Physical Therapy
Health & Fitness

Is Back Surgery The Best Option For You? Consider Physical Therapy First

Many people suffer from chronic back pain. Sometimes the symptoms are so intense that you may think surgery is the only solution to relieve the pain. While this is often the case, spinal surgery is a serious matter. The good news is that in many cases, you can prevent back surgery with physical therapy. Therefore, consult your doctor before going under the knife and see if physical therapy is right for you.

Here are some things to consider before you undergo back surgery. Read on to find out if surgery or physical therapy near you is the better option for you.

You May Not Feel Better After Back Surgery

Did you know that first-time back surgeries are successful only half the time? The success rate for subsequent surgeries is even lower. It may happen that your symptoms will not improve after surgery. You may even feel worse and develop new problems you didn’t have before. In the worst-case scenario, you could end up with a long-term disability. Even if you can avoid that, you may feel depressed and anxious after the new issues develop, not to mention the cost and time spent in health care, as surgery requires significant downtime and recovery.

The advantage of physical therapy over surgery is that it is non-invasive and does not require any recovery time. Your physical therapist will tailor a treatment plan to relieve your symptoms, and if you follow the program, you will feel better in a short time without the adverse effects of surgery.

Surgery Only Treats The Symptoms

The main limitation of back surgery is that it corrects symptoms (such as a herniated disc), but it does not address the underlying problem of pain, such as the issues of strength, coordination, and body mechanics of the core muscles. Neither does it automatically result in the necessary lifestyle changes that can prevent back pain from recurring. So if you have had a sedentary lifestyle, smoked, or had nutritional deficiencies, these need to be addressed to reduce back pain. Physical therapy takes a holistic approach, aiming to relieve pain while making recommendations to improve lifestyle factors. Of course, surgery is inevitable in some cases, but often, when the underlying causes are not clear, physical therapy can provide relief.

Physical Therapy Relieves Most Types Of Chronic Pain

Physical therapy is widely regarded as a non-invasive treatment and is preferred for managing most chronic pain types. It’s easy to see why as it has clear advantages over surgery, including cost-effectiveness, safety, and reduced risk of further complications. Therefore, before you go under the knife, it’s worth consulting your doctor and seeing a physical therapist who can help you decide whether surgery, pain medication, or physical therapy is the appropriate treatment for you.

Physical Therapy To Treat Back Pain Works

Research has shown that physical therapy is a safe alternative to surgery and, in most cases, even reduces the need for pain medication, as it can effectively relieve symptoms and prevent recurring problems. Your personalized treatment plan addresses your pain by improving your posture, body mechanics, flexibility, strength and coordination, and working your core muscles. Through therapeutic exercises, manual therapy, breathing techniques, and patient education that develops better health, fitness habits, and lifestyle, you will have a better chance of leading a pain-free life.

How To Avoid Back Surgery

Before you go under the knife, there are alternative treatments to consider. They work in the long term and require some discipline and patience on your part, but they are worth the effort. As always, consult your doctor to find out which approach is the best for you.

Reduce Back Pain With Exercise:

Gentle exercise such as aqua aerobics can take the pressure off your spine, helping to strengthen the muscles in your back while pumping oxygenated blood to the area. If you’re looking for other low-impact physical therapy exercises to avoid back surgery, consult a physical therapist who can develop a personalized treatment plan. Physical therapy exercises can treat back pain even if you have a herniated disc or sciatica pain by working to relieve pressure in the area.

Change Your Diet:

A diet rich in nutrients can help you maintain your healthy weight and lose weight if needed. What’s important is to cut down on junk food and a diet high in sugar, as fat and sugar can lead to inflammation in your spine, which can cause pain and compression in the back area.

Opt For Spinal Manipulation:

Chiropractic care or spinal manipulation by a professional can help to realign the spine and avoid unnecessary surgery if your back pain is caused by a pinched nerve or a disc alignment problem. However, this technique is not suitable for spinal fractures or muscle tears, so consult your doctor before considering spinal manipulation.

Consider Injections:

Corticosteroid injections can provide short- and long-term relief from pain caused by a compressed or irritated nerve. Although you cannot administer the injections on your own, a spine specialist can help you with that.

The Bottom Line

Back surgery is a scary thought, no matter how much pain you’re in, so it’s understandable if you’re looking for a non-surgical solution to relieve your symptoms. Of the alternative treatments available, physical therapy has the advantage of treating both the symptoms and addressing the underlying cause. In addition, by improving muscle tone, coordination, core strength, and flexibility, physical therapy helps you lead a pain-free life.

Dr. Alexandra Chaux is a physical therapist with vast experience in treating back pain. In addition to developing a treatment plan consisting of manual therapy, exercises, and neuromuscular re-education, Dr. Chaux offers specialized services, including myofascial release, functional manual therapy, neuromuscular reeducation, therapeutic yoga and hypopressives. With this personalized approach, you have a great chance of weaning yourself off pain medications and avoiding back surgery altogether.

Contact Chaux Physical Therapy at 805-203-9940 or schedule an appointment online and find out how you can prevent back surgery with physical therapy.

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