial toolkit to use to help ease your post-operative back pain.
What to do for post-operative back pain depends upon the nature of the back surgery and the level of pain you are experiencing. A meticulous spine doctor can discuss your pain with you to determine how to help you recover more comfortably.
Post-Operative Back Pain
As with most surgeries, the pain is the most intense in the first few days after the operation, but then should dissipate to some degree. Pain control for post-operative back pain is essential not only for the patient’s comfort but also to start the rehabilitation process.
A patient in pain cannot start the recovery regimen if doing so makes the pain more intense. The time it takes to fully heal depends upon the patient and their overall physical condition.
Medication for Pain
For a short while after surgery, patients may receive opioids for pain relief. However, this medication is designed for temporary use and the patient should stop using it after a particular time frame. After that, over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen, ibuprofen, or Cox-2 inhibitors can provide relief.
In some cases, the doctor may have some classes of NSAIDs administered intravenously. Intravenous or epidural administration of corticosteroids can also reduce inflammation and provide relief. Finally, patients experiencing nerve pain may benefit from the use of antidepressants.
Physical therapy is an integral part of pain management and the recovery process. The physical therapist designs a program for each patient, and the exercise therapy will likely focus on muscle facilitation so that the patient can regain strength in their core to provide post-surgical stability.
The therapist may also use treatments such as hot and cold therapy and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) units for pain relief. This therapy uses low-voltage electric stimulation, which acts upon the sensory nervous system.
Sometimes, post-operative back pain is due to scar tissue at the nerve root. The formal term for such scar tissue is epidural fibrosis. Scar tissue is a normal part of the healing process – it is only when the nerve root binds to fibrous adhesions that pain results.
Such tissue forms within the first three months after the surgery. To avoid the development of scar tissue, the patient is given stretching exercises to perform during the healing process. These exercises help prevent the tissue from binding to the nerve root.
For some patients, behavioral modification, in the form of cognitive therapy, may help alleviate post-operative back pain. This includes the use of relaxation techniques and biofeedback.
It is crucial that patients learn to listen to what their body is telling them. While recuperating, they must pace themselves and not try to “speed up” their recovery and risk harming the back. It is important to avoid movements causing pain, as well as repetitive motions. It is also crucial to always speak to the surgeon or physical therapist if prescribed exercises are causing excessive pain.
A Doctor Could Explain What to Do for Post-Operative Back Pain
Though pain is part of the healing process, there are actions and treatments available to help ease your pain. Speak to your doctor about what to do for post-operative back pain. They can help find a solution to give you the maximum comfort while you recover. Call today.