Suffering an injury can be frightening. Once we get over the initial shock and discomfort, we expect the body to heal and return to normal. However, it is possible for a spinal injury, or any injury, really, to have long-term consequences. Once the spine has been compromised through an injury, there may be an increased risk of recurrent pain or even of a new injury to the same area of the back or neck. Here, we discuss a few ways that these risks can be managed.
Take Action Quickly
Ignored back pain typically does not go away. If you continue doing the same things every day after suffering a back injury, even a minor one, the injured area is continually stressed. Failing to take action for back or neck pain can prolong healing or, worse, exacerbate the injury. When neck or back pain develops, it is important to rest first and then help the area recover with targeted, controlled exercise.
Engage in Rehabilitation
After a short period of rest during which pain may be managed with anti-inflammatory medication, it is necessary to rehabilitate the muscles that support the spine. If you see a doctor for a spinal injury, you will likely be prescribed a course of physical therapy. This may last several weeks. Exercises should be done both in and out of the formal physical therapy appointments. this not only helps you recover from the initial injury but can also improve the strength of your back to reduce the risk of future injury and pain. In short, it is necessary to be all-in on physical therapy to obtain the best results.
Ease Back into Activity
Doctors generally advise people who have suffered a back or neck injury to complement a period of rest with gentle physical activity. It is not wise to jump back into normal exercise and physical activities right away. Patients are instructed to take it slow. This enables the muscles and tissues around the spine to gradually build up a tolerance for physical stress.
See A Specialist
If back or neck pain persists beyond a week or two, it is beneficial to see a specialist. What prohibits people from doing this is the idea that they will be told they need back surgery. This is rarely the case. Seeing a specialist is the first step through the healing journey, and an important one because it can identify the source of pain, such as a herniated disc or a strained muscle. Undiagnosed back pain opens the possibility for greater problems in the future.
If you would like to put a spinal injury behind you, contact us. Our Princeton neurological surgery office can be reached at (609) 890-3400. We are proud to also serve the areas of Bridgewater, Morristown, Union, and Paramus.