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How Physical Therapy Might Help You Recover From Spinal Fusion Surgery

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If you're planning to have spinal fusion surgery, your orthopedic doctor may order physical therapy to help you recover properly. Physical therapy can help with pain, improve your flexibility and strengthen your back muscles. Here are three ways a physical therapist might help when you have spinal fusion surgery.

1. Prepare You For Surgery

Your orthopedist might send you to physical therapy before your surgery. The therapist can teach you exercises that prepare you for surgery so your back is stronger and able to support you better right after surgery. The physical therapist can also teach you changes you need to make at home since your mobility will be limited at first and you'll need to learn how to take care of yourself when you can't bend and stretch normally.

2. Visit You In The Hospital

Some spinal fusion surgeries are done on an outpatient basis, while others require a short hospital stay. If you'll be in the hospital for one or two days, you might get a visit from a physical therapist who'll help you get out of bed, walk, and sit in a chair while you're weak and still having discomfort. The therapist can also teach you gentle stretches and exercises to do when you go home. In the first few weeks, your exercise may be limited to walking longer distances each day.

3. Work On Your Rehabilitation

It might be a few weeks before you undergo a full physical therapy program, depending on the type of spinal fusion surgery you have. When you're ready, the therapist starts you on rehabilitation exercises that strengthen the muscles in your hips, legs, and back. Your muscles may be weak after a long period of limited activity, so building muscle strength through proper exercises will probably be an important part of your recovery.

Stretches are also important to learn. You may be instructed to do stretches daily throughout your recovery and to continue them after that so you can reduce the risk of back injuries. A physical therapist will teach you the exact stretching moves you need to make, and they'll also teach you floor exercises, strength training moves, and exercises with a stretch band or ball that you can continue to do at home on your own. The therapist can also recommend exercise, such as swimming, that you can take up once you've recovered so you can keep your back and body in good shape.

Your therapist might push you to exercise as hard as you can, but you'll never be pushed past your safe tolerance level. Your therapist works with your doctor to help you reach your optimal fitness level, taking into consideration your general health and previous level of fitness.

To learn more, contact a physical therapy clinic.