Spine injuries and conditions are quite common, particularly disc herniations, slipped or bulging discs, back and neck strains and sprains, spine arthritis and disc degeneration. People suffering from these problems experience soreness, stiffness, pain, pain triggered by movement, and a limited range of motion. If the condition worsens, they can even have loss of sensation or strength; numbness and tingling; a fever, chills, sweats, or weight loss with back or neck pain. Some may even have the pain from their neck radiate into the arms, or have their back pain slowly affect their legs. Extreme cases can even involve loss of bladder or bowel control.
Even if you decide to undergo surgery to fix the problem with your spine, you still need to make sure the problem doesn’t happen again. Spinal problems can be avoided by doing a couple of preventive measures. While age may be a factor in most bone problems, strengthening muscles, stretching and other simple exercises or lifestyle changes can reduce your risk.
Rehabilitation aims to make sure you gain full use and strength in your spine after surgery or injury. This process begins with a recommendation from your primary care doctor to a rehabilitation specialist. There are neurologists who practice in this field. You may also be referred to a physical therapist.
On your first visit, tests will be done to determine the condition of your spine. Even if your rehabilitation specialist already has your medical records, you will still be asked how your problem started, where it hurts, how you feel and how the problem affected your daily routine.
After this, you will undergo a physical exam that will determine what kind of rehabilitation would suit you best. Your posture will be checked, because wrong posture means your spine is not positioned properly. This causes an imbalance that puts pressure on muscles, nerves, and sore joints. An improved posture can help ease the pain.
Your therapist will also look at your range of motion to check if you have full use of your limbs. This will be checked regularly as a sign of progress when treatment starts. As you get better, you’ll be able to regain the maximum range of motion.
Nerve tests will be done to check your reflexes, sensation and strength. This will be able to tell what area of the spine is problematic and will help determine the best treatment option.
A manual exam may also be done. This involves manipulating your body into different positions to check if the joints are moving properly. Soft tissue and muscle may also be examined at this time.
Your therapist may also ask about your routine, such as the movements you use when working or pursuing a regular activity. This would check your ergonomics to see if your lifestyle is worsening your spine condition. If it is, some minor adjustments in your work area or in how you move can improve your spine condition.
Palpation will also be done to check for nerve irritation or inflammation. This would involve checking the skin for changes in temperature or texture. It will also feel around the soft tissues near your spine to see if you have spasms or tender points in the muscles.
After the examination, the therapist will go over the results of your exams and recommend a plan of care. This will include all the treatments to be used for you and maybe some lifestyle changes as well. It will include a prognosis, which is the therapist’s projection of how long you need to undergo therapy to recover from your spine condition.
The goal of therapy is to prevent further spine problems and help control the pain and other symptoms if they return. It can last for several weeks to months, depending on the extent of the problem. Your therapist may recommend that you continue some of the exercises even after therapy to promote spine health.
Therapy may require you to visit a hospital or center several times a week or it may be a home program. You will be asked to visit your doctor periodically to check your progress and see if adjustments need to be made in your treatment plan. Whatever the recommendations of your therapist, it is important to follow the instructions perfectly and ask if anything is unclear. This makes sure that you get the maximum benefit from your therapy.