Dealing with Chronic Pain? Try Physical Therapy Before Surgery
Has persistent and intense back pain begun to overwhelm your life? Maybe you experience stiffness or aches and pains in your back or have shooting pain and numbness in one or both legs.
Sometimes, back pain and associated symptoms can be so disruptive that it becomes a struggle to get through a day at work, sleep through the night, or take care of yourself or your loved ones.
If your back pain has reached an unmanageable level, it can start to feel like surgery is your only option. However, before you consult with a surgeon, talk to your doctor about physical therapy first.
A physical therapist can provide you with lasting and meaningful pain relief in a way that is minimally invasive, safe, and natural. If you’re curious how physical therapy can eliminate the need for surgery, contact Synergy Manual Physical Therapy today. In the meantime, keep reading to learn why surgery may not be the best option for you.
Should I undergo back surgery?
Only you and your doctor can truly answer this question. You know your body better than anyone, and it’s ultimately up to you and your health care provider to decide how to manage your chronic pain.
However, when it comes to your health, it’s extremely important to be informed about your treatment options. And the truth is surgery is not the only option for you, and it may not even be your best option.
The following list illustrates some real concerns you should be aware of before you decide about surgery:
1. It’s possible that you will not feel better after back surgery.
This may be surprising to hear, but research shows only about half of the first-time back surgeries are considered “successful.” The outcomes for additional surgeries demonstrate even worse results, with only 30 percent success rates in second-time surgeries and a 15 percent success rate in third-time surgeries.
The sad reality is that many people find no relief from their symptoms following surgery. In some cases, lengthy recovery periods can lead to patients feeling even worse. This can lead to long-term disability, increased healthcare costs, and mental health concerns including depression.
2. Surgery does not necessarily treat the root cause of your pain.
Let’s say your doctor recommends surgery to correct a herniated disc. A surgical procedure like a discectomy and fusion may correct the herniated disc, but it won’t help you figure out why the issue occurred in the first place.
Was your herniated disc a result of poor posture, body mechanics, a lack of core muscle strength, or poor coordination? Were your hip flexors pulling on your pelvis and increasing stress and pressure in your lower spine? Or was something else contributing to your impaired disc health, such as a sedentary lifestyle, a poor diet, or smoking?
Undergoing surgery doesn’t provide an answer to these questions, but a physical therapist can. And once you can address the underlying causes, your path to pain relief becomes much clearer.
Physical therapy has even proved successful in treating cases of idiopathic cases or back pain, or back pain WITHOUT a clear cause. Examples of idiopathic back pain include herniated discs that present without any symptoms or the presence of chronic pain in patients whose spines seem “perfect” on radiographic imaging.
3. The recovery period can be very long.
The techniques, approaches, and tools used for back surgeries today have advanced considerably. But even minimally invasive back surgeries can require a significant amount of downtime and recovery. For you, this may mean missing out on important life events, an inability to work, and feelings of frustration or boredom.
On the other hand, physical therapy requires no downtime. Your physical therapist can start working with you at any time, regardless of your current fitness level. Your treatment plan can move quickly and safely, and provide you with much-needed relief from your aches and pains. And the best part is, these benefits all come without the risk of serious adverse effects.
4. Physical therapy is often the first treatment option recommended for many types of chronic pain.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes physical therapy and other non-invasive, non-drug treatments as the preferred option for treating and improving most types of chronic pain.
Physical therapy is cost-effective and safe for people with a wide range of health backgrounds. This is different from surgery since the risk of postoperative complications increases in some patients depending on their medical history.
5. Physical therapy has proved successful time and time again.
Decades of research show that physical therapy is effective for improving back pain. When you choose physical therapy, you gain access to a team of skilled movement experts that work with you to develop a treatment plan that perfectly aligns with your needs.
At Synergy Manual Physical Therapy, you will have access to a wide variety of safe and effective treatment options, based on your health condition or injury. Your personalized treatment plan may also depend on your age, weight, and physical ability. Any of the following treatments may be used as part of your treatment plan:
- Manual therapy and spinal manipulation to improve joint mobility and relieve tissue pain
- Hot or cold treatments, or electrical stimulation, for pain relief
- Education on how to take better care of your back, such as proper methods of lifting, bending, sitting, and sleeping positions
- Posture work to provide better support for your back
- Stretching and strength-building exercises
Whether you need to learn how to improve your body mechanics and posture, gain strength and endurance, increase your flexibility in your shoulders or hips, or something else entirely, a physical therapist can support you on your path to a pain-free life.
Your life does not have to be controlled by back pain any longer
If you’re ready to usher in a new phase of your life that is not controlled by chronic back pain, contact our physical therapy office today. Your path to natural and non-invasive healing is right in front of you.