Considerations for Massage Therapy After Hip or Back Surgery

Massage therapy can be beneficial for a multitude of injuries and conditions. Low back pain is the most common orthopedic complaint, and when a disc herniation is present, the pressure it exerts on a nerve can cause intense pain or numbness and tingling in the hips or legs. Degenerative disc disease (DDD) may create similar symptoms. When these injuries are severe, and preventive therapies are unsuccessful, surgery may be the last and only option. A discectomy or a vertebral fusion may be performed to alleviate this pressure.

After surgery, the patient begins the acute recovery process, and may attend physical or occupational therapy. With everything the patient has to endure, it would be understandable to be weary of massage therapy. Massage therapy can be extremely helpful, and good communication between the client and therapist will ensure the best outcome. With that in mind, these are the things to consider:

  1. If you are still under a doctor’s care, obtain an order/script referring massage therapy, along with any precautions.
  2. Please inform the massage therapist of your medical history, including
    1.  surgeries
    2. medications
    3. areas that are painful to the touch and also to move
    4. if certain movements are restricted due to a surgical procedure like a vertebral fusion. For example, in the situation of a total hip replacement, especially a recent one, certain movements should be avoided and the therapist should be informed for client safety.
  1. The therapist may conduct a more thorough assessment to gather all necessary data, as well as look at motion and strength to determine the best course of action.
  2. The therapist will be careful and should “check in” as needed, but any sharp painful discomfort should be reported.

Effective massage therapy can definitely improve mobility of tight areas responding to the physical and mental trauma of surgery and recovery. Proper disclosure, feedback during the massage session, and regular updates allow the massage therapist to treat confidently and safely.

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