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Can You Get a Massage after a Discectomy?


12.6 - Can You Get a Massage after a Discectomy-min
A discectomy is a surgical procedure that involves removing a damaged disc from the spine. It is usually done to treat conditions such as herniated discs, sciatica, or spinal stenosis. A discectomy can relieve pain, numbness, and weakness in the back and legs, but it also requires a recovery period that may last several weeks or months.

Discectomy recovery is a delicate process that requires careful consideration of various factors. One of the questions many people have after a discectomy is whether they can get a massage. Massage therapy can have many benefits for the body and mind, such as reducing stress, increasing blood circulation, easing muscle tension, and promoting relaxation. However, it may not be advisable for everyone. This article explores the possibilities, benefits, and precautions associated with getting a massage after a discectomy.

The Potential Benefits of Massage Therapy

Massage therapy, when performed by a trained professional, can offer several potential benefits during the post-discectomy recovery phase. These include:

  • Pain relief – Massage therapy can help to alleviate muscle tension and reduce pain, contributing to an overall sense of comfort.
  • Increased circulation – Gentle massage techniques may enhance blood circulation, promoting faster healing by delivering essential nutrients to the affected area.
  • Stress reduction – The recovery process can be mentally and emotionally taxing. Massage therapy has the potential to alleviate stress, promoting a positive mindset during healing.
  • Increased range of motion – Targeted massage therapy can address stiffness and increase flexibility, aiding in the restoration of a healthy range of motion.

Risks of Getting a Massage after a Discectomy

Getting a massage after a discectomy may pose some risks, especially if you have not fully healed from the surgery. Some of the potential complications include:

  • Infection – Massage therapy can introduce bacteria or other microorganisms into the surgical site, which can cause an infection. This can delay the healing process and require additional treatment. To prevent this, you should delay getting a massage until your incision has closed and healed completely.
  • Bleeding – Massage therapy can increase blood flow to the affected area, which can cause bleeding or hematoma (a collection of blood under the skin). This can also interfere with healing and cause pain and swelling. You should avoid getting a massage until your doctor has cleared you for physical activity.
  • Nerve damage – Massage therapy can put pressure on the nerves in the spine, which can cause nerve damage or aggravate existing nerve problems. This can result in more pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the back and legs. To avoid this, you should not get a massage that involves deep tissue manipulation or stretching of the spine.
  • Disc reherniation – Massage therapy can cause movement or displacement of the remaining disc material in the spine, which can lead to disc reherniation (a recurrence of the disc problem that required surgery). This can cause severe pain and disability and may require another surgery. To prevent this, you should avoid getting a massage that involves twisting or bending the spine.

When to Consider Massage Therapy

While massage therapy offers potential benefits, it is crucial to approach it with caution and only after consulting with a healthcare professional. Consider the following factors:

  • The type and extent of the surgery – A discectomy can vary in terms of the amount of tissue removed, the size and location of the incision, the type of anesthesia used, and the presence of any complications or infections. These factors can affect the healing process and recovery time. Generally, the more invasive the surgery, the longer the recovery time and the more precautions necessary.
  • The stage and progress of the recovery – Discectomy recovery can be divided into several phases, depending on the patient’s condition and the surgeon’s recommendations: 
    • Typically, the first phase lasts for about 3 weeks, during which the patient should avoid any activities that can strain the spine, such as bending, twisting, lifting, or driving. 
    • The second phase lasts for about 3 to 6 weeks, during which the patient can gradually resume some activities, such as walking, swimming, or cycling. 
    • The third phase lasts for about 6 to 12 weeks, during which the patient can start some strengthening and stretching exercises, such as bridges, pelvic tilts, or hamstring stretches. 
    • The fourth phase lasts for about 3 to 6 months, during which the patient can return to most normal activities, such as jogging, golfing, or gardening.
  • The type and intensity of the massage – A massage can vary in terms of the technique, pressure, duration, and frequency of the therapy. Some massage techniques are more gentle and soothing, such as Swedish or relaxation massage, while others are more deep and stimulating, such as deep tissue or sports massage. 

Precautions for Getting a Massage after a Discectomy

If you decide to get a massage after a discectomy, you should take some precautions to ensure your safety and comfort. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Consult your doctor – Before getting a massage, you should get your doctor’s approval. The doctor can advise you on when it is safe to get a massage, what type of massage is suitable for you, and what areas to avoid. You should also inform the doctor if you experience any adverse effects from the massage.
  • Choose a qualified therapist – Choose a massage therapist who is licensed, trained, and experienced in working with clients who have had spinal surgery. Communicate with the therapist about your medical history, goals, preferences, and comfort level. Ask the therapist to explain what he or she is going to do and how it will benefit you.
  • Start slowly and gently – Start with a short, gentle massage session that focuses on relaxing and soothing techniques. Avoid any massage that is too intense, too long, or too frequent. You should also avoid any massage that causes pain or discomfort. Listen to your body and stop the massage if you feel any negative symptoms.
  • Follow aftercare instructions – After getting a massage, follow the aftercare instructions given by the therapist. Drink plenty of water to hydrate yourself and flush out any toxins. You should also rest and avoid any strenuous activity for at least 24 hours. Monitor your condition and report any changes to your doctor or therapist.

In the realm of post-discectomy recovery, the integration of massage therapy can be a supportive element. However, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and careful consideration and professional guidance are essential. By approaching massage with mindfulness and in consultation with healthcare providers, individuals can potentially harness its benefits in promoting comfort and aiding the healing process.

Even though discectomies and less invasive microdiscectomies are among the most common and generally quite successful back surgery procedures, a hole is frequently left in the outer wall of the disc. In fact, patients with these large holes in their discs are more than twice as likely to reinjure themselves by experiencing what is known as a reherniation. These reherniations often require additional surgery or even fusions. Fortunately, there is a new treatment specifically designed to close the large holes that are often left in spinal discs after discectomy surgery. Barricaid is a bone-anchoreddevice proven to reduce reherniations, and 95 percent of Barricaid patients did not undergo a reoperation due to reherniation in a 2-year study timeframe. This treatment isperformed immediately following the discectomy—during the same operation—and does not require any additional incisions or time in the hospital. 

If you have any questions about the Barricaid treatment or how to get access to Barricaid, ask your doctor or contact us at 844-705-1081.

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