Physical therapy after back surgery

Physical therapy can help speed your progress after back surgery. Treatment focuses on strengthening trunk (core) musculature properly and managing any residual post surgical pain. The core muscles surround the trunk like a cylinder and are important in maintaining good posture and supporting the back. Many patients with back problems present with a diastasis recti. This is the result of stretching of the connective tissue that runs from the bottom of the sternum (xiphoid process) to the pubic bone (pubic ramus). It can be felt as a dip or hollow area between the two halves of the rectus abdominis when lying on your back. It can be seen as a raised area that runs from the bottom of the sternum to the belly button when lifting your head (lying on your back). Proper strengthening of the rectus abdominis muscle is critical for providing support to the back. It is also important to avoid aggressive stretching following surgery, especially following a fusion or discectomy. It is possible to either prevent the fusion from healing or to cause a herniation of the discs above or below the surgical level. A partial discectomy results in a weakened area where the excess tissue has been removed and is at risk for further herniation with aggressive stretching. Post surgical pain is managed with manual therapy, usually massage techniques, and modalities such as ultrasound and electrical stimulation.

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