HEALTH AND WELLNESS
Taking care of your spine fusion long term is a necessity. I have found that doctors surgically correct and send us on our way with little follow up or education on maintaining spinal health for the long run. I am 30 years post surgery, 42 years old, and have learned a few tips and tricks for health, wellness, and back care along the way. My background as an Occupational Therapist helped me compose this helpful list below.
BASIC BACK CARE AFTER SPINE FUSION
- Some physicians recommend not lifting more than 15 lbs. I personally keep lifting to a minimum, and use very good body mechanics if I do need to lift.
- Any lifting, pushing, or pulling should be done with good body mechanics. Bend the knees, stick the butt out, and use the legs and glutes to do the work. I have a short video on body mechanics for activities of daily living HERE.
- Keep your core strong. And I'm not just talking about abs! I have a no-sit up core routine HERE.
- If you have a desk job or find yourself sitting for long periods of time, make sure to take movement breaks every half hour. Stand, stretch, walk. Use a "lumbar roll" in your desk chair for low back support, and try to sit with your hips much higher than your knees by using a wedge. If your job requires lifting, it is wise to request accommodations.
- Make sure to set your desk up with good ergonomics. HERE is a video to guide you into proper workspace set up.
- Pace yourself. Our bodies fatigue faster and require more rest. Balance activity with rest and listen to your body when it speaks to you. If your back is fatigued by the end of the day, lie down and elevate your legs. I am a big fan of recliners !
- There are two resources I use when I have neck or low back pain. Treat Your Own Back and Treat Your Own Neck by Robin McKenzie, PT. These were recommended to me by a local Physical Therapist. You can usually find these at www.amazon.com.
- Acupuncture - I have successfully used acupuncture to quiet tense neck muscles and bring a general calm to my nervous system. Trigger point injections can also be helpful for managing myofascial pain as well as Kinesiotaping and massage therapy.
- Physiatrist - We are finding that our orthopedic surgeons are not as skilled at long term follow up and care after spine fusion and most of us do not continue to follow our orthopedists for check ups. A Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician, or "physiatrist" may be better skilled at managing issues that may arise in the musculature or adjacent spinal segments in the years post surgery.