What Is Back Strain? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment of Back Strains

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What is back strain?

Commonly played down, a back strain can be an extremely painful and demobilizing injury which could require strong painkillers and possible treatment. 

Hearing “It’s just a back strain” may not be very comforting when you’re experiencing severe back pain, and while back strain may sound like a minimal back injury, it can cause you a great deal of discomfort. A back strain can result in sleepless nights, back spasms that can cause severe lower back pain and in some cases, immobility. 

Many people with back strains are forced to go to the emergency room for relief and they are not to be taken lightly. 

What is a back strain?

It can be reassuring to understand what a back strain actually is and what part of the body is damaged to help understand potential treatment options and how to take care of your back in the future. 

When the muscles or ligaments in the lower back are strained or torn, the area around the muscles will likely become inflamed. That back inflammation leads to back spasms that can cause your severe back pain and immobility.

What are the symptoms of a back strain?

Symptoms of back strain may range from a mild ache to sudden, debilitating pain often localized in the lower back. The pain of a back strain is likely to be located in the low back, and not radiate down your leg (as with sciatica.) Your back may be sore to the touch, pain comes on suddenly and strongly, you may have those muscle spasms in your lower back, and you might find standing or walking to be more uncomfortable than resting.

A summary of the potential symptoms caused by a back strain:

  • Pain and demobilizing stiffness in the back
  • Pain which spreads to the buttocks and the top of the legs, often in the back of the thigh. 
  • Pain which increases when a person bends over, stretches, coughs or sneezes. 

What causes a back strain?

“How did this happen to me?” is likely the next question on your mind. Back strains are often the result of a movement or movements that put undue stress on the lower back. Motions like lifting a heavy object, lifting multiple heavy objects (such as with landscaping using large rocks or bricks,) lifting and twisting, a sudden and single twisting motion (like your last golf tee-off of the day,) or a fall are just some of the movements that can cause back strain.

Most lower back pain episodes are caused by damage to the muscles and/ or ligaments in the lower part of the back. When you suffer from back strain, you may have one or both of the following:

  • A muscle strain, caused when a muscle is overstretched or torn, resulting in damage caused to the muscle fibers (also called a pulled muscle).
  • A lumbar sprain, caused when ligaments – the tough fibrous tissues connecting the muscles to the bones and joints — are stretched too far or torn.

Strain and sprain are often used interchangeably, since the treatment and prognosis for both of these are the same. So one is not worse than the other, although the amount of pain you’re experiencing may make you think that what you have is indeed the more severe of the two. Especially since you cannot see inside your back, your imagination may conclude that you have something much worse than a back strain or sprain. Patients experiencing pain can often jump to dramatic conclusions and envision difficult treatments ahead.

Fortunately, there are many simple treatments and lifestyle changes which may help. 

How can a back strain be treated?

With a mixture of painkillers and avoiding strenuous activities a person can manage the pain in their back and significantly reduce the sharp pangs of pain that make a back strain almost unbearable. 

However, a person may still experience lower levels of pain, or flare-up of pain further down the line, lasting for weeks, or even months, depending on how severe the strain was. 

To alleviate this pain, self-care is a must to help those stretched or torn muscles, ligaments heal fully. The average recovery time of a back strain is around three-to-four weeks but this can of course vary depending on a person’s health, age, or general fitness levels. 

To help speed up this recovery, we recommended the following treatment which you can apply yourself, without medical consultation. 

  • Use an ice pack on your back to ease pain and reduce swelling as soon as the strain occurs. You can do this for 20-30 minutes and repeat every 3-4 hours until the pain decreases.
  • After 3-4 days if you are experiencing pain, you may also use a heat pack but this is only advised once the swelling has gone down. A hot bath is also recommended.
  • Take Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers, examples of these are; Advil, Aleve and Motrin. However, it is important to use these drugs sparingly as there may be some side effects involved.
  • Try physical therapy to keep active and regain strength in your back. This can maintain muscle tone and help build your abdominal and lower back muscles.
  • Avoid bed rest and try to stick to a normal sleeping pattern as lying or sitting down for long periods of time reduces blood circulation in your back, slowing the healing process.
  • Do not turn down medical support, your doctor or physical therapist is a trained professional, so heed their advice even if staying in bed seems like the easier option.

How to avoid back strains in the future?

There are a number of simple measures a person can take to help prevent back strains in the future. 

  • Exercise your back muscles and stretch them regularly as poor fitness and physical conditioning are some of the main causes of back strains.
  • Although exercise is highly recommended it is advised to know your limits. If you have been exercising regularly, or stepping up your workout plan and suddenly feel pain in your back then take a few days off and rest.
  • If you feel any pain in your back during an activity then immediately stop. Do not try to persevere as this could stretch or tear the muscles or ligaments further.
  • Focus on your sleeping positions and avoid lying on your stomach, instead of sleeping on your back, or side. If it helps you could also place a pillow beneath your legs for support. 
  • Always bend at the knees when lifting heavy objects.
  • Maintain a healthy diet to try and keep your weight at a healthy level. 
  • Focus on your posture and avoid slouching, or hunching while working. 

We hope this article has helped to answer any questions you may have had about back strains and how to prevent such issues in the future.

Can You Get Blood Clots From Spinal Surgery?

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Spinal surgery has made significant advances in both its safety and efficiency in correcting many back problems, from traumatic spinal cord injury to degenerative diseases like spinal stenosis, spondylosis, and slipped disc. Many of these advances in spinal surgery have come in recent years due to minimally invasive microsurgical tools and techniques. Nonetheless, back surgery is a severe operation, and surgical candidates need to be aware of all facets of the procedure they’re considering – not only the benefits of the surgery but also the potential risks. One of the risks of spinal surgery is that of developing blood clots.

Any injury to the body increases the risk of a blood clot, as the injury itself stimulates the clotting process. Surgery constitutes an injury or trauma, and the body responds accordingly. Spinal surgery – which the body interprets as an injury to the spinal cord – can lead to the formation of blood clots within the veins. If such a thrombus becomes dislodged, it can block a blood vessel as it narrows, causing a stroke or heart attack, possibly resulting in paralysis or death. Proper postoperative care, medications, and the patient’s active role in the recovery process can minimize the risks of blood clots.

Table of Contents

What is deep vein thrombosis (DVT)?

Risks for thrombosis

Treatment and prevention of DVT

Why choose the TOPS™


What is deep vein thrombosis (DVT)?

That’s a postoperative disease associated with thrombus forming in the deep veins of the lower extremities. Often, it is induced by muscle atony or, simply put, lack of movement. 

DVT symptoms include:

  • swelling of the feet;
  • sudden shortness of breath;
  • acute chest pain;
  • coughing up blood;
  • increased pulse rate;
  • fainting;
  • dizziness.

To understand why you get blood clots after surgery, it’s worth analyzing the typology of thrombus. So, the hemostasis of the human body is maintained by forming blood clots (e.g., during wound healing). But sometimes, such a phenomenon has a negative impact on the body’s functioning. The thrombus is formed as a result of activation of the blood coagulation system in response to a vascular injury. The occurrence of thrombosis is also associated with a violation of the venous wall. That’s life-threatening because pulmonary embolisms from deep vein thrombosis (DVT) may happen later. A blood clot breaks off and goes through the bloodstream to the lungs, settling in the pulmonary arteries.

It may also cause some ischemic strokes or blood clots near the spine while blocking the artery that supplies the spinal cord. Its signs usually appear suddenly and can feel like a tight bandage wrapped around a torso. That’s precisely the point where the blood supply is disrupted. The thickening or narrowing of the arteries that carry blood to the spinal cord often triggers cerebrospinal strokes. 

Risks for thrombosis

Treating conditions such as slipped discs, spinal stenosis, and spondylosis is much less likely to cause complications than a hip or knee replacement. The cumulative incidence of deep vein thrombosis or DVT, also known as blood clot after surgery, steadily increases during the first two weeks and depends on the professional hospital care and factors of the patient’s preoperative condition, for example:

  • general well-being;
  • age (for older patients, it is often difficult to rehabilitate since muscle tone is weakened);
  • previous surgical procedures;
  • comorbidity (diabetes and other chronic diseases);
  • smoking, alcohol, drug status (e.g., contraceptives);
  • osteoporosis (patients are at increased risk of complications if the bone mineral density is low);
  • excess weight (pressure on the spine will be increased – this will entail negative consequences and be crowned with severe pain syndrome, especially in the first weeks of recovery);
  • pregnancy (operating on pregnant women is rare; however, they are safe for the mother and fetus if modifications of anesthetic and surgical methods are applied); 
  • genetic bleeding disorders.

One of the misconceptions is regarding the existence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) as a risk factor. The reality is that postoperative complications don’t occur; for the most part, they may be comorbid.

The most important concern after an operation is to prevent any negative consequences. In this case, we’re talking about two serious diseases: deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. 

Treatment and prevention of DVT

Since the thrombus has a high density, thinning drugs, namely anticoagulants, will prevent blood clotting (e.g., warfarin/ coumadin, heparin).

Note! Use the article for informational purposes only. Follow the therapeutic instructions of your doctor.

Clot busters are injected intravenously and break down clots. Filters settled in large veins can sometimes be used during therapy. Their function is to prevent pulmonary embolism. Compression stockings may also prevent puffiness (one of the signs we’ve noted above). 

Prevention of the illness in the postoperative period consists of maintaining normal body weight and good physical shape. Thus, you need to play sports, walk and avoid prolonged inactivity constantly. So, for example, it’s essential to take short walks. Discuss with your doctor how vulnerable you’re at risk of blood clotting, tell your medical history. If you suffer from comorbid diseases, such as diabetes or heart failure, ensure to report it. During the preoperative period, your goal should be to achieve a stable state of health. 

Blood clots in the back can be triggered by an invasive operation, trauma, disease. In 40% of cases, people who have suffered a cerebrospinal stroke can walk independently, 30% move with a cane, 20% are confined to a wheelchair. The scary data only makes you want to stay out of that 20% and 30%, right? Therefore, the preparatory period is significant: systematic; targeted treatment will help eliminate possible negative consequences. Anticoagulants, drugs that lower blood pressure, occupational therapy to preserve muscle function – these are all standard manipulations for preventing and treating cerebrospinal stroke. By the way, don’t forget to stick to a healthy diet – foods rich in fiber will help avoid the risks of intestinal inflammation. So take care of yourself now, not when you reap the rewards of a poor lifestyle.

Why choose the TOPS™

Anyone considering back surgery should also be aware that some procedures for treating a spinal problem may present lower risks or provide better outcomes than others. For example, the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Solution) procedure, which may be performed after spinal decompression surgery to stabilize the spine, provides better clinical outcomes than spinal fusion surgery, which was the traditional choice for spine stabilization before the introduction of the TOPS system. 

The TOPS provides for minimally invasive spine surgery and thereby significantly reduces the risks associated with DVT. Previously, when knowledge in spine treatment wasn’t as developed as today, the fusion procedure was the only available and most innovative option. The vertebrae were “glued” into a relatively rigid structure, which significantly limited movement. Even though flexion and extension weren’t possible, and the risks were very impressive, the fusion continues to be performed today. However, TOPS™ surgery has become a more acceptable alternative to treating degenerative spondylolisthesis of lumbar spinal stenosis for many younger physicians. Its advantage is movement in all axial directions, as well as stability.

The structure is implanted using a traditional posterior surgical approach, but the TOPS system exerts less force on the screws than other configurations. 


After the operation, the blood clotting mechanism in the body is very active because it’s aimed at stopping bleeding. Damage to the blood vessels around the surgical site is often the cause of DVT. Thrombus can form in the veins of the lower extremities but travel to the pulmonary veins with the blood flow, generating pulmonary embolisms, which are life-threatening. This process can last for weeks, and some symptoms can be identical to other diseases. The same shortness of breath or coughing are often warning symptoms, and if the convalescent neglects visits to the hospital or rehabilitation center, then often valuable time can be wasted. 

The TOPS solution has the added benefit of preserving the spine’s full range of motion and also has significantly lower risks of thrombosis, unlike spinal fusion, which permanently fuses adjacent vertebrae. If you’re a candidate for back surgery, make sure you understand not only the upsides and downsides but also all the alternative surgical solutions that can help you minimize the already low risks associated with advanced spinal procedures.

How soon can you return to athletics after spinal surgery?

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Near the top of the list of questions from almost every spinal surgery, the patients indicate how long they will have to wait for the following surgery before resuming their everyday activities. When it includes athletics – golf and tennis, bowling and the like, pastimes that put tremendous strain on the back – the answer becomes more complex. The factors influencing the time before patients can get back in the game include their physical condition and health. Just because one engages in strenuous physical activity doesn’t mean they are in good physical condition or health. Recovery times are faster for surgery patients in good physical shape because their bodies heal more quickly. Of course, the operation itself will play a significant role in deciding when you’ll be back on the tennis courts, golf course, taking a job, or engaging in a simple walk. The postoperative physical therapy program also plays a significant role. But the type of back surgery is the primary factor affecting the time required to get back into sports activities.

How to recover from surgery if you are an athlete or cannot live without daily activity – read further in this article.

Table of contents

  1. What does it mean to be in recovery?
  2. Exercises after surgery
  3. Conclusion

What does it mean to be in recovery?

While many people consider back surgery as the end of a promising sports career, Olympic, amateur, or professional athletes have returned to their competition after many common types of operations. General physical condition, professionalism during surgery, and spine rehabilitation affect how quickly you return to the game. Here are some tips for athletes planning to return to sport after a minimally invasive intervention. 

Follow your doctor’s recommendations

In most cases, surgeons consult about postoperative care. They depend not only on the patient’s health and medical history but also on the desire to return to sports. We previously discussed lower back surgery recovery: diet, exercise, physical therapy, massages, proper wound care, and medication support are vital aspects of recovery. Of course, you shouldn’t neglect motivation and grit to achieve success. And if your competition is right around the corner, and you’re still in the hospital ward, this is not a reason to be upset. Your orthopedic surgeon will take this into account when planning your postoperative period. Of course, everyone wants to leave and start an everyday life immediately. Still, following the recommendations, you’ll be able to return to sports faster than causing implicit harm to your body during self-rehabilitation. Returning too early cancels not only the healing but the operation’s effectiveness. 

So, a doctor’s advice may include:

  • doing certain exercises
  • wearing compression bandages, insoles, and stockings to avoid the risk of complications
  • A diet that includes vitamin and mineral complexes
  • A set of particular activities after back surgery.

Define your limits

You’d also talk to your coach about your career prospects or options (if you’re an amateur athlete) when getting approval from your PCP to return to athletics. It’s essential to be careful and aware of the limitations.

The postoperative stage depends on the patient, understanding the symptoms of complications, and a quick reaction if something goes wrong. E.g., accurately characterizing the level of pain and discomfort, reporting aches, numbness of the limbs, dizziness, suppuration in the wound area doesn’t mean a step back in the rehabilitation progress, but on the contrary, the ability to accelerate after a slight slowdown. Try to protect the spine, especially in the early stages of recovery. Respect your body and its healing times. 

Don’t forget about the course of drugs

Infections at the site of the surgical incision most often occur 2–4 weeks after the intervention. Most often, the following symptoms appear:

  • redness and suppuration at the incision site;
  • back pain that gets worse;
  • fever and fever;
  • change in consistency, odor, and color of drainage.

It’s essential to treat any of these and some other signs as they arise. If ignored, unavoidable consequences may occur. 

For patients with deep infection, a course of intravenous antibiotics is often given for about two months. Chronic contamination leads to the removal of the implant. 

Keep the wound clean: it must be washed with water and soap at least once a day. Remember to keep the wound dry for healing and crusting. It’s undesirable to utilize ointments, lotions, body creams on the operated areas. After two weeks, when the staples or stitches are removed, you may return to bathing or swimming. 

For opioid pain relievers, discontinuation usually occurs within the first few weeks, at most a month. There are other pain management options, such as using acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. But, as in the first case, they have their pros and cons and depend on the medical history. By combining medicines with physical therapy, you can achieve impressive results. 

It’s no secret that athletes’ dedication to the postoperative rehabilitation program greatly influences their subsequent success. Depending on overall progress in physical therapy, you may get consent to exercise, but return to activity must be gradual and gentle to avoid unnecessary risks.

Exercises after surgery

Patients, who have undergone minimally invasive TOPS™ procedures, can usually regain a full and painless range of motion. They have the greatest likelihood of returning to sport at pre-injury levels. Conversely, most exercises after spinal fusion aren’t available to athletes, and the possibility of injury increases – they’re less likely to return to athletics. Any collisions and falls will negatively affect health.

In any case, physiotherapy is a panacea for healing – movement combined with other aspects of rehabilitation can give you a chance for a better life. Let’s consider the leading practices that are useful for patients in the postoperative period.


It’s worth moving daily to improve blood circulation and speed up the healing of muscles and spine tissues. E.g., an essential therapy is walking, which can support the normal functioning of the heart and lungs. An upright position of the body is the best activity for the spine after surgery – this way, you can protect the discs from unnecessary stress. So, start with simple walks, and then work with your coach to develop your exercise program.

Bench press

That’s one of the simplest and effective therapies utilized in various types of operations. For instance, laminectomy recovery exercises are invaluable as they help protect discs and strengthen your back muscles.

This exercise is valuable because the discs hold the lower back during flexion and extension of the lumbar spine. So, to perform the training, you need to do the following steps:

  1. Lie face down with your arms parallel to your body.
  2. The back and hips should be relaxed. Gently lift your upper body while leaning on your stomach. Feel light pressure in your lumbar region.
  3. Hold this position for about two seconds and slowly lower yourself to the floor. Do ten hikes.

Straight leg raise (SLR) 

To strengthen the muscles of the lower back, it’s worth doing the SLR exercise. To do this, while lying on your stomach, slowly and alternately lift each leg up. In doing so, try to tighten your abdominal muscles. Do an exercise with a delay of two seconds at the highest point of the limb position. As before, do ten reps per set. Such a physiotherapy approach is appropriate for laminectomy, fusion, microdiscectomy, decompression, and of course, implantation.

In some cases, the surgical treatment chosen for a given spinal condition will affect not only the time needed to get back on the playing field but the degree to which you will ever be able to recover your old form. Take the stabilization procedure following spinal decompression surgery, for example. Spinal decompression is performed to relieve pressure on nerves within or emanating from the spine caused by conditions including spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and other degenerative changes or as a result of spinal cord trauma. Spinal fusion back surgery has been the primary stabilization procedure. But the fused vertebrae lose their independent motion following stabilization. Often, patients are restricted from physical activity for up to 6 months while waiting for the biological fusion process to complete. Today, the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Solution) System provides an alternative to spinal fusion. The TOPS™ System, a surgical implant, stabilizes the spine while preserving each vertebra’s independent motion – and the good news is that there are no restrictions on your physical activity after surgery. That’s going to ensure better performance whenever it’s time to get back in the game.


As you improve your range of motion in your spine, it’s time to start doing more challenging activities that will help you get back to working condition. To do this, discuss a possible change in activity with a PCP and trainer and adjust the training schedule. After implantation, you don’t have to worry that you can’t perform some exercises. The TOPS™ System is an alternative to spinal fusion and allows you to perform any range of movements required for warm-up, training, and cool-down.

How Long Does it Take to Recover From Spinal Surgery?

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Any surgery is a serious stress for the body. Therefore, even if the surgeon who performed the operation is a true genius of medicine and everything went well, postoperative rehabilitation is necessary to restore the body’s strength and functions fully.

Spine Surgery Recovery

In recent years, there has been a tendency to increase the incidence of spine disease, which is primarily due to lack of adequate exercise, poor nutrition, and a sedentary lifestyle in the era of total computerization. That consequently leads to a decrease in the tone of the torso muscles that hold the spine.

Thus, in the developed countries of the world, osteochondrosis of the spine is 90% of the total number of dystrophic diseases of the spine.

Recovering from back surgery happens in entirely different ways, as there are four main types, each of which has a different effect on the body.


That’s the removal of the disc that separates the vertebrae and helps support part of your spinal column. The intervention can be performed with different surgical techniques under general or spinal anesthesia.

Such an operation is prescribed for injuries or degeneration of the spinal cushion, with osteochondrosis or hernia. Disease symptoms are as follows: localized pain and numbness or extremities tingling.

Recovery from the procedure is often quick, but the patient continues to feel pain. There may also be numbness or weakness in the nerve pathway that has been exposed to high pressure.


Foraminal Therapy is applied to patients who have been diagnosed with spinal canal stenosis, a gradual narrowing of the vertebrae openings on any part of the back (cervical, thoracic, lumbar). That’s a manipulation of the spinal nerve roots that requires repositioning the tissues and cutting the bone to relieve pressure on the nerve. The procedure involves access to each vertebral level, so the incision length depends on the desired operable area.

The practice of recovery from lower back surgery shows slow and steady progress: patients can be exposed to light physical activity and also drive a car after eight weeks. Complete healing occurs within 18 months.


That’s the removal of the plate, bone spurs, ligaments, as well as the back of the bones that make up the vertebrae to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves or spine. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and mechanical ventilation.

Laminectomy is usually performed for lingering back or neck pain and nerve damage symptoms such as limb weakness and numbness. Patients can often lose control of bowel movements and urination. Complications such as bleeding, infections, blood clots, and nerve root damage can occur with this type of intervention.

After the operation, a mandatory stay in the hospital for up to several days is required, and most likely, in the evening, you won’t be able to walk as with TOPS™ implantation. Of course, any mobility will be controlled with medication: you’ll have to overcome pain to do any exercise constantly. When caring for the sick, it’s necessary to follow clear rules for bathing, walking, and sleeping. It’ll take at least 3-4 months for your bones to heal well, and recovery will take place gradually over a year.

If your diagnosis is spine arthrodesis, but you’re young and healthy, then the possibility of work will still be excluded for a period of up to 6 weeks. On the other hand, older people will have to fight for every movement: it’ll take 4-6 months for them to recover.

Spinal fusion

It’s the fusion of two bones in the back. Today, the procedure is considered outdated and incomplete among doctors: its peak came at the turn of the 20th century and required great care and planning from the patient and the surgeon. Previously, it was prescribed to patients with osteochondrosis or other diseases that didn’t respond to conservative treatment.

The fusion aims to prevent pain by immobilizing a specific spine area and is very dangerous in everyday life. Specialized titanium screws, rods, and plates are designed to maintain the rigidity and stability of two or more vertebral segments, which will be a monolithic bone structure after surgery. Such an operation is often delayed up to 8 hours. Recovery time to spinal fusion is also very long and takes from 6 months to a year. Its duration depends on your preoperative state: if you’re in good physical shape and have a healthy lifestyle, it promises the best predictions.

TOPS™ system

The TOPS™ implant maintains the mobility of the vertebral segment while the upper and lower vertebrae don’t suffer from increased stress as in previous procedures. Such a design doesn’t immobilize a person but gives the whole range of movements. The operation is considered minimally invasive, and its average duration is about 60-120 minutes. There is also an early clinically significant reduction in pain compared to the patient’s baseline.

Complications during implantation are much less common than in previous procedures. E.g., only one patient had an asymptomatic screw halo in the postoperative period six months later. However, the process involved changing the screw position, which could probably be the reason for the above conclusion. Also, after 36 months, one patient showed progressive degenerative changes.

Many specialists have inclined to therapy with no fusion spinal surgery in recent years but based on safety and positive results of clinical trials.

Recovery from lower back surgery will depend on your preparedness in the preoperative period: the level of activity and physical fitness will affect the rapid progress. You will be able to walk and move on the next day after the intervention – the maximum stay in the hospital for patients in four days. Achievement of the expected level of mobility is reached already at 4-6 weeks and depends on the correct rehabilitation approaches and a course of physiotherapy. Using nutrients to improve recovery and healing is another aspect of quick recovery.

How does nutrition help you recover?

Research shows that using spinal surgery recovery vitamins and other supplements helps the body rehabilitate better. Immune nutrition minimizes the risk of complications such as infection. Oral supplements are commonly used in tablets, or the liquid is given intravenously. Arginine, glutamine, omega-3 fatty acids, nucleotides, and antioxidants are the primary nutrients for healing after injuries such as osteochondrosis, herniated discs, and surgery. Let’s take a look at each substance.


It’s an amino acid that the human body produces in small quantities. The supplement is so valuable that it increases the ability to fight infections.

Foods containing arginine are nuts, seeds, legumes, poultry (especially turkey).


The amino acid can be synthesized in sufficient quantities. It participates in biological processes that control cell growth and also reduces the risk of infections.

You can get glutamine naturally by eating beef, eggs, rice, corn, and soy cheese.


Reduces the body’s inflammatory response, which is a source of persistent back pain. Salmon, eggs, nuts, flax, spinach, and other leafy vegetables contain omega-3.


DNA and RNA are made up of nucleotides, which are their formative and supportive components. The human body synthesizes and processes nucleotides, but they can additionally come from food. Sources of nucleotides are foods of plant and animal origin.


Antioxidants are vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, selenium. They reduce oxidative stress associated with chronic inflammation.

Examples of naturally occurring antioxidants include leafy greens, nuts, fruits, seeds, and whole grains.

To understand how long the recovery from back fusion surgery is, consider its risks. There can be a difficult struggle with the arising complications, where the correct diet and universal rehabilitation methods aren’t always appropriate. On the other hand, with the TOPS™ implant, healing will be much faster as the risks of infections and bleeding are minimized.

What difficulties do patients face after surgery? 

First of all, it is a pain and fear that will increase with movement. Therefore, the patients often limit themselves, thus delaying recovery.

It may seem that rehabilitation of the spine is not necessary, as if you can go home after surgery and get treated there. But this is really a very risky intention, and if you do so, you may stay bedridden forever.

Spinal surgery can provide dramatic relief for people with moderate to severe spinal problems that do not respond to conventional conservative therapy. For example, spinal decompression can remove pressure on nerves, relieve pain and restore mobility in many such patients.

Spine surgery recovery time varies depending on the procedure. The main purpose of rehabilitation is to restore the full range of motion, as well as the formation of a capable muscular corset.

Here are the methods used: the simplest exercises, supervision, and support of a doctor, physiotherapy procedures, classes on the simulators and in the pool, therapeutic baths, massage, reflexology, psychological support.

First, the physiological therapist examines the postoperative card, the features of surgery. Then, in collaboration with other specialists, create a method of treatment. The method of treatment includes two sides, physical and psychological. These two methods perfectly complement each other and give a great result together. 

The recovery time

If you’re a candidate for spinal surgery, it’s important to understand all aspects of the procedure and its aftermath. One of the most important questions these patients should have answers to is the length of time required to recover from spinal surgery.

Recovery time from back surgery depends on the form of surgery. There are two forms of back surgery: procedures where vertebrae are fused together versus procedures that do not immobilize the spine. Recovery from fusion surgery can take longer than the recovery time from back surgeries that only involve a decompression or a surgery that preserves motion. Your physician can tell you more about the recovery time required for a particular procedure. But it’s important for patients to consider outcomes as well as recovery time.

Effects achieved after physical rehabilitation:

  •     improving blood circulation;
  •     elimination of edema and pain;
  •     healing of sutures and soft tissues;
  •     increase muscle strength;
  •     improving bone growth;
  •     restoration of physiological movements of the spine;
  •     activation of global muscles;
  •     synchronization of work of all parts of a body;
  •     prevention of secondary diseases. 

For example, spinal decompression surgery has traditionally been performed in conjunction with spinal fusion back surgery. As part of the recovery process, restrictions on motions and activities are placed on the patient to allow the previously independent vertebral bodies to biologically fuse together and become one long rigid segment devoid of motion. In contrast, with the TOPS™ System, an alternative to spinal fusion following a spinal decompression procedure, there are no restrictions placed on the patient. You maintain a full range of independent vertebral motion after surgery, and the patient dictates the speed of recovery from this back surgery. You can increase your activity level as quickly as you want.

When should you start spine surgery recovery?

The answer is simple — the sooner, the better. Rehabilitation treatment should begin immediately after surgery and continue until an acceptable result is achieved. The rehabilitation process is no less important than the success of the operation itself.

Timely physical and psychological rehabilitation helps to pass the adaptation period quickly and without consequences. The doctor, before the intervention, must explain its features, course, possible complications. After the operation, he must clearly indicate what restrictions the patient has and when they are removed. In the initial stage, you should use painkillers to reduce discomfort. But by the end of the first week, they should be canceled.

The importance of rehabilitation measures should not be underestimated. Rehabilitation mustn’t cause pain, as muscle spasms can cause a painful reaction. The clinical effect will give a gradual muscle relaxation and increased range of motion in the joints.

The patient should be guided in the stages of rehabilitation, know the rules of conduct and the necessary exercises in the postoperative period. It is the doctor who determines how much recovery time is required in each case.

Back surgery treatment doesn’t end when the surgeon completes the operative work. The recovery period is of critical importance in restoring spinal health. Whatever the recovery period requires, make sure you carefully follow your physician’s instructions. And be aware of all your options for spinal surgery, so you’ll have not only the possible shortest recovery time but also the best possible outcome to your back surgery.

The rules of spinal surgery emphasize the consumption of more vegetables and fruits, preference for white meat and fish, the addition of jelly to the diet. After all, these dishes help to restore cartilage.

The rehabilitation program is made individually. It depends on the type of operation, patient’s age and general condition, the recovery period. The activities are planned and carried out under the close supervision of a surgeon, a neurologist, and a physical therapist.

People with low back pain develop a fear of movement, which once again confirms the close connection between biological and psychosocial factors. Often patients avoid the movements that caused the pain, even after recovery. This not only negatively affects the mobility of the spine but can also provoke depression, which increases the risk of recurrence.

How long you will recover after surgery depends on many factors. First of all, it is a method of surgery. Minimally invasive recovery techniques are now increasingly used. After that, the patient returns home for 3-4 days. With traditional interventions, the hospital stay can be extended by 1-1.5 weeks.

Previously, patients were allowed to get out of bed only a day after surgery. Other methods are now being practiced. In a few hours, it is recommended to get to your feet. You may need the help of a nurse. You can walk on the first day for no more than 5-10 minutes, then the load increases.

If the surgery was complex, only passive rehabilitation (massage, passive gymnastics) is used in the first month. The effect begins on the muscles of the thighs, buttocks, pelvis, shoulder girdle, and chest. The operated site is not involved in this period.

Gradually active ones are connected to passive techniques. With a physical therapist, you will learn how to perform exercises for flexibility, strengthening the back muscles properly. You can use gymnastic sticks and rubber bands, expanders, dumbbells, fitness and medicine balls during classes. At a remote stage, join the exercises on a special simulator, a balancer.

One of the causes of lumbar spine surgery is overweight and poor nutrition. Therefore, we recommend that all clients who come for rehabilitation and have signs of obesity consult a nutritionist. The doctor will choose the type of diet that will help normalize body weight and speed recovery.

Spine and lumbar spine surgery is a procedure with a rather lengthy recovery.

Recovering from back surgery requires patience, so during the early stages of recovery from spinal fusion surgery, some basic activity restrictions must be followed:

  • lay face up on the bed;
  • no bending;
  • no lifting;
  • no twisting;
  • no driving.

Young people are generally more capable of a faster recovery from back surgery than their older counterparts.


The purpose of treatment and rehabilitation measures is to remove swelling in the operated area and eliminate pain. Doctors prescribe patients a course of medication and procedures designed to prevent complications after surgery.

Walking is important after spinal surgery, but you must remember to start slowly and follow your doctor’s orders on how much to walk

Do not do strenuous activities, like jogging or golfing; do not do household duties that put a strain on the back, like gardening and vacuuming.

It should not be assumed that six months after the intervention, you can forget about rehabilitation. The degenerative changes in the spine that provoked the hernia do not go away. It is possible to slow down their development and prevent the recurrence of the problem only with the help of exercise, massage, and lifestyle changes. Therefore, most doctors recommend not to stop special classes for the rest of your life.

Take your time, be patient, allow your attendants to help you, and know that each day, with each step, you’re on your way to recovery.

Does Medication Reduce Back Pain?

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Does Medication Reduce Back Pain

Most back pain improves with a few weeks of self-care, including over-the-counter pain relievers, ice, heat and taking care not to lift heavy items or work out too vigorously.  It also helps to get some mild exercise and movement into your day, rather than lying down and staying still for too long – which can make back pain worse. But if these self-care methods don’t relieve your back pain after a few weeks, you should consult with a back pain specialist to improve your symptoms with medications.

The most common first steps in pain-reducing medications is your doctor’s recommendations of acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or naproxen (Aleve). Both of these types of medications are effective at relieving back pain, often within a very short period of time after taking them. Always take these medications as directed by your doctor, because overuse can cause serious side effects.

If over-the-counter medications don’t relieve your back pain issues, including secondary pain such as sore hips from compensating for your stiff or painful back, your doctor may also prescribe a muscle relaxant. While muscle relaxants will often lessen back pain, they can cause side effects like sleepiness and dizziness, so you should take them only when you’re done driving for the day, and when you can relax and let the medication ease your pain. Do not take muscle relaxants when you’re at work or if you have to make important decisions, cook, or conduct any other tasks that require focus. Save them for when you’re truly free of all items on your to-do list, and be sure someone is available to care for your kids and pets. Some people are more sensitive than others to the effects of muscle relaxants, and you may be among those who cannot function safely while on a particular type of back pain medication.

Your doctor may also prescribe to you narcotics, such as codeine or hydrocodone, which should be used only for a short period of time and with close supervision by your doctor. Take these medications only as prescribed.

Interestingly, some back pain patients experience relief for chronic back pain from low doses of certain types of antidepressants — particularly tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline.  You may not feel depressed, or show other signs of depression, but this is among the arsenal of pain-relieving medications that your doctor may consider for you.

Lastly, cortisone injections for back pain are also an option. These anti-inflammatory injections are delivered to the space around your spinal cord (like an epidural is administered during childbirth.) Your doctor might inject cortisone into the facet joints of your vertebrae, decreasing inflammation in those areas that may be the cause of back pain and allowing your spine to regain fuller range of motion and stability. A cortisone injection helps decrease inflammation around the nerve roots, and you might experience back pain relief for up to a few months after your injection.

Ask your doctor about which medications may be ideal to relieve your back pain, and ask for information on possible side effects, as well as – importantly – how long you should take each type of medication suggested or prescribed to relieve your back pain.

Common Questions About Back Pain: What are the Different Types of Back Surgery

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Back Surgery Can Potentially Cure Your Pain

There are several different types of back surgery proving successful at resolving patients’ back pain issues, each involving the highest level of surgical technology available today, as well as the skill of a board-certified spinal surgeon. If your spinal specialist advises back surgery, you’ll embark upon a learning process about the different available back surgery procedures – guided by your physician. You always want to get your information directly from your spinal surgeon, since back surgery information online can be outdated or incorrect, and Googling back surgery topics can sometimes cause unnecessary anxiety.   The best course of action for researching back surgery procedures is to prepare a list of questions for your surgeon, and request all of the back surgery literature possible that your doctor can provide you with so that you can fully understand what will be done during your surgical procedure.

Overall, back surgery can accomplish several different pain-relieving goals, including removing portions of the bone to widen the narrowed area in your vertebrae, which can cause back pain. Your spinal surgeon may remove the gel-like middle section of a ruptured disc to relieve pressure on pinched nerves in the back. And sometimes, the damage to a disc is so severe, your doctor has to remove the entire disc and then fuse together the remaining discs.

Below is a list of some of the different types of back surgery that may be the customized choice for your back damage or condition:

  • Discectomy. In this type of back surgery, your spinal surgeon will remove the herniated portion of a disc to relieve irritation and inflammation of a nerve.
  • Laminectomy. This back surgery procedure involves removing the bone overlying the spinal canal, which then enlarges the spinal canal to relieve nerve pressure caused by spinal stenosis.
  • Fusion. Spinal fusion permanently connects two or more bones in your spine. When the vertebrae are fused, you get added stability to your spinal movements, or relief of pain from a spinal fracture. Occasionally, spinal surgeons will opt for spinal fusion to eliminate painful motion between vertebrae that can result from a degenerated disc or injured disc.
  • Vertebroplasty. During this type of back surgery, your surgeon will inject bone cement into compressed vertebrae to stabilize fractures or compressed vertebrae, which can relieve pain. A balloon-like method may be used to expand the vertebrae area, allowing your surgeon to inject the bone cement into the treatment area for optimal results.
  • Artificial discs. Your spinal surgeon may find that your discs are in an advanced stage of degeneration, and that implanted artificial discs are necessary for the creation of a spine that functions better and without compression to the nerves. Artificial disc technology is advancing every day through rigorous studies and testing, and your surgeon can introduce you to the materials and information about having new discs implanted for your spinal pain relief.
  • TOPS (Total Posterior Spine) System.  A mechanical implant device that stabilizes the spine without eliminating the independent motion of the individual vertebrae, as spinal fusion does.

Since back surgery is a complex procedure, work with your spinal surgeon to explore all your options.  Every situation is different and you need to feel secure that you have fully researched which type of back surgery would be best for you, and if back surgery is necessary at all. And of course, your doctor will guide you through all the information you need regarding recovering from back surgery and what you can expect for your post-surgery lifestyle.

reference: www.mayoclinic.com

Common Questions About Back Pain: Do You Need Back Surgery?

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Is Your Back Pain Something More Serious?

If you’re experiencing ongoing or severe back pain, you’re likely wondering if you’ll need back surgery to finally rid yourself of that constant back ache or debilitating back pain. The answer will come once your spinal surgeon assesses your back pain or back injury symptoms, and takes a full medical history, to review your general health level and medical issues.  But before you panic, keep in mind that back surgery is generally needed only in a small percentage of back paincases. Most back pain can be resolved by a range of non-surgical options that can keep you off the operating table and have you feeling better soon.  Some of these are as the application of ice or heat, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and massage.  Changing your diet with the goal of losing weight can also help take pressure off the nerves in your back and once the initial discomfort is lessened, exercise can also provide non-surgical relief.

However, when conservative treatments don’t help, back surgery may be your physician’s advice.  This is often the case when your doctor is seeking to get you relief from back pain that’s limiting your lifestyle, interrupting your sleep and preventing you from being active and at your best.

Here are the symptoms and conditions that might mean back surgery would be an optimal solution for you:

  • If you have a back injury or condition that causes compression to your spinal nerves, causing debilitating back pain or numbness along the back of your leg.
  • If you have a bulging disc or ruptured (herniated) discs, which means the the rubbery ‘cushions’ separating the bones in your spine aren’t at their best and are causing discs to move without the cushioning they need.
  • If you have fractured vertebrae or other damage to your spinal column from a back injury. A fractured disc will cause pain, and also leaves your spine unstable, often causing additional back pain.
  • If you have fractured vertebrae or other spine issues such as osteoporosis.
  • If your prescribed conservative remedies including medication and physical therapy for back pain aren’t bringing you relief, and you’re still suffering from back pain and other systems after a longer-than-usual amount of time.

You may also be diagnosed with a condition that causes back pain and additional progressive nerve compression:

  • Scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that can compress nerves in the back
  • Spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal typically caused by arthritis
  • Spondylolisthesis, the forward slippage of a segment of the spine
  • Degenerative disc disease, the development of pain in a disc as a result of its normal wear and tear over time
  • Radiculopathy, the irritation and inflammation of a nerve caused by a herniated disc
  • Kyphosis, a humpback deformity
  • And other degenerative disc conditions

Your spinal surgeon’s primary goal is to eliminate your back pain and to return your quality of life.  When a progressive condition is diagnosed through testing and examination, back surgery may certainly move to the forefront of your surgeon’s mind.  It is their job to consider your best and personalized options for ridding you of back pain before your current condition deteriorates further.


Sleep Tips for Back Pain Sufferers

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Sleep Tips for back pain

Sleep provides important healing and rejuvenation to your back. When you’re suffering from back pain, it can be difficult to get a solid and healthy good night’s sleep. Lying down can be painful, and sleep simply doesn’t come. One of the many unpleasant symptoms of inadequate rest is being even more sensitive to pain. So it’s essential to take the smart steps necessary to improve your ability to sleep.

It may seem to be an impossible goal, but there are ways to improve your sleep quality while dealing with back pain:

  • Get a new mattress. A soft, old mattress that sags and provides inadequate lumbar support may be the culprit causing your back pain. When you sleep with your back arched on a mattress with the slope downward right at your hip level, you’re creating a terrible arch in your spine that can compress nerves and even cause disc damage. Upgrading to a top-quality new, medium-firm mattress that has no sag or slope and can cradle your body in a more natural and healthy position. Yes, a quality mattress is often pricy, but it’s worth the investment to improve your back pain.  Add in a posture-correcting orthopedic-approved pillow for your neck and head.  It will properly position your spine for better sleep and potentially less pain.
  • Sleep in a back-supporting position. One preferred position is lying flat on your back, and placing one or two pillows beneath your knees so that your spine is in a neutral, non-arched position while you sleep. If you prefer to sleep on your side, place one pillow between your slightly-bent knees while you lie on your side, and place another pillow against your chest, with your arm draped over it. This second pillow position prevents you from twisting your upper body and keeps your spine in neutral alignment as you sleep. Don’t sleep on your stomach, since this position arches your back and aggravates the spine, nerves and muscles affected in your back pain condition. Some frequent stomach-sleepers place a tennis ball in their pajama front pocket to prevent them from rolling over onto their stomachs during the night.
  • Reduce stress. Stress is a cause of chronic back pain, so focus on eliminating the sources of your stresses through meditation or deep breathing methods, journaling, limiting exposure to stressful people, lightening your load of life obligations such as running committees and other stressful jobs, or even getting short-term psychotherapy to deal with larger stressful issues in your life.
  • Limit or eliminate caffeine. You might be more sensitive to caffeine than you realize, and even moderate use can affect your sleep quality.
  • Don’t eat before bedtime. Limiting your snacking can help prevent nighttime indigestion or acid reflux, and it can also help keep your weight at a healthy level, which is better for your back.
  • Talk to your doctor about nighttime pain medications that can help you sleep. Your physician will assess your best pain medication regimen, which might include muscle relaxants, over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin, Tylenol (acetaminophen), or Advil or Motrin IB (ibuprofen) which can be effective for short-term use and might be available in a ‘PM’ formula that can help you sleep.  Naproxen sodium (Aleve) is long-lasting and may offer pain relief throughout the night. Use these medications only as directed and with a doctor’s care.
  • Talk to your doctor about gentle exercises. Always consult with your doctor about recommended back pain-calming exercises. Never look online for ‘back pain exercises’ to do on your own, since your back might not be strong enough at this time for some exercises like planks or resistance band work. Your doctor will start you off slowly with a few exercises that can calm your back pain before bed, and then work with you to progress your back-improving movements over time.
  • Practice a good bedtime routine. Turn off the television and computer, dim the lights in your room to ready your body for sleep, cool your bedroom with a fan to help you sleep better, and avoid reading or working in bed before sleep. Winding down can prepare your mind, as well as your body, for a deep, restful sleep that lets your body heal better, and after a good eight hours of healthy sleep can make your pain levels easier to tolerate in the daytime.

When to See a Doctor for Types of Severe Back Pain

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Lower Back Pain

Back painslows down millions of Americans each year, with symptoms ranging from nuisance soreness to back pain so severe and debilitating that a visit to the emergency room becomes the first step on a path leading to a spinal surgeon’s care. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, back pain is the second most common reason that adults see a doctor.

Back pain can occur anywhere on the back, from the neck (cervical area) to the middle of your back (thoracic area) to the lower back (lumbar area) with the lower back often being the most common location of severe and lifestyle-limiting pain, since the lower back bears most of your weight. That weight can compress the cartilage cushion between your vertebrae. And, over time, you might experience a degeneration of that cushioning cartilage, causing your discs to compress or slide out of place.

Walking, bending, lifting, twisting, even sitting and standing can then become excruciating. Back pain flares up and then goes away on its own after a few days for some people. But for others, sharp pains and limited motion becomes a bigger, more longer-lasting problem requiring medical care.

Here are some of the more severe back pain conditions:

* Disc degeneration. Discs in the spine can deteriorate with age, and the deterioration of discs can lead to inflammation and irritation in the spine, which can cause great pain.

* Sciatica. While many people associate the term ‘sciatica’ with pain in the buttocks area, sciatica can be a painful condition in the back. Sciatica is caused when the sciatic nerve (a bundle of lumbar nerves) become irritated by a herniated disc. This condition is known as spinal stenosis. The sciatic nerve also can be irritated by an abnormality in a vertebra that puts pressure on it. Sciatic pain may be felt in the lower back or buttocks, and may also be felt in the calf and the foot. Sciatica pain can be mild with tingling, or it can become severe, growing worse at night. You might experience worse sciatica pain when you have long stretches of standing or sitting.

* Lumbar spinal stenosis. When spinal degeneration occurs the canal through which spinal nerves travel can narrow. As part of the aging process, discs can dry out and shrink. When these two conditions occur, you might experience painful pressure on a spinal nerve. This can happen with a minor injury, as a symptom of osteoarthritis of the spine, or simply as a symptom of aging. The resulting back pain can be severe.

* Osteoarthritis. Arthritis anywhere in the body can be painful, but when osteoarthritis occurs in the back, you may experience pain and muscle spasms. Osteoarthritis can affect the cartilage in the discs, the vertebrae or both anywhere along the spine, pinching the nerves and causing pain.

*Herniated disc. Also called a ‘slipped disc,’ this condition occurs when a damaged or bulging disc pinches or irritates a nerve root.

When severe back pain occurs, your physician will assess you for any or all of these conditions, and you will likely start on a back pain reduction plan that aims to reduce your discomfort, return your mobility, and manage your back pain flare-ups. Perhaps you and your doctor will decide that spinal surgery is the best solution to remedy the internal causes of your severe back pain, returning you to better quality of life.

The TOPS™ System is one such solution. The TOPS™ (Total Posterior Spine) System provides an alternative to spinal fusion for patients undergoing spinal decompression back surgery. Unlike spinal fusion, TOPS preserves the full range of the spine’s natural motion, and has been shown to provide better outcomes than fusion in clinical studies performed around the world.

How to Prepare for Spinal Stenosis Surgery, Part III

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Back Surgery

Spinal stenosis, an unnatural narrowing (or stenosis) of the spinal canal, is an all too common cause of back pain and restricted mobility, which results from pressure the narrowing column places on spinal nerves. For those who don’t respond to more conservative treatments, surgery may be recommended to correct spinal stenosis, and it’s important for such patients to prepare for the procedure properly. The preparations starts by ascertaining that back surgery is indeed called for.

Pain in your leg that is greater than the pain in your back caused by a pinched nerve (as measured by standard pain scales), is one indication that surgery is appropriate for a given case of spinal stenosis. Leg pain that does not decrease and interferes with your quality of life, and radiological scans confirming that the pain is likely due to nerve compression, are also indications that surgery may be beneficial.

Much of the advice on preparing for any back surgery applies to a spinal stenosis operation, as well. As in other back surgeries, you should stop smoking and, if overweight, shed excess pounds. Get your blood pressure down. Walk, or engage in other moderate activity that gets your muscles moving. This is important to speed your recovery process.

Check the medications you’re taking and discuss them with your physicians to ensure the medications will not interfere with your surgery or recovery. For example, blood thinners can interfere with blood clotting. Among women, birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can also interfere with surgery.

Traditionally, spinal fusion back surgery has been performed in conjunction with spinal stenosis surgery to stabilize the spine at the site of the operation. A drawback of spinal fusion is that the procedure eliminates the independent motion of the fused vertebrae, and is also physically demanding. Now there is an alternative to spinal fusion following spinal stenosis surgery. The TOPSTM (Total Posterior Solution) System can be used instead of spinal fusion, and has better outcomes. Investigating whether this alternative procedure makes sense for you could be one of the best ways to prepare for your surgery for spinal stenosis.

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