Back pain is the most common cause of absenteeism worldwide. It is also the leading cause of disability.
The back needs to be viewed as one structure stretching from the skull to the coccyx. It consist of a chain of small joints. It is important to note that in between each vertebrae there is an intervertebral disc that has a soft centre. Due to the soft centre the disc has pressure that changes with position as well as activities. Certain activities ( picking up heavy objects without bending your knees) as well as certain positions (sitting without having your back supported ) can increase the pressure to such a level that the disc can be damaged). It is important to note that a prolapsed disc causes leg pain and not back pain.
The most common causes of back pain are due to ligament injury, muscle spasm or joint arthritis or inflammation. All of the above can be treated but should be followed up on with a program of lifestyle changes and core strengthening.
If you have a prolapsed disc and it puts pressure on the nerve , you will experience severe leg pain. In most cases that can be successfully treated with a simple laminectomy and discectomy.
During the operation only the part of the disc that has protruded is removed in order to retain the rest of the disc. After the operation the patient is hospitalized for about 3-4 days during which your Physiotherapist will start you with basic core stability exercises and stretches. Sitting will at first be prohibited and after 4 days will still be very limited. During your 6 weeks recovery you will follow a walking program as well as an exercise program. After 6 weeks you will join a rehabilitation program that will help strengthen you core muscles and teach you how to maintain good spinal health during your normal activities.
It is important to note that patients that have had a back operation lead full and active lives. It is not a disabling procedure unless you had nerve damage before the operation.