Conservative Care for Back Surgery

Written by Dr Douglas Briggs. Posted in Family Health.

Conservative Care for Back Surgery for Family HealthBack pain is an extremely common medical ailment, affecting eight of 10 people during their lifetimes. Lower back pain is the most common type of back pain, and is the No. 2 reason people in America visit the doctor. So it goes without saying that back pain is the most common reason that patients come to our office.
Lower back pain can be sharp, stabbing, tingling , or burning. Patients also characterize it as a dull, lingering ache that causes stiffness. The pain or numbness may travel down the legs, as well. Lower back pain can also make it difficult to stand upright, since the lower back supports much of your body’s weight.

Acute or Chronic Lower Back Pain?

Acute lower back pain can last a few days or a few weeks. Chronic lower back pain is typically defined as pain that has lasted longer than three months.
Acute lower back pain is often caused by sudden injury. It can also be associated with a host of activities, such as lifting improperly at home, excessively strenuous housework or yardwork, repetitive bending, or movements related to a specific occupation. “Weekend Warriors” are particularly susceptible to this kind of back pain. This may be the person who decides to hike a long trail in the mountains, ski, swim, run or bike longer than usual. Sports injuries and other traumas, such as being in a car accident or any other slip or fall can trigger muscle strain or damage the ligaments of the lower back. All of these activities can cause lower back pain.
On the other hand Chronic lower back pain may be a result of repetitive stress or re-injuring an area repeatedly over a period of time.

Other Causes of Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain may also be a result of an overly sedentary lifestyle. Sitting for extended periods of time can cause stress to your joints and ligaments, including the spinal and pelvic joints. Long-term stress on the joints and muscles in your lower back may cause pain as well. Weak core muscles cause poor posture, which also can contribute to lower back pain. Most back pain is not caused by arthritis, infection, or cancer, but by simple strain or stress on muscles and ligaments.

Other causes of lower back pain include
 A ruptured or herniated disk
 Sciatica
 Narrowing of the spinal canal, also called spinal stenosis
 Osteoporosis, which can cause compression fractures to the spine
 Fracture
 Scoliosis or other curvature of the spine, often found in children and teens
 Any other pathology of the spine

Chiropractic Treatment for Lower Back Pain
Chiropractors use a variety of methods to treat lower back pain. A common treatment for lower back pain is a spinal manipulation or an adjustment. A chiropractic adjustment restores spine and nervous system function to reduce pain and help with healing. In a recent study, patients who sought chiropractic care for lower back pain improved more and were far more satisfied with their chiropractic care after one month, than those who had sought standard medical care. Chiropractors are also able to use a number of therapy modalities like muscle stim or ultrasound to reduce pain and promote healing. Acupuncture – sometimes called dry needling – may also be used for pain relief. Exercise is important to help stabilize the spinal muscles once the pain and spasm are better and the joint motion is restored.

What About Back Surgery?

It is important to take care of your body, especially your spine. Just like seeing the dentist to treat or prevent cavities, or taking your car for an oil change before the check engine light comes on – seeing the chiropractor can help to offset much of the normal wear and tear on the body that leads to irritation, degeneration, and damage to the spine. Unfortunately, not everyone gets conservative care to take care of their spine. Sometimes there is damage or injury is bad enough that surgery is the only option. Even if you have a spinal condition that requires surgery, conservative care can still be a part of your regimen to get better and back to normal life.
The standard of care for surgery has changed a lot in the past decades. Back surgery used to imply weeks if not months of bed rest before a long and painful recovery. Modern surgery is typically minimally invasive and geared toward a quick recovery. Although pain medication is often necessary after surgery, it can also delay your body’s ability to heal – this makes alternative treatments even more helpful to control pain and help your body heal.
There are a number of treatment options before surgery to help reduce pain and improve your odds for a faster recovery. The better condition you are in going into the surgery – the better you will tolerate the procedure and your chances for a quicker recovery improve. Conservative treatments such as chiropractic care and acupuncture can help relax spasm and pain; spinal decompression traction can help get the pressure off of discs and joints in the spine; and controlled stretching and exercise can improve your back strength and function before surgery.
Although proactive care before surgery is important, follow up care after surgery is even more important to a full recovery. Certainly manipulation to an area after surgery is not the first line of treatment, but there are many other treatments a chiropractor can provide – therapy modalities, acupuncture, massage, and post-surgical rehabilitation are all very appropriate options. Your chiropractic physician will perform a thorough evaluation and coordinate an appropriate care plan with your surgeon to help you maximize your recovery. After alleviating pressure and inflammation through treatment, a trained chiropractic physician will work with you to strengthen the surrounding muscles in order to prevent problems from becoming chronic. They will also advise you on a program of exercises and stretches to reduce or relieve lower back pain in the future.

Exercises for Lower Back Pain

Of course the best way to deal with back surgery is to avoid it altogether. A chiropractic physician will work with you to develop a care plan specific to your individual needs. In addition to therapy modalities and manipulation, exercise is key to spinal health. There is no one program that meets everyone’s needs. Make sure you talk to your chiropractor about the right care for you. Of course there are a few practices you can follow to take care of your back:

Make sure you have an ergonomic workstation to reduce strain on the spine and encourage good posture. A chiropractic physician can advise you on how to adjust your workstation to benefit your posture.
If you are experiencing painful inflammation, icing for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off relieves soreness.
When your back hurts, the last thing you want to do is move. But staying still can actually be worse for your health, especially if your occupation involves sitting still for long periods of time. Frequent stretching and core-strengthening exercises can help you avoid worsening lower back pain.
If you are constantly on the move at work, make sure you’re using proper lifting techniques and avoid movements that put excess pressure or strain on the spine. Warm up and stretch before strenuous activities.
Hydration and a healthy diet also are important. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes and sleep on a supportive mattress and pillow to minimize spinal stress.

If you have back pain, or questions regarding your back, talk to your chiropractor. There are a number of treatment options that are safe and effective in helping to manage back pain – both before and after surgery. If you are facing spinal surgery, consider an evaluation with a chiropractor who provides post-surgical spinal rehabilitation as part of your recovery plan.

DRBRIGGSHEADSHOTDr. Douglas Briggs, Chiropractic Physician and Acupuncturist, is the senior associate of First State Health and Wellness—Wilmington, which is recognized by the American Chiropractic Association Rehabilitation Council and the Laser Spine Institute as an approved post-surgical spine rehabilitation facility. To schedule a free initial consultation, visit or call 302.654.4001.
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