Many people take over the counter medication, such as Advil or Tylenol to get through their day with back pain. Millions of people nationwide take stronger prescription pain medicine, which has strong side effects. However, what most people do not understand is that pain pills only mask the pain; they don’t fix the underlying mechanical problem. It’s like turning the radio up in your car to drown out the squeaking noise from a bad car part that needs fixing.
With pain medication many people actually have worsening pain over time, because their mechanical problem gets worse. In fact, it is very common to increase injury to the spine, because you do not feel the pain. Pain is your body’s natural way of telling you to stop stressing the area. Once pain medications no longer seem to be effective, many people consider the next option: back surgery.
Types of back surgeries:
Laminectomy: A laminectomy, the most common of back surgery, is a surgical procedure that removes a portion of the vertebral bone called the lamina, which is the roof of the spinal canal. It is a major spine operation with residual scar tissue and may result in post-laminectomy syndrome. Spine surgeons perform back surgery to reduce or eliminate chronic back or leg pain due to spinal nerve compression. Should surgery fail to achieve all of its desired outcomes, the result is known as Post-Laminectomy Syndrome.
Fusions: Spinal fusion, also called spondylodesis or spondylosyndesis, is a neurosurgical or orthopedic surgical technique that joins two or more vertebrae. This procedure can be performed at any level in the spine and prevents any movement between the fused vertebrae.
Discectomy: A discectomy is the surgical removal of abnormal disc material that presses on a nerve root or the spinal cord. The procedure involves removing a portion of an intervertebral disc, which causes pain, weakness or numbness by stressing the spinal cord or radiating nerves.
What are some of the things I can do to fix my herniated or bulging disk?
Traction: Spinal traction is a form of decompression therapy that relieves pressure on the spine. It can be performed manually or mechanically. Spinal traction is used to treat herniated discs, sciatica, degenerative disc disease, pinched nerves, and many other back conditions.
People with spinal conditions benefit from this therapy because the traction reverses the force of gravity. It is most commonly used to treat:
- Slipped Discs
- Bone Spurs
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Herniated Discs
- Facet Disease
- Foramina Stenosis
- Pinched Nerves
Core stability: Many people don’t realize how important a strong core is to their spinal health. Your core (abdominal) muscles help your back muscles support your spine. When your core muscles are weak, it puts extra pressure on your back muscles. Your physical therapist may teach you core stabilizing exercises to strengthen your back.
Flexibility: Learning proper stretching and flexibility techniques will prepare you for aerobic and strength exercises. Flexibility helps your body move easier by warding off stiffness.
Muscle strengthening: Strong muscles are a great support system for your spine and better handle pain. Your physical therapist will teach you ways to condition and strengthen your back to help prevent future pain. You may learn self-care principles so you understand how to best treat your symptoms. The ultimate goal is for you to develop the knowledge to maintain a pain-free lifestyle.
It’s essential that you learn how to exercise and condition your back after the formal physical therapy ends. If you don’t implement the lessons you learned during physical therapy, you won’t enjoy its long-term results. By taking care of your back on your own, you may prevent further herniated disc pain and more importantly avoid undergoing unnecessary and risky back surgery.