The back and spine play an integral role in a wide range of movements and functions, so any type of back injury can have a significant impact on a person’s day-to-day capabilities. Back injuries can cause a great deal of physical pain and discomfort, can significantly reduce a person’s range of motion, and may make certain movements difficult. At Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin we offer a number of treatments for back injuries, including minimally invasive spine surgery that addresses injuries while reducing the damage, scarring, and recovery associated with traditional surgical treatments. Even with minimally invasive treatment, patients should understand that restoring strength and flexibility after a back injury is a gradual process. Rehabilitation after a back injury allows our Austin, TX patients to gradually improve strength and flexibility and restore a better quality of life.
The Importance of Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation is vital to successfully recovering from a back injury or back surgery. Even if a specific problem is corrected through surgery or other means of spinal treatment, it is not safe to jump back into a strenuous physical routine without first reconditioning the tendons, ligaments, and muscles of the back. Rehabilitation allows patients to gradually stretch the tendons, ligaments, and muscles; rebuild strength; and avoid (or minimize) the recurrence of back pain.
Three types of muscles support the spine: extensors, flexors, and obliques. Properly strengthening and stretching these muscles without pushing the body too far, or causing additional damage, requires a great deal of experience and expertise. For this reason, we always recommend that patients work with a trained and licensed professional during their rehabilitation process. This may include a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a chiropractic physician, a physiatrist, or any combination of these specialists.
Rehabilitation specialists can assist patients through the three primary aspects of rehabilitation: stretching, strengthening, and aerobic conditioning. Professionals in the field of rehabilitation will create an exercise routine that is appropriate for each patient and will provide instruction to ensure that patients are trained in the proper technique and form to execute these exercises safely. Below is a brief explanation of these three areas of rehabilitation:
- Stretching: Back injuries often result in inactivity, which causes the muscles to become stiff, thereby reducing a patient’s range of motion. Stretching exercises focus on restoring flexibility and elasticity to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
- Strengthening: Doctors agree that strengthening exercises aid patients more than stretching alone, and can decrease the risk of future episodes of back pain. Strengthening exercises focus on extending the spine (for patients who have experienced pain due to spinal cord compression), and teaching the back muscles to support the position of the “normal” spine.
- Aerobic conditioning: Low-impact aerobic conditioning is important during rehabilitation from back pain, and in the prevention of future back pain. Patients who are aerobically fit are more likely to maintain a healthy level of physical activity, and are less likely to experience recurring back pain. Some examples of low-impact aerobic conditioning exercises include water therapy, walking, and bicycling (on a stationary bike).
Chronic back pain severely impacts a person’s day-to-day life and limits their physical capabilities. If you are looking for treatment for severe back pain, the doctors at Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin can help. Contact us at your earliest convenience to learn more about our full range of spine treatments.