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How to Manage Leg Pain after Lumbar Decompression Surgery

Leg Pain

The decision to undergo back surgery is a difficult and serious one. Up to 40% of patients do not find the relief they’re looking for, either because the back or leg pain persists, or a new pain emerges. Finding an appropriate leg pain treatment after lumbar surgery can feel daunting, but relief is possible.

What Is Causing Your Pain?

The first step in finding an appropriate treatment for your leg pain is determining the cause of the pain. Reasons for pain after surgery include

  • An unidentified secondary diagnosis
  • Inadequate decompression
  • Inflammation
  • Nerve damage due to surgery
  • Scar tissue

The most common causes of continuing or new leg pain after lumbar decompression surgery are an unidentified secondary diagnosis and inadequate decompression. Inflammation after surgery is another common pain culprit. Nerve damage and scar tissue pain are rare.

Inadequate decompression means that part of the nerve root is still pinched or constricted. This can cause shooting or radiating pain down the lower back pain and legs. When incomplete decompression occurs, it is typically apparent almost immediately. There will be no pain relief following surgery. Imaging will show continued compression in the spine.

When a secondary diagnosis is to blame for continuing leg or back pain, it may be identified immediately. It may also take weeks for your doctor or medical team to decide on a new diagnosis. Imaging and further examination can be performed to confirm the new diagnosis.

Managing Leg Pain After Surgery

Once you have your diagnosis, you and your practitioner can determine the best course of action. Recent studies prove chiropractic treatment after lumbar decompression surgery is a successful pain management option. Your chiropractor can offer leg pain treatment in Waterford, MI.

Electrical Stimulation

Electrical muscle stimulation is commonly performed using a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator, or TENS, machine. Electrodes are placed on the skin, or sometimes under the skin, to deliver small electrical currents. The currents temporarily relieve pain by confusing pain receptors in the nerves in the back and legs.

Flexion-Distraction Technique

This treatment option gently stretches and adjusts compressed nerves in the lower back. Using a special adjustable table, your chiropractor can flex the back with slow, repetitious movements. This rhythmic stretching takes pressure off pinched nerves that cause lower back and leg pain.

Physical Therapy

Gently strengthening the core and lower back muscles will relieve pain and pressure over time. When the muscles properly support the body, less pressure is placed on the spine. This naturally reduces pressure on pinched nerves and pained tissues.

It is important to confirm the diagnosis and treatment options before seeking treatment so you can prevent worsening pain. Your chiropractor can work with your surgeon to create a treatment plan that works to manage your continuing or new leg pain.

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