Why Does My Back Still Hurt After Lumbar Disc Removal?
By Western Berks on January 12th, 2016
First, ask yourself if the discectomy was performed to alleviate leg pain or lower back pain. While you can expect good results from lumbar disc removal when the goal is relieving leg pain, generally lumbar disc removal is less successful at relieving lower back pain, and a significant number of patients will experience additional disc injury. However, you can take several steps to promote the best possible outcome.
- Give physical therapy a chance. A rehabilitation regimen should last for several months, sometimes up to a year, after spine surgery. In this time, the physical therapist works on strengthening and conditioning your back—and the core muscles that support your back—to lessen discomfort. Remember, too, that the longer you had pain prior to surgery, the longer you need for complete rehabilitation.
- Evaluate your lifestyle. If you are overweight, try to lose weight—the extra pounds could be putting undue strain on your newly repaired back. Be very conscious of your posture when sitting, standing and especially lifting; if you need tips on body mechanics, we will be glad to help. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help when lifting heavy or bulky objects. Plan ahead—know what you are lifting and the proper way to lift it.
- Be aware of scar tissue. Many patients form scar tissue (epidural fibrosis) after back surgery, but it becomes a problem for only a few. If your postsurgical pain began about six to 12 weeks after the procedure and has become gradually worse, then scar tissue may be the culprit.
Western Berks Physical Therapy can help you pinpoint the cause of your pain and recommend whether further medical attention is needed. Sometimes a procedure such as diagnostic imaging (CT scan, x-ray, MRI) is warranted to help get a better picture—literally—of what’s going on in your back. Although the surgery is successful for the vast majority of people, some patients will have residual pain after lumbar disc removal, and not all patients will achieve complete pain-free function.