If you have low back pain or sciatica, you may benefit from working with a physical therapist to help you manage your condition. Here at Miller-PT, we can help you decrease your pain and improve your mobility with specific therapeutic exercises and postural correction. We offer preventive care and personalized programs to keep you healthy and moving.
There's no prescription needed to see a PT in Florida, but if you'd like us to work closely on your progress with your doctor, we are happy to.
If exercise, postural correction, or other physical therapy treatments fail to give you adequate relief of your symptoms, you may need to visit your doctor to consider other options. Occasionally, your symptoms may be so severe that you require surgery to obtain relief from your low back pain or sciatica.
A lumbar discectomy and laminectomy are common surgeries used to help give you relief from painful symptoms originating from your back. These surgical procedures are intended to decrease pressure on the nerves coming from your back that are causing your sciatica. If you do require a surgical procedure on your spine to manage your symptoms, you may benefit from physical therapy after surgery to help you return fully to your previous level of function. Your surgeon can make specific recommendations about your post-operative course and can help you choose the right physical therapist for you.
After your lumbar surgery, you may be feeling well with little or no sciatic symptoms. Your back may be sore from surgery, but you should quickly be feeling very little pain. You may start to question if you even would benefit from physical therapy after lumbar laminectomy.
Research indicates that people who participate in physical exercise after lumbar discectomy tend to have better outcomes when compared to patients who do not engage in regular exercise.
Your physical therapist can help you determine the correct exercises to perform after the surgery.
In general, you should expect to start physical therapy 4 to 6 weeks after your lumbar laminectomy or discectomy. If there were any post-operative complications like infection or excessive bleeding, then you may need to wait a bit longer. Conversely, if things have been smooth sailing after your surgery, you may start PT sooner. After your lumbar discectomy, you should have a discussion with your doctor about when to start rehabilitation.
Once you have your lumbar laminectomy or discectomy surgery and your doctor has cleared you to start physical therapy, you will need to make an appointment at a local physical therapy clinic. During your first visit, your physical therapist will conduct an initial evaluation and assessment. Components of the initial evaluation include, but are not limited to:
The results of your specific evaluation will help your physical therapist develop a treatment plan after your lumbar laminectomy. Occasionally, your doctor may want you to follow a specific post-operative protocol, and your physical therapist can help you stay on track.
There may be various components of your physical therapy care, so be sure to ask questions about the treatment that you receive. Common treatments after lumbar laminectomy and discectomy include exercise, physical modalities, and scar massage.
A post-operative exercise program should be one of the main focuses of your rehab following lumbar laminectomy. Studies indicate that people who engage in exercise after back surgery have superior outcomes compared to those who do not exercise.
Specific exercises include progressive lumbar ROM exercises and hip and core strengthening exercises. If your physical therapist found a weakness in a muscle group due to pre-operative compression of a nerve, specific exercises may focus on that muscle. Cardiovascular exercise like treadmill walking may also be prescribed to help improve your overall functional endurance. Your PT can teach you how to properly monitor your exercise intensity.
Your physical therapist may also prescribe exercises to increase overall flexibility in your hamstrings, calves, and quadriceps muscles.
Since postural control is such an important component of maintaining spinal health, your physical therapist should teach you how to sit properly. Exercises like the slouch-overcorrect procedure may be useful to attain proper posture.
If you are experiencing pain following your surgery, your physical therapist may choose to use certain physical modalities to help control your pain. Modalities like electrical stimulation and TENS may be used to help control your pain.
Heat may be used to help relax muscles and improve circulation around your back, and ice may be used to help decrease swelling and pain near your surgical site.
Care should be exercised when using physical modalities. Research shows that some treatments may not offer the proposed benefits.
Your physical therapist is a movement expert, so if you are only receiving passive treatments like heat or ice, you should question whether you are receiving the best care for your back.
If your physical therapist finds tightness around your surgical incision, he or she may engage in specific scar mobilization techniques.
In general, your physical therapy episode of care should last anywhere from three to six weeks. Your physical therapist should ensure that you have a program in place to continue exercising. He or she should also make sure you know what to do if low back pain or sciatica strikes again.
An important component of your physical therapy program is to learn how to prevent future problems with your back. Your physical therapist can help you determine risk factors that may lead to low back pain or sciatica. Methods to prevent future back problems include:
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so be sure to do everything you can to prevent your back pain or sciatica from returning.
Physical therapy should be the first choice when managing the pain and functional limitation that may come with an injury, accident, or surgery. Your therapist can help you regain normal motion and strength and help you return to your previous level of activity. It's a good place to start!
Contact us today to schedule your next PT appointment: 561-278-6055. Make sure to ask us about our NEW way to treat you remotely via telehealth!