Failed Back Surgeries
I have seen several patients come in to my Vineland clinic complaining about their failed back surgeries and how they are still in pain. Firstly, it is important to understand that most back surgeries are not failures, surgeons consistently do what they say they are going to do, although that’s not to say that in some cases a mistake has been made, or the patient hasn’t responded to treatment as effectively as expected. There are several factors that must be understood and taken into account regarding surgery to the back, and patients often neglect things they need to do following surgery. This post deals with three things that you need to be aware of if you are considering surgery or have just had it.
Before we continue, my belief is that all attempts to correct or help and back or neck problem should be thoroughly investigated and tried before even considering surgery. Chiropractic care, pain management doctors, orthopedics, and physical therapy can all help. It may not be one specific doctor that can help, it may be a team effort that will help the patient. But if no solution is found in these treatments, then surgery may be the best solution.
When I see patients who say they’ve had surgery and it hasn’t worked, I normally dig a little deeper and ask questions. The vast majority of cases I have experienced have one thing in common. They haven’t fully followed the surgeons directions. What typically happens is the patient has surgery to fuse the spine, or shave a bit of a disc that has herniated, or even replace a disc with a spacer. They are told by the surgeon that they will require physical therapy treatments to help the body to heal properly, to prevent scar tissue and adhesions from building up, and to encourage a normal range of motion. What tends to happen is patients go to two or three of these sessions, feel great, and then stop going. They stop the follow up treatment which is designed to help them heal properly and to train the back how to work again.
The problem is that the back is an incredible flexible construction, and has been “designed” to work a certain way. When surgeons go in and fix the back, it changes that dynamic of the back and how it operates. For example, a fused spine means that part of the spine will never work again as it should. This puts increased stress on the joints directly above and below it, and will cause degeneration at a faster rate than a normal person would experience. Simply because the back does not work as it once used to.
The first point then is to follow the surgeons instructions and advice as much as you possibly can. Do not stop follow up treatment because you feel better.
Secondly, just because you have back surgery does not mean that your problems are fixed and are over. Once you are healed and have completed your follow up physical therapy treatment, is is very important to take extra care of your back to keep it functioning as well as possible. Regular chiropractic care is key to this and depending on your condition anywhere from once a week to every other month will be necessary to prevent future problems. Adjustments will put the spine back into alignment, will break up adhesions and scar tissue, will reduce inflammation and most importantly, will decompress the joints and ease pressure on those discs. And if anything does flare up get in to get it checked as soon as possible.
There is a third important aspect to preventing failed back surgeries and that is regular exercise and stretches at home. Your physical therapist most likely will have prescribed some exercises to do, so keep doing them. We can give you some great exercises to do as well, but the whole point is to keep your back from getting worse and to keep range of motion consistent. Even things like yoga can help, but it’s vital to keep the back moving.
All of these factors can and will help you to keep a healthy back and to help prevent future issues. Chiropractic care has been proven to be the number one way to help prevent surgery in the first place, but a key component to helping patients after surgery.