Post Surgery Rehabilitation
Why visit the right sub-specialist doctor to avoid preoperative misdiagnosis and unnecessary subsequent spinal surgery, improper and/or inadequate postoperative rehabilitation is probably the second most common cause of postoperative back pain.
It often takes months to a year to heal after many of these back surgeries, and a postoperative rehabilitation program that includes stretching, strengthening, and conditioning is an essential part of any successful spine surgery.
In general, the more complex the back surgery and the longer the patient experiences preoperative symptoms, the longer and more difficult postoperative rehabilitation will be. It often makes much more sense to continue rehabilitation after spinal surgery than to consider further surgery (with a few exceptions, such as if there has been a recurrent disc herniation).
Secondary Problems after Spine Surgery
Often, there are other secondary problems that must be resolved after back surgery. For example, patients with a trapped L5 nerve root due to a herniated disc may still require physical therapy afterward because they may have secondary piriformis syndrome. Treating the L5 nerve root relieves the radiculopathy (sciatica) but the patient still has pain in the buttocks due to continued muscle spasm in the piriformis. Until this is successful, the patient will not feel that the back surgery was successful.
Often times, spine surgery is necessary to provide sufficient back pain relief for the patient to begin a rehabilitation program, but it should only be one component of the patient's healing process. Unfortunately, some patients feel that if they have had back surgery, they have been “fixed” and no further treatment is needed. However, this is rare, and continued therapy and rehabilitation are usually required for a successful outcome.
Rehabilitation Considerations after Back Surgery
After spinal surgery, careful follow-up and rehabilitation is essential. If there is persistent pain after surgery despite sufficient time to heal and rehabilitate, then further tests may be needed to find out if there are new lesions or other types of problems that could be causing the patient's pain.
Failed back surgery syndrome is not really a syndrome, and there is no typical scenario. Each patient is different, and follow-up care and patient assessments need to be tailored to the individual's problems and situation.