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16 Sep 2007

Post back-op
I am 29 and I'm having a spinal fusion operation in a couple of weeks' time. I am trying to get a little fitter and lose a little weight before my op, even though I'm not overweight, because I believe it will help me recover from the operation more easily.

After the op, would transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) on my abdominal muscles help at all, or should I rather just "enjoy the rest". Do you have any other tips for preparing for surgery, and how to best recover after surgery?

And something I'm not sure how big an effect it has on my back and back pain - wearing heels. I try to avoid it, but I do miss the bit of glamour it adds to a summer wardrobe.

Some detail on my back problem - herniated/ruptured disc between L5 & S1 pushing on a nerve. Operation is scheduled for late November. My father had a similar operation 13 years ago, except they fused 3 of his vertebrae.
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Expert
FitnessDoc
fitnessdoc

01 Jan 0001

HI Syllable

After the op, priority number one is to rest and recovery. Enjoy it and take it easy, if you will! It's also a bit dicey to try to return to exercise too soon, for obvious reasons and the use of TENS is included. There does come a point however where they do recommend the use of TENS, particularly in the early phase, but it's a method used by a physical therapist more to control pain than aid recovery. And so your particular situation is going to determine just how to go about this - I wouldn't just use it 'randomly'.

As for the other components of your recovery, obviously the person best placed to help is the surgeon and the team who perform the surgery for you. So it would be foolish to do anything other than what is recommended.

But exercise is certainly important as a component of your post-op recovery. But it comes later, the first phase is to control pain, and this is done using, among other techniques, ice, TENS and obviously rest.

The next step will involve active rehab. Here, you would receive a training program that is tailored specifically for you, taking into account the specific surgery, body type and tissue conditions.

One would then focus on muscle facilitation with areas where the muscles may need special retraining to gain strength and provide stability following the back surgery. This type of exercise therapy may focus on muscles in the incision area, muscles that may have been weakened by nerve problems before the surgery, and small muscles that work around each vertebra and help stabilize the spine. Most people (even those without spine problems) do not use these muscles very often. However, if these small muscles are trained properly, they can provide excellent stabilization that can protect the spine and protect the newly operated area to prevent future problems.

Once that rehab is done, then you return to normal exercise. Things like Pilates are excellent, as they focus a lot on the same muscles you'll work on in the immediate rehab phase.

As for the high heels, I must confess I don't know. I'm sceptical, I suspect that it's more likely to affect the calves and achilles tendons than the back, but of course anything that loads the spine more might affect it. I'd be guessing though...

Good luck with the operation, take it easy after the op, and do the exercises at the right time.

Regards
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
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