Had Back Surgery?  Considering Back Surgery?  You need to see this.

Low Back Pain has a huge number of different reasons for starting, and a big number of effects on people that suffer with it.  One thing that the evidence is showing consistently over the last 15 years, is that the deepest muscle in your lower back – Multifidus – becomes fatty, and much less strong, in the presence of back pain.  In addition to some other findings on MRI, such as disc degeneration, herniations, or compression of the nerves, this can cause people to seek a surgical opinion to get relief from their pain.

Ironically, if a person has back surgery, the multifidus muscles mentioned earlier, are the main muscles that are disrupted (read: cut into) so the surgeon can access the nerves and discs underneath.  This means that post-surgery, these muscles are even weaker and inhibited than before.

The problem with this is obvious – if there is not really good pre-operative strength work done for these muscles, or if there is no program to get Multifidus strong and healthy again after the surgery, a weak, sore back can persist post-op – at times causing pain that is just as bad, if not worse, than before.  (Don’t believe me?  Google “Failed Back Syndrome” to see some horror stories)

When people have surgery on their back, and the pain persists, it often misleads them into thinking the surgery was “unsuccessful”.  The reality is that most surgeons are extremely good at removing and repairing tissues – but it may not have been what was needed for the pain.  A lot of the time, it was just more specific conservative rehabilitation was needed.  It may have even avoided surgery in the first place.

The best way to get Multifidus working again is by using the MedX Lumbar Extension Machine.  It is a safe way to isolate Multifidus and your other back muscles that keep you upright.  Load can be gradually added over time to facilitate strengthening, and studies have shown it can restore the muscle back to a healthy state, and have great outcomes in regards to pain.  Patients using the MedX machine after discectomy surgery have decreased post-operative pain and most return to work sooner (reference: Choi et al, 2005).  After most other types of surgery, the goal is to restore activation of the muscles that have been cut through and yet astonishingly, this is not routinely done after lumbar spine surgery in most cases.

Using the MedX Lumbar Extension Machine at any time from 6 weeks post-op and even years after surgery, will ensure you have done everything possible to rehabilitate the “core” muscle of your spine.  Of course, there other exercises that you should complete for your hip muscles as well to ensure you can move smoothly too.  You will feel strong and confident to move – and in most cases any lingering pain should resolve.

If you’re considering spinal surgery, you can also undergo “prehab” – by strengthening Multifidus pre-surgery you can optimise your strength and function.  Many patients have resolved their pain and avoided spinal surgery by engaging in a MedX strengthening program.

Here’s the key takeaway, if you needed shoulder or knee surgery for a chronic condition, your physio or doctor would not allow you to have the surgery without completing several months of targeted rehab, so why should your back be any different?  The MedX is the key to successful spinal muscle rehabilitation.

All staff at The Headache and Pain Management Centre are trained to assess low backs using the MedX Machine – to book an appointment click on the link below, or visit the Contact Us page to find out if we can help you.

By Nikki Rathbone - APA Titled Sports Physiotherapist

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