There are a number of things you can do after an operation to become fit for normal life again. Post operation treatment, from an occupational therapist or sports injuries therapist, can be as important as the operation itself.
Immediately after your operation, you will be taken from the operating theatre to a recovery room or high level care unit, where you will stay until the doctors feel your condition is stable. You will then be taken back to your ward on a trolley. You will be given painkillers to help relieve pain after the operation. Doctors and nurses will be keen to get you walking as soon as possible, since it is now well known that moderate exercise speeds healing and improves health.
Even after a successful operation, your back is unlikely to be as good as new. The muscles of your back will be weakened by the operation and convalescence and will need to be strengthened. Meanwhile, the secondary problems will still be there and will need to be tackled, perhaps with other forms of therapy.
To a certain extent the recovery process depends on you. The surgery can only be successful if you have the determination to do your part and are prepared to make the effort to recover your strength and fitness. This may include a lengthy course of physiotherapy and perhaps attending a back school if there is one in a hospital nearby.
Normally run by physiotherapists, occupational therapists or sports therapists, under the supervision of doctors, rehabilitation centers specialize in trying to return you to full fitness after your operation. They concentrate on teaching you how to work with any aids you may have been fitted with, such as a corset or a collar, and toning up your muscles to cope.
Support for your Back
The subject of support corsets and collars for back pain is controversial. Advocates maintain that sometimes a painful back or neck needs extra support. They argue that if you are recovering from a back operation, for example, and have to return to work, wearing a corset for a week or so can help you to do so without increasing the risk of a relapse. Or if you have suffered a whiplash type injury, a neck collar can help support the weight of your head while the inflammation around the spinal joints and ligaments subsides and healing begins.
Medical opinion is divided about the advantages and disadvantages of these kinds of supports. Research results are conflicting, with some studies showing that there can be some benefit and others finding no advantage whatsoever.
Most experts do agree, however, that if you try wearing a corset or collar and you find it helps, you should wear it for as short a period of time as possible since it is all too easy to become dependent upon it. Wearing a corset or collar for more than a few weeks can actually do more harm than good because unused muscles may weaken and the spinal joints become stiff in a surprisingly short period.
Corsets for back pain come in all shaped and sizes. Some just cover the lumbar region while others encase you from the lower ribs to the buttocks. They are thought to work in two ways. They increase the pressure in your abdomen and reduce the strain in your lower back, and they restrict your movements. This has the effect of reducing pain and forces you to keep your back straight and to bend your knees while lifting and carrying out other daily activities.
Collars are believed to support the weight of your head and take pressure off the vertebrae in your neck. Corsets and collars also keep your back or neck warm and this, combined with the support they provide, can help muscles that are tense or in spasm relax, easing pain.
Corsets and collars can be bought in shops specializing in equipment for back pain or by mail order and are also often available through the health services and, particularly, via physiotherapy clinics. If you are going to use a corset or collar it is important that it is the right one for you and that it fits correctly, take advice from your doctor or from a physiotherapist before buying one.