Returning to Sports After Back Surgery

Surgery of any kind is a serious undertaking that requires a fair bit of time and patience on your part. But when it comes to your back, you need to be especially mindful of not pushing yourself too far or too fast after surgery.

At Spine Group Beverly Hills, under the expert leadership of orthopedic spine surgeon Dr. John Regan, we work diligently to find the best solutions for our patients in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, California. By taking into consideration the source of your back pain, your limitations, and your lifestyle, we endeavor to get you back to your active life, free from back pain, with the least amount of disruption possible.

Make no mistake: Back surgery is a disruption, but it’s one that will deliver you from the prison in which back pain can trap you. So, if you’re champing at the bit to return to sports after back surgery, here’s what you should know.

Factors to consider

One of the first things our patients ask us about back surgery is how long it will be until they can move freely again. And the answer is a complicated one because of the many different variables.

First, everyone is different and heals at their own pace. We’ve been amazed at how quickly some of our patients bounce back after surgery, while others follow a more conservative, and predictable, timeline. The bottom line is that your body heals at whatever speed its capable of as it rebuilds your tissue on a cellular level. Still, you can do your part to help the healing process along.

Second, we offer a number of different surgical options, including:

Each of these procedures is different in terms of the degree to which we need to disrupt the area. For example, a discectomy is a laparoscopic procedure in which we remove a piece of your herniated disc. A disc replacement surgery, on the other hand, is a far more complex procedure that requires a far longer recovery period.

One line that divides the recovery process is whether we surgically treat only soft tissue problems in your back or whether we need to deal with bony structures. Bone takes more time to heal, which means months rather than weeks.

Doing your part

When it comes to your recovery period, there’s a lot you can do to help everything go as smoothly, and quickly, as possible. First and foremost, please follow our instructions about activity levels to the letter. If we’ve banished you to the couch for several weeks, use this time to catch up on some TV or reading, and resist the urge to test drive your back.

When we greenlight you to start moving a little more, we recommend you to do so under the expert guidance of a physical therapist. We can work with the therapist to come up with the best plan for your unique situation. Through stretching and strengthening exercises, your hard work in PT will pay off, often enabling you to get back to your active life more quickly.

And do get some rest — meaning proper, uninterrupted sleep. This kind of sleep is restorative, and your body uses this time to scan itself, sending in additional resources where needed.

Back on the field

While recovery is different for everyone, there are some general rules of thumb about returning to activity after back surgery, depending upon which type you undergo, which are:

Again, much depends upon how you navigate your recovery period. But we want to emphasize that patience after back surgery is often rewarded with a return to pain-free movement, which only helps your future game.

If you have more questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Or you can use the online scheduling tool to set up an appointment to consult with Dr. Regan.

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