Degenerative Disc Disease nonsurgical rehabilitation often involves a physical therapist followed by home exercises. The first goal of treatment is to control symptoms. Your therapist will work with you to find positions and movements that ease pain. The therapist may use heat, cold, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation to calm pain and muscle spasm. Occasionally, injections or medication is utilized to facilitate the goals of therapy by making therapy easier to do.
The therapist may perform hands-on treatments such as massage and specialized forms of soft-tissue mobilization. These can help a patient begin moving with less pain and greater ease. Spinal manipulation provides short-term relief of degenerative disc symptoms. Commonly thought of as an adjustment, spinal manipulation helps reset the sensitivity of the spinal nerves and muscles, easing pain and improving mobility. It may not provide effective long-term help when used routinely for chronic conditions.
Traction is also a common treatment for degenerative disc problems. Traction gently stretches the low back joints and muscles. Patients are also shown stretches to help them move easier and with less pain.
As you recover, you will gradually advance in a series of strengthening exercises for the abdominal and low back muscles. Working these core muscles helps patients move more easily and lessens the chances of future pain and problems.
A primary purpose of therapy is to help you learn how to take care of your symptoms and prevent future problems. You’ll be given a home program of exercises to continue improving flexibility, posture, endurance, and low back and abdominal strength. The therapist will also discuss strategies you can use if your symptoms flare up.
Rehabilitation after surgery is more complex. Some patients leave the hospital shortly after surgery. However, some surgeries require patients to stay in the hospital for a few days. Patients who stay in the hospital may visit with a physical therapist in the hospital room soon after surgery. The treatment sessions help patients learn to move and do routine activities without putting extra strain on their backs.
During recovery from surgery, patients should follow their surgeon’s instructions and be cautious about overdoing activities in the first few weeks after surgery.
Many surgical patients need physical therapy outside of the hospital. Patients who’ve had lumbar fusion surgery normally need to wait up to three months before beginning a rehabilitation program. They typically need to attend therapy sessions for eight to 12 weeks and should expect full recovery to take up to six months.
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