Is It Safe to Get a Massage After Back Surgery?

August 10, 2014

Many of my patients ask me if they can receive a massage after the spine surgery. I always encourage them to see a licensed massage therapist after their incision site or sites have healed fully. It is important for the spine patient to tell the massage therapist where and what kind of spine surgery they received. Some massage therapists may ask for a doctor’s note or clearance before massaging a client who has received spine surgery recently.

I am happy to clear my patients for massage, as it can help improve circulation to ischemic muscles and help muscles that are both too tight and overstretched. Chronic back pain can lead to postural compensation patterns which can continue even after the back injury is repaired. When paired with physical therapy or exercise, regular massage can help stimulate the muscles to return to their proper postural alignment. Massage therapists can also sometimes help patients stretch and work on improving patients’ active and passive ranges of motion.

Massage also relaxes the patient, which allows the body to rest and heal. A relaxed patient has a better overall prognosis than a stressed patient. Massage is becoming a part of a more integrated, holistic way of looking at modern medicine. Though I work principally on the spine, I make sure that my patients also try to take care of their muscle. It is unfortunately quite common that patients experience back pain after spine surgery. This is often caused by tight or overstretched muscles rather than a dysfunction of the spine. Unfortunately muscles don’t just snap right back into place on their own after spine surgery, but through a combination of physical therapy and massage, the spine patient can restore his or her body to a strong, healthy, comfortable postural alignment.