Injured workers with a herniated disc who undergo surgery must also partake in rehabilitation. After surgery the worker is necessarily unable to work and may be receiving TTD disability benefits while in the healing period. If they are not being paid temporary total disability benefits, we include this as part of the claim if there is a doctor’s authorization off work due to the work-related condition and surgery. Many of our clients with a herniated disc have a discectomy or fusion surgery, often with laminectomy or foraminotomy.
Rehabilitation after surgery is generally more complex than nonsurgical cases. 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 the back.
During recovery from surgery, patients should follow their surgeon’s instructions about wearing a back brace or support belt. They should be cautious about overdoing activities in the first few weeks after surgery.
Many surgical patients need physical therapy outside of the hospital. They see a therapist for one to three months, depending on the type of surgery. At first, therapists may use treatments such as heat or ice, electrical stimulation, massage, and ultrasound to help calm pain and muscle spasm. They provide reassurance to help patients deal with fear and apprehension about pain. Then they teach patients how to move safely with the least strain on the healing back. Exercises are used to improve flexibility, strength, and endurance.
When the treatment is well under way, regular visits to the therapist’s office may end. The therapist will continue to be a resource but the patient is in charge of doing exercises as part of an ongoing home program.
The physical therapist will work closely with the doctor to help the worker get back on the job as quickly as reasonably possible. Occasionally a more intense form of PT, work hardening is recommended. The therapist may suggest changes that could help one work more safely, with less chance of re-injuring the back.
A primary purpose of therapy is to help one learn how to accomplish activities of daily living and prevent future problems. Finally, there will be given a home program of exercises to continue improving flexibility, posture, endurance, and low back and abdominal strength.
McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin represents employees with cervical and lumbar herniated disc injuries. Our attorneys seek disability benefits and medical bill coverage for injured workers.