Back surgery is an essential part of any orthopedic physician’s arsenal of treatments. Surgery attempts to correct structural problems that can lead to pain and other symptoms, and many patients feel lasting relief after surgery. Nevertheless, it is an invasive procedure, and specialists typically reserve it as a last-resort option.
A common misconception is that after back surgery, you will no longer feel back pain. This is simply not true. Recovering from back surgery can take quite some time, and there are many reasons why you would feel pain even after the procedure.
Many people underestimate the pain that comes from the surgery itself. This is especially true for patients who have suffered through years of excruciating pain from various spinal conditions. They are usually surprised when pain seems to reappear several days after surgery. In order to understand how to manage back pain after surgery, it is critical to first understand the types of postoperative pain that patients often feel.
Two significant types of pain emerge after an operation. The most common type is associated with the surgical procedure itself. The incisions cause unavoidable trauma to the tissues near the spine. Like all other wounds, there will be pain, swelling, and inflammation while the incision and internal tissue heal.
The second type of pain, the one caused by the back condition you had before surgery, should be significantly reduced after surgery. If the operation was successful in resolving the mechanical problems of the back, there should be no lasting back pain in this particular category. However, many patients forget that surgery isn’t a magic pill solution. After back surgery, you need to get your back (and body) back into shape. Until you do so, you are likely to continue feeling some level of pain.
Here are some of the things you can do to manage pain after back surgery.
In most cases, the pain that patients feel after the operation is related to the surgery itself. Hence, conventional painkillers should be sufficient in significantly decreasing symptoms. Doctors typically recommend patients take painkillers shortly after waking up from surgery. You will likely need stronger medications in the beginning, and slowly, your dosage will decrease as you will need less of it later on.
Ice application can help with swelling and pain. It works by numbing the area so you feel less sensation. Use an ice pack and apply it in 10-15 minute intervals, or according to your doctor’s instructions.
Your doctors will typically recommend that you start basic exercises as soon as possible after back surgery. The sooner you move after surgery, the less scar tissue will develop. Soon after the surgery wound heals, you will begin physical therapy, which involves using physical exercises and techniques to improve how your body functions. Physical therapy can make you more mobile, flexible, and strong. It also improves blood flow to the surgery area, which speeds up healing. Finally, physical therapy helps reduce pain because it releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller.
At Watauga Orthopaedics, we value excellence in our service and give our patients quality experiences while they’re on the road to recovery. If you pulled your hamstring or have another orthopedic concern, we are happy to help. Our clinics are located in Johnson City, Kingsport, and Bristol, Tennessee. Please schedule an appointment online or give us a call at (423) 282-9011.