Recommendations after a Spine Surgery

Patient

Q: I have been out of work for the better part of a year now, due to lower back herniations in L4-5 and L5-6. They were both on separate occasions and were severe enough to warrant discectotomies (sp?) on both discs. After the second surgery there were complications involving my back filling with fluid which caused my incision to actual burst at some point. I saw my surgeon about it, which he put me in the hospital immediately to drain it and kept me for 4 days on a antibiotic drip while they ran tests. To my, my surgeons, and infectious disease doctor the tests came back negative for almost all infections. They were stumped. All is good and well now and I am about 4 months out of surgery. There were problems after with inflammation. I couldn't stand up straight, there was a weak or so of intense spasms, and occasional complete numbness in my right leg. The numbness 4 months out still occurs. NOW, finally, I get to my question. I will be going back to work as a bartender at the end of the month. I still experience the numbness and slight weakness in my back. The numbness tends to only happen if standing stationary for extended periods of time. I was curious about what back braces you would recommend for something like this, as I will be on my feet for a good while throughout the day? I have good shoes, with good insoles and want to maximize my comfort. I know a lot of you will say the best solution is to find new work, but its not much of an option right now and I just need to know my best chances. Thanks for any help.

Doctor

A:   In the view that you have a good performance status post surgery, I recommend you to follow a customized exercise routine to stretch and strengthen the spinal and abdominal muscles, of course supervised by a physical therapist. The numbness will progressively disappear with the time and when the before compressed nerves involved get recovered. The most important, try avoiding all the activities that may produce pain or discomfort, such as weight lifting, keep your weight under control, keep a good posture at all times and sleeping with a pillow between the knees while lying on one side may increase comfort. Some doctors recommend lying on your back with a pillow under your knees. If you are going to start practicing a physical activity choose practice low-impact activities such as swimming, walking, and bicycling, they  can increase overall fitness without straining the low back. While standing, keep your head up and stomach pulled in. If you are required to stand for long periods of time, you should have a small stool on which to rest one foot at a time.

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