Maximizing Back Surgery Recovery With Yoga
Because there are so many cases of back pain, more and more Americans are opting for back surgery. In fact, over 1 million back surgeries happen every year, with more than half completed on the lower back. Surgery can help with chronic pain, stiffness, sciatica, and other severe symptoms. However, the surgery is only as good as the level of care taken during recovery. Doctors and physical therapists agree that yoga may be able to speed up and improve recovery after surgery.
Why choose back surgery?
Although surgery rates are pretty high, most cases of back pain benefit from non-surgical treatment. Most back surgeries involve resolving a herniated disc or degenerated disc. Discs are located in the spine, separating the vertebrae. Each helps with shock absorption and some degree of flexibility. Typical procedures include spinal fusions and disc removal. If these conservative methods fail, then a surgeon will suggest surgery. Back surgery has also risen in popularity due to minimally invasive techniques. Now, these procedures are safer, more successful, and have faster recovery times. Even with minimally invasive methods, the recovery process can make or break the procedure.
Why recovery is vital for back surgery
Despite the thousands of successful procedures, the risks for surgery are still high. Surgeries can even fail, creating a condition called failed back surgery syndrome. Failed surgeries can result in more pain and the need to operate again. A proper recovery ensures the surgery heals as quickly as possible. More importantly, recovery helps the surrounding bones and muscles to support the new structure of the spine.
Why yoga can help
Back surgery can take 3-6 months for a full recovery. In some cases, the bones will take up to a year for a complete fusion. The surgeon often suggests physical therapy from the second month of healing, a combination of massage, stretching, and exercise. Adding yoga helps to strengthen the back and improves flexibility. Research also shows that yoga boosts the immune system and may reduce oxidative stress. By lowering these markers, recovery is faster and easier. The benefits of yoga also go beyond recovery. Each posture teaches proper body alignment, posture, and awareness, which can prevent future injury.
Beyond the physical
Yoga has an additional benefit that goes beyond strength and flexibility. Managing pain can be a physical and emotional strain. Patients can experience pain relief through stretching and increasing blood flow. This brings the additional benefit of peace, balance, and mindfulness, which can help with pain management. Research has shown a direct relation between mindfulness and pain management.
Be careful with yoga
Without a doubt, yoga can significantly improve and increase recovery. Consistent practice helps the spine, relieves tension, and even improves the immune system. At the same time, yoga can be dangerous. Advanced yoga moves can cause injury or damage to any work done by surgery. Avoid movements that involve excess twisting or bending, at least during the recovery period. Consult a doctor and yoga instructor for guidance, starting with simple poses once per week.
Add yoga to your recovery today
Back surgery can help with chronic pain, stiffness, and weakness. However, surgery works with a solid recovery plan. Adding a basic yoga flow improves flexibility, strength, and mindfulness. While yoga may speed up recovery, do not attempt yoga poses without medical advice first. Another helpful option is to ask a yoga instructor for a list of simple but effective poses to help with recovery. Even with medical approval, paying close attention to pain during yoga can limit the chances of injury.