Since any surgical site will heal with scar tissue, some surgeons feel that to minimize scarring of the nerve root, gentle stretching exercises should be done in the early postoperative period.
The stretching exercises should be done about 5 to 6 times a day for 6 to 12 weeks, since this is the time period in which the scarring occurs
The safest way to stretch is to lie down and maximally flex the hips and gradually extend the knee. This maneuver will also stretch the hamstring muscles, which is important for rehabilitation of the back.
It is generally advisable to do the stretching exercises frequently and gently. Stretching too hard may result in pain, and one should only take the stretch to the point of pain, and not beyond, to avoid inflaming the nerve.
Find examples of these stretches at:
Comfortable clothing and body positioning, and frequent ice application (especially in the first 48 to 72 hours) can also aid in pain management. Icing after activity such as walking and stretching can also be beneficial. Early on, the application of heat to the surgical area can increase blood flow to the tissues and may cause slight increase in swelling and pain so should instead be considered at a later point. Heat can be helpful early on to relieve tension or muscle pain in other regions of the body and might be worth trying. Often pain and stiffness will improve in response to frequent position change, or short walks either indoors or outdoors.
Regular physical activity help prevent constipation, makes you feel better about yourself, helps manager your weight, improves large back muscle tone and core strength and can prevent future episodes of back pain. It is important to let pain be your guide and balance activity with rest early after surgery.
During the first two weeks after surgery the walking goal is 1-3 miles per day or walking for 1 hour. You can divide this up during the day as tolerated.
Vanessa had years of neck pain leaving her unable to even do her daily work. But with Dr. Wascher’s quick and timely intervention that included multiple viewings of MRIs, muscle and nerve tests, followed by a 3-Level Anterior Cervical Fusion, she is now happy without any neck issues. “I can happily say that by following the recommendations of Dr. Wascher, I am now pain-free,” says Vanessa as she talks about how great Dr. Wascher and his team were to work with.
Chad was experiencing numbness in the fingers of his right hand, which spread to the middle of the back and spread to other parts of the body. Dr. Wascher and his team offered timely help, from a medical opinion, to actually performing the surgical procedure. From Dr. Wascher who, as Chad says, “held my hand the whole time, and answered all my questions promptly” to David Bond (Nurse practitioner) who helped Chad through the recovery process, the whole team quickly and comfortably turned things around from not being able to sleep to leading a much more comfortable life.