Updated: May 18, 2021
What is the first thing you do when you hurt or tweak your back?
Do you lie down, sit and not move, or do you hobble around out of fear of making it worse? Let’s face it, when we injure our backs, alarm bells start ringing and our minds and bodies go into
protection mode. This can be very scary and naturally, we stop moving, and in some cases, this is ok, but in almost all
circumstances, moving in a controlled manner is necessary for recovery. It is really important to follow back rehabilitation guidelines that may help prevent further discomfort and aid in a quick recovery.
How can I prevent hurting my back?
Twisting, bending, and lifting items are a part of everyday life. Uncoordinated or uncontrolled movements with a lack of core stability can potentially lead to some form of back irritation. Prevention is better than cure and learning how to look after your back to reduce the risk of injury or even prevent it completely should be your first option. If you do have a light tweak, you will have the knowledge to move safely in order to help alleviate pain. Remember, if the pain is excruciating or if it persists for more than 48 hours - seek medical advice. Most back pain does respond and resolve quickly with a conservative approach to back rehabilitation.
Is back surgery my only option?
Spinal surgery should always be your last resort. Most often it is crucial when the inability of the spine is a serious risk, or pain makes your activities of daily living unbearable. In many cases, the outcome of the back surgery and the conservative approach is the same over a 12month period. Your management should be a holistic approach, and we suggest working closely with your Surgeon, Physiotherapist, and Biokineticist. This will help ensure that your back rehabilitation is best suited to you with the lowest risk. When it comes to spinal surgery, the recovery time varies based on the severity of your injury. A discectomy might take between 6-8 weeks, whilst a laminectomy may take up to 12 weeks. Your surgeon will advise on initial restrictions for lying, walking, driving, and working. Back rehabilitation progressions will also be advised with initial treatment starting with a physiotherapist, and around 6 weeks, progressing to your Biokineticist. Your end stage back rehabilitation is necessary for
regaining full functional control and stability.
What does back rehabilitation entail?
This post-op rehabilitation will include strengthening muscles that will stabilise your spine and improve your balance and your coordination for more complex movements. Lack of movement and spending too much time sitting or lying down can cause a tightening of muscles around the injury or new scar tissue. Remember, surgery is a second injury and your rehabilitation takes this into account, along with spending time on keeping your joints mobile and your muscles flexible.
Do I need to use a back brace?
Another important step in your rehabilitation process is learning to be weaned off your
rehabilitation aids. These injury aids include things such as pain medication, crutches, and back braces to name a few. Learning not to rely on these and preparing your body to cope without them is your best approach for moving forward. Your body is designed to support and hold you up – let it do its job. The best thing is that your body can be re-educated to do what it should post-injury and it can regain strength and the ability to support you and your activities. This will keep you fit and much healthier for longer.
If I am going for surgery, should I just rest?
In the event that your back injury is severe enough to warrant surgery, a good approach is to consult with a Biokineticist to safely pre-habilitate your body in order to prevent further damage and safely gain as much strength as possible prior to surgery. This will help improve your post-op recovery time, allowing you to adjust to normal activity and life as quickly as possible.
If you are unsure of how to look after your back, or you are struggling with back pain and need direction, please get in contact with a Biokineticist. Remember, you only have one back, and it is there for life, so look after it.