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Nonoperative Spine Rehabilitation

Sep 15, 2015

If you’re dealing with pain as a result of a spinal injury or disorder, you may be able to find relief from nonoperative rehabilitation. Depending on the specific injury, there are many different treatments and rehabilitation plans that will reduce your pain and increase your range of motion.

The spine is a critical part of the body’s structure that allows it to perform all of your daily activities. The spinal cord carries signals from your brain to other parts of the body to tell them what to do. Minor spine problems can cause persistent back pain, but major spinal cord injuries can have much more serious consequences.

If you’re experiencing any kind of back pain, it’s imperative that you see a doctor immediately. Spinal cord injuries are considered medical emergencies, so if the pain you’re experiencing is related to your spinal cord, you’ll need to have immediate care.

Whether you’re dealing with chronic spine pain or the aftermath of an injury, there are many different nonoperative methods you can use to treat your pain.


When you’re suffering from back pain, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible for a diagnosis. During the appointment, the doctor will evaluate your medical history, discuss your symptoms, and perform a physical examination to determine exactly what type of injury or disorder you’re dealing with.

Your physician will then create a well-structured conditioning program tailored to your specific injury and individual lifestyle. This program will involve a wide range of exercises to be performed under your doctor’s supervision. As long as you follow the doctor’s instructions, these exercises should help you meet your rehabilitation goals.

Rehabilitation Plan

The following rehabilitation plan includes exercises to strengthen the muscles that support the spine, relieve back pain, and reduce the risk of further injury. These exercises will also increase your flexibility and help restore your range of motion.

Exercises for stretching the back include:

Kneeling Back Extension – Begin on your hands and knees with the shoulders in line over your hands. Rock forward onto your arms, round your shoulders, and hold for five seconds. Then rock backward into a seated position, extend your arms, and lower your head to the floor.

Sitting Rotation Stretch – Sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you. Cross one leg over the other outstretched leg so that the knee points up. Place the elbow of the opposite arm on the outer thigh of the leg pointing up, and support yourself with the other arm behind you. Rotate your head and upper torso toward the supporting arm until you feel the stretch.

Modified Seat Side Straddle – Sit on the floor with one leg fully extended and the other bent in. Keep your back straight, lean forward, and reach your hands toward the toes on your outstretched leg. Hold for five seconds.

Plank – Begin with your body in a straight line facing the floor. Lift and hold yourself up by your forearms with your legs extended and your toes on the floor. Keep your abdominals held in tight to support the lower back, and hold your body in a straight line from the shoulders down to the toes. Be sure that the hips don’t sag. Hold for 30 seconds.

It’s important to remember that none of these exercises should hurt. If you experience pain during rehabilitation, immediately stop that exercise and tell your doctor.

Maintenance Program

Most spine rehabilitation programs last somewhere between four and six weeks. After the program is complete, it’s beneficial to continue these exercises for lifelong spine health. Incorporating these stretches into your normal exercise routine two or three days a week will maintain the strength and flexibility of your back.

For more information about how to treating injuries through non-operative methods, click here to download our eBook, The Patient’s Guide to Non-Operative Care and Rehabilitation.



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