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First day of physical therapy!

noseovertailnnoseovertail Posts: 387
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Today was my first day of physical therapy since I had surgery. I was super nervous because me pre-operative physical therapy was a terrible experience. Let me just say.... I had such a good time! I mean yes, some of it was painful and uncomfortable but my therapist was so nice and knowledgeable and the place itself was so clean & new... afterward I am in such a good mood! He also told me I can take my gym membership off 'medical hold' and go use the stationary bicycle and walk in the water, yay!

My legs & arms feel like rubber bands but I feel great today. : )

Oh... one more thing. I learned I have spondylolisthesis! I never knew that, nor did I ever hear the term come out of my surgeon's mouth.


  • NOT....first day of PT! Did you have to take pain medds after? Dag...I'm super freakin' happy for you!!!!!!!!!! Lets have a party....somehow....NY to chi-town.

    so now we've both heard phrases from doctors we don't know about. I've been researching that levoscoliosis. NO IDEA. I can't really find anything of substance. I'll look up yours too. I'm bored and restricted to my room because my two sons are here and there are wet puddles of water all in the living room. It makes me crazy that no one thought to mop the floors. so I'll stay in my room where its nice and clean. LOL....

    I'm glad PT went well with you. That's exciting!
  • congratulations! PT can be brutal,but it does make you feel better-keep it up!
  • So happy for you. Do you go out walking?How much are you sitting daily? Just wondering cause our surgerys were pretty close together. When you do have pain, do you notice it getting worse with any particular activity?
  • That's terrific. I started my PT today also...it's a step in the right direction for both of us!! YEA!!

    I feel like a stickman...zero flexibility, and am so looking forward to being able to do the little things, like putting on my socks, or getting in and out of the car with ease.

    I was given a couple of little stretching exercises and one that concentrates on the core muscles. They were; of course, so simple, almost laughable to people with normal spines, I'm sure....but I am grateful. We are going to do a fair amount of work in the pool...I can't wait, since I have been plagued with severe muscle spasms.

    What kind of work are you doing with your PT? I have watched your progress since your surgery. Sounds like you have done phenomonal!! Good for you!!

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,877
    can really be rough on post surgical patients.
    The first PT session should always be a complete evaluation where they can assess your situation.

    To me, this has always been one of the most important parts of Physical Therapy.

    Then the next several sessions are lightweight, just trying to figure out whats working and what is not.

    Still, post surgical, even the lightest PT can hurt.
    Then, they may start to ramp things up a bit.
    Here is where I have always stated is a fine line.

    Its one thing to get a patient along the ways to start some exercising, but its another thing if this time frame is pushed too far by Physical Therapist.

    It is so very important to keep the same physical therapist for all of your sessions. That PT person will get to know your body better than your doctors do and probably better than you do.

    PT is great, but there is a limit. That threshold has to be determined by the patient. I always knew where mine stood. If I exceed that, I would be one hurting puppy
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • My goals for now are simple...I would like to wake up without a total body spasm; get out of bed without severe pain; get into my car with gashing my head on the car door; the ability to put on my underwear and socks. I spent 1.5 hours in a very detailed discussion of my history, surgery, and postop issues and limitations with my physical therapist. I will remain cautiously optomistic that this is a step in the right direction.

    Slow and steady, wins the race! :-)


  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    The reason for my initial fusion in 1987 was spondylolisthesis. It's actually quite common - but not everyone with it has the symptoms that lead to surgery. I have really weak (lax) ligaments and thus L3 has now gone "spondy" on me. But that's my wacky physical makeup.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Andrea - I am so glad you enjoyed PT. I can relate! Listen to your body and talk to your therapist about what helps and what hurts. I do take a pain med before PT because I've learned that I can wind up hurting afterwards, but in an good way (?). I think it's such a relief when we start to move a little. Flexibilty is a huge issue - I'm still working on being able to get shoes and socks on gracefully - and PT has certainly helped with that. Take it slow, listen to your body, and talk to your therapist about what helps/works and what doesn't.

    I'm a spondy - or was. I didn't know a thing about it until the ortho's x-rays showed it after the MRI didn't pick it up. I wound up with 2 level fusion because of the instability.
  • Wait a minute -- how did you find out since your surgeon never mentioned it. I assume it was corrected during your surgery, right?
  • I did take a Percocet earlier on in the morning and I took one about 2 hours after I got home from PT to prevent too much discomfort. I'm going to request to stay with the same therapist, I remember the receptionist saying something about them switching them up depending on the day/time of the appointment.

    I am so jealous of those of you who get to do physical therapy in a pool! I don't think there's anyplace around here that does that. I am very lucky in that I can get dressed, put on socks & shoes, walk, etc. without much issue.

    This first session was definitely an evaluation, and the exercises he showed me were very, very basic. One was just pulling my belly button (I suck at it), and another is strengthening my butt muscle because apparently on the right side it's very weak. He said this could be impacting why my right leg is having more pain (I think that's what he said... sometimes it goes in one ear and out the other). Last time I had physical therapy, they did not give me anywhere near as thorough of an evaluation as this guy did. He did press & rub on my incision because he said the scar tissue was very hard, and that hurt a little bit but was tolerable. It felt like burning or pinching or something.

    I was *NOT* prepared for him to lift up my pant legs to test my reflexes though... since I don't remember the last time I shaved my legs since I can't bend!! I was so embarrassed.

    I want to share a snippet of an email from my uncle who is an orthopedic surgeon to the stars in Beverly Hills.

    "It might be somewhat uncomfortable at first, but don't forget you are in charge. If whatever the therapist is doing feels at that time to be beyond what you can tolerate, let him or her know. They have to take it at your pace, but on the other hand, you need to feel free enough to push yourself a little.

    I always tell patients to expect some discomfort from the therapy, but if you cross the line from discomfort to true pain, you need to back off. You will be the only one who feels what you feel, so be vocal if you need to be."

    Maybe that will help someone, since it really helped me. I was definitely not vocal enough last time I had PT and it caused some serious pain.

    Oh and Thenade, I do not walk much. I can't go walking outside because it is very cold and icy here. I've had to go to the mall to walk around, which I've done only once so far. I walk around the house a bit, and I have a couple flights of stairs that I go up and down everyday. I sit up for short periods of time, I try to keep it at a max of about 30 minutes each time, though sometimes it goes beyond that. If I'm uncomfortable, I get up and walk around. Standing hurts my right leg so I can't stand for more than a few minutes at a time yet. The thing that causes me the most discomfort or pain is getting up from laying or sitting. I've stopped log rolling and now try to get up gently, but it still causes me to feel sore.

    Lisa, I feel like a stickman too! Especially my right leg, I can barely stretch without it hurting. He just had me doing some very, very light exercises. Laying on my back and bringing my knee to my chest, pulling my bellybutton in without inhaling or using my back, laying on my side with my ankles together and lifting my knee and then slowly bringing it back down. I think there's one or two more I have as homework.

    I'm going to research this spondy thing. I wonder if I had it but the surgery fixed it? Or if I still have it? This is new to me.

  • gwennie17 said:
    Wait a minute -- how did you find out since your surgeon never mentioned it. I assume it was corrected during your surgery, right?
    I have no clue if it was corrected, I'm pretty confused right now about it. My physical therapist pretty much started our session out by introducing himself, asking how I was and "so how do you think you got spondylolisthesis? Were you a gymnast?" and my mouth dropped. I had never been told I had it before. I think I'll send an email to my uncle and ask him more about it, and then maybe call my surgeon's office. I don't remember ever even seeing it on my surgery paperwork, which explained in great detail the procedures and everything. Heck, they even gave me a username and password to log onto some fancy website and view a cartoon version of what was going to happen in surgery.

    So right now I'm pretty much just stunned. I'm assuming it was written on the paper that had my prescription for physical therapy on it. I should have read it more in depth when I had it in my possession.
  • Oh also, another weird little update for my situation. My uncle pointed out that I had scoliosis when I sent him an Xray some time ago. No surgeon had ever told me that, so I kind of chose to ignore it. Well I decided to ask my uncle to explain further and he told me that (and I'm going to quote him here):

    "Your scoliosis, which is very minimal, more than likely developed sometime between the ages of 10 and 14. That's when it usually develops in girls much more often than boys. It is called idiopathic scoliosis, because as of now we have no clue about why it develops. On your x-ray it's what we call an incidental finding. It's not for you to worry about. It's there now; it will likely always be there, and very unlikely that it will ever be a source of problems for you."

    So that's sort of interesting. I sure hope it doesn't cause me any problems. I wonder when it started, and why.
  • You don't really need to ask your uncle. There is tons of info, videos, etc. right on this website...and there are many of us who had it. It is often the reason why a fusion is performed rather than just a discectomy or laminectomy.

    It simply put is a slippeage where one vertebrae slides over the top of the one beneath it. It is common among certain athletes that do lots of exercise with their back in extension (bending backward) --gymnasts, divers, some dancers, etc. It is more common in women than men. Many times people have it and do not realize until an X-ray is done for another purpose. In other words, it does not cause any pain. But for others, there is nerve compression caused by the nerve getting caught up in the movement. It often produces instability and there is a bit of movement between the two vertebrae.

    See here: http://www.spine-health.com/video/spondylolisthesis-symptoms-causes-and-treatment-options-video

    I had spondy at L4-5 and had to have a fusion as a result...no options.

    i'm sure your surgeon corrected it. Was your PT looking at surgical notes or X-rays??
  • I did gymnastics for a few years when I was younger, so I wonder if that started all of my back issues. My husband seems to think it did, but I wasn't so convinced before. Thanks for the info & link.

    I think my PT was just looking at that paper with my prescription on it, I don't know how he could have gotten surgical notes since my surgeon gave me 3 different PT companies to choose from. I really wonder what caused him to say that to me. I am totally going to ask him at my next apt.
  • with physical therapy. I've had, over the course of years, some pretty crappy physical therapist and some really good ones. I really like my current PT. We've become friends. We talk during our sessions -- he about his new girlfriend, his ex-wife, and dogs, and me about my work, my quilting, and my decrepit body. He is great at assessing my pain, giving me exercises to strengthen the areas that need the most work, and relieving the knots of pain I get from my stiffness. I went twice a week for quite a while, but now go once a week. I'll continue again in the new year -- after Mike gets back from a surgery of his own! I even like the staff at the office. It's a really nice, inviting place with a good group of people. That always helps.

    P.S. I forgot to say I had spondy and scoliosis too. I think my scoliosis was from the crumbling my spine did when I fell.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Linda, that's great that you have such a great therapist and such a great relationship with him. I hope mine leads to that. Though I only met him and the front desk woman, they were both super nice & personable. The front desk woman actually teaches yoga and told me that she loves working in a job where she can help people feel better. Her degree is actually in something completely different and this is her 2nd career path.. she said she couldn't handle not doing something she really loved. I thought that was nice and showed she is really dedicated to doing well at her job there.

    The therapist offered me a magazine while on the stationary bike. Little things like that just make these painful experiences that much better.

  • Ron makes some very good points.

    I got 1 PT. She does pool, land, massage, whatever with me. I do not change PTs unless she leaves the practice.

    First visit we talked about everything we could think of while she went over me. She moved, turned, stretched, tested every part she thought was safe to move. Very thorough. I also sent her some images from my xray so she could see the hardware. Sent her some links on AxiaLIF and she read up on it.

    I do 2 days in the pool and 2 days on land more or less.

    Starting this week I get really basic home exercises added on.

    This practice knows what my surgeon wants. He's been sending people to them for a long time.

    I found doing pool and land means you need to bring a gym bag. The pool is slippery so to get traction I have ordered some pool shoes. So now I'm prepared.

    Keep a positive attitude about PT. PT is helping with the next step after surgery. This is part of the rebuild process. Some days maybe rough, some not. Qué Sera Sera...
  • Andrea (I like that better that N.O.T.), you're fortunate to have an uncle who can explain these things to you. I'd ask him. I'm so glad to hear all these great reports about PT. When I did PT before surgery - in trying to avoids the surgery - I too had a great therapist. The office I go is a co-op. It has surgeons that specialize in different things...knees, spine, feet, shoulder, etc... It has pain management and physical therapy. No pool...alas, this is NYC and space is SUPER RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE. However, the staff is amazing. My former therapist is no longer there. he was an adorable california beach bum looking guy. but the head therapist will have my case and he is amazing. The only part of therapy I hated was the massaging part becauase it hurt like a mother! that was 18 months ago. I wonder if it'll hurt this time?

    For all of you....have a merry Christmas. enjoy family, food and life! I hope someone bakes me cookies!!!!! I miss my kitchen....I even miss mopping all these floors!!!!! 7 weeks and counting. ha ha.
  • Hi Andrea,

    Your physical therapist has to be given a presciption for PT by your surgeon. On that presciption usually is a diagnosis followed by a billing code. That is generally how they know how and what you need, and how to bill your insurance for the therapy.

    It is very important, in my opinion, to stay with the same therapist. We call it continuity of care..in the medical profession. It might be a little difficult to get the same therapist over the holidays due to their vacations, but after that I would definitely stick with one. If you switch around, how are they really to know how well you did on the previous session, or if you had specific problems with one exercise or another. You absolutely have a better chance at success with one person.

    I have one therapist for land therapy, and one who works in the pool all day, so she is an expert.

    Take care,

  • My RX for PT is just the usual size script paper with check boxes. My PA checked off all the ones that they wanted and threw in pool therapy for me to try. Glad she did.

    Talking with my PA she said they would fax over a drill down of what they want me doing. For the most part it is very basic "recovery" work. So far we are working on waking up muscles that went on vacation a long time ago. Vacation is over...
  • You must really feel that you are on the road to recovery now that you've started physical therapy.

    Welcome to the spondylolisthesis club! Hopefully, you are on the way to a pain free life. That will be why you have had trouble with your back at such a young age.

    I have had some pain with my back since I was a teenager, but nothing like over the last couple of years. I am still trying to avoid surgery, but wonder if I will need it one day. I was told by a spine doctor that she thought I would have to have a fusion one day, but the surgeon I saw said it wasn't inevitable. (I really hang on to that.)

    I was told that spondylolisthesis due to a fracture, is more common in men (especially sportsmen and rugby and football players in particular.) The degenerative spondlylolisthesis is apparently more common in women.

    I don't know what caused mine, but have been told that it was probably caused by a fracture from a bad fall I had from a tree (was knocked unconscious) when I was 7. I also did dancing until my mid teens, so that may have caused it.

    Hope that you continue to do well with the PT. Take it easy, and happy holiday.
  • Hi,

    I just recently had surgery on Dec. 4th. My doctor has not mentioned that I have physical therapy yet. I had physical therapy before my surgery to prevent it, but it didn't work. How soon should I be starting physical therapy. I'm thinking about going. I still have a slight pinch in my leg yet, and would like to see if I can get it worked out.
  • suzyb, that is something you should ask your doctor. I think you are way too early for physical therapy yet. You didn't mention what type of surgery you had, but I would strongly urge you not to do anything physical without consulting your surgeon first. You could hurt yourself inadvertently and then the surgery would have been for no reason.
  • Please only do PT with the blessing of your Dr. My Dr. gave me a Rx for 12 pool sessions. I went for a complete evaluation, and one pool session last week, and my surgery was on 11/23/09. The pool felt great, but still the exercises were super simple. I did have additional pain afterward...fyi..However, I did feel slightly more flexible over the last few days. I go back on Tues. and Wed. of this coming week. I have 3 simple home exercises that I can do while lying flat in bed.

    Steady as she goes...

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