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The Importance of Physical Therapy

Posted on June 19, 2020
The Importance of Physical Therapy

The Importance of Physical TherapySurgical intervention is sometimes the best treatment option for those who struggle with chronic concerns or severe conditions and injuries. However, surgery is not enough to get you into optimal health.

The road to recovery can be just as intense as the surgery itself. Regardless of what kind of surgery you’ve had, big or small, it can take a toll on your body. This can leave patients weakened, immobilized, and still in pain.

We understand that patients wish to recover quickly so they can return to their day-to-day life, which is why we want to remind our patients that physical therapy is one of the most important parts of having a healthy and successful surgery.

Why is physical therapy important?

Though recovery occurs after the physical portion of the surgery, it is one of the most crucial times of any surgery. It is during this time that patients can make or break the success of the procedure.

Physical therapy helps your muscles, joints, soft tissue, and bones function again after surgery through directed motions.

Your physical therapist will help you to regain strength and return to daily activities sooner by helping you to recover faster in a safe and controlled environment. At first, you will begin with simple exercises that involve stretching and flexing before moving onto more intense exercises as you recover. Their job is to safely push you so that you make a healthy and complete recovery.

It is not only about helping you to become physically active after surgery, but to help you remain active long after you’ve fully recovered.

How does it help?

Physical therapy aids the healing process. These seemingly simple stretching and strengthening exercises help patients to regain balance, muscle control, strength, and range of motion.

Not only do physical therapists help you recover, but they also regularly monitor your recovery. They can spot problems early on and address them before a problem becomes severe enough to bother you.

Your physical therapist will work with you and your doctor to customize your treatment plan and adjust it as necessary. It is carefully planned and supervised. Common types of physical therapy include:

  • Range of motion exercises
  • Balance exercises
  • Strength training
  • Stretching and flexibility exercises
  • Low impact cardiovascular exercises

Regular physical therapy helps to alleviate any post-surgical pain by removing pressure and strain on the surgical area. This can also lessen a patient’s reliance on prescription pain medication through recovery.

What happens if you neglect physical therapy?

Patients who remain inactive or limit their movement during recovery can actually do more damage than good. Patients who do not follow their physical therapy recommendations often experience muscle weakness, loss of function and mobility, and an increase in the risk of postoperative complications.

By not following your recommended plan or by failing to do your exercises at home, you limit, delay, and possibly even lower the success of your surgery.

Physical therapy is a vital part of your post-operative care. Not only can it help quicken the healing process, but it works to improve your balance, flexibility, strength, and range of motion. Some patients report even becoming stronger than they were before surgery.

For more information on the importance of physical therapy after surgery, contact Paul M. Brisson, MD Orthopedic Spinal Surgeon today.

When To See A Spinal Surgeon

Posted on May 28, 2020
When To See A Spinal Surgeon

Have you been experiencing back pain for years that doesn’t seem to go away with treatment? Is the pain unbearable? If so, it might be time for you to see a spinal surgeon. We specialize in treating patients with a variety of spinal issues and are here to help when you are in need of a spinal specialist. For your convenience, we have provided some more information about the signs and symptoms that you should visit us.

Severe Back Pain

There are instances when back pain can be severe enough to require medical attention from a specialist. But how do you determine whether your pain is severe enough to merit a trip to our office? While each case is unique, there are a few indicators that can help you decide the best course of action when it comes to seeking treatment for your back pain.

Mild to moderate back pain can usually be treated and managed without the need for surgical intervention. Typically lower back pain or general back pain that does not interfere with your day to day life can be addressed with your primary care provider. However, if the pain is bad enough to bother you daily while during your usual day to day activities, seek the help of a spinal surgeon. The pain can change your behavior and personality, and many patients describe it as “pain you simply can’t take anymore.” Severe back pain that requires the attention of a specialist will affect various aspects of your daily life and may make movement difficult. You may also experience trouble walking and leg pain. If you have leg or lower back pain that persists for more than a few weeks, it is time to see a spinal surgeon.

Medical Emergencies

Medical emergencies are an additional reason to see a spinal surgeon. If you experience weakness in the legs or numbness in the buttocks, hips, or legs, these symptoms could be indicative of a more serious, urgent condition. Severe back pain accompanied by other symptoms such as bladder and bowel dysfunction are important to address immediately as well as these could be indicators of a rare but serious disorder called cauda equina syndrome. This disorder is considered a surgical emergency and affects the bundle of nerve roots at the lower end of the spinal cord. Patients who experience this condition are typically successful with treatment if they seek medical attention immediately.
It is important that you seek immediate medical care either at our office or at the nearest emergency room if you experience these types of symptoms in order to prevent permanent damage such as incontinence or paralysis.

Will I need surgery?

Many patients avoid seeking care from their spinal specialist out of fear that they will need spinal surgery. Most cases of back pain are able to be treated without surgery, and we will always recommend non-surgical treatment options before resorting to surgical intervention. However, if surgical methods are required, you don’t need to panic! What most people don’t know is that surgical treatment methods don’t always mean extensive recovery times and a hospital stay. With today’s technology and treatment options, we are often able to provide less invasive options that allow for quicker recovery times and in some cases the ability to return home the same day of surgery.

If you have been experiencing severe back pain, don’t spend another day in agony. Contact Paul M. Brisson, MD Orthopedic Spinal Surgeon today to schedule a consultation and begin your journey to a more comfortable, better life!

Preparing Yourself for Back Surgery

Preparing Yourself for Back Surgery

If you are scheduled for back surgery, you may be a little worried about how it will turn out. Fortunately, we are here to offer our assistance to you, and you will be happy to note that there is a lot you can do to ensure your operation and recovery are both successful. Before proceeding with your surgery, it is important that you fully understand the surgery and what you should expect in the weeks or month following. It is our goal to help you feel more comfortable with your back surgery and how it may impact your life afterward.


During your initial consultation, you and your doctor will go over all of your medication that you may be currently taking or have taken recently in the past. This is important because you should avoid NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. These common over-the-counter pain relief medications can thin your blood which may increase your risk for complications during surgery and recovery. Your doctor will go over your medication and advise you on what you should and shouldn’t take in the weeks before your procedure.

Prepare Your Home 

Many patients have found it beneficial to prepare their homes beforehand to make their recovery after surgery as safe and convenient as possible. Some recommendations we have for preparing your home include:

  • Place frequently used objects in convenient locations within easy reach. This includes dishes and cookware that you may typically store in upper or lower cabinets. You should avoid bending or reaching during your recovery.
  • Consider purchasing a “reacher” or “grabber” as it is a favorite item among patients who are restricted from bending or reaching. There are several styles, but all are lightweight and handheld devices with a grabbing mechanism at the end. They are about 3 feet long and have the ability to pick up even small objects such as napkins or pencils. These tools can be purchased at local department stores, pharmacies, rehabilitation stores, and online.
  • To avoid spending lengthy amounts of time on your feet, think about food preparation. Some patients find it helpful to prepare meals in advance or stock their house with frozen and easy to make foods to save time and energy after surgery.
  • A toilet riser can come in handy if you anticipate any difficulty getting on or off the toilet after surgery. They are usually 8 inches tall and are secured onto your existing toilet seat.

The Night Before

As with many surgeries, your doctor may advise you to avoid eating or drinking anything after a certain time the night before your surgery, regardless of what time your surgery may be scheduled. If you eat before surgery, there is an increased risk of you vomiting while under anesthesia which may cause lethal choking.

Home Transport

It is important to note that you will not be able to drive yourself home after surgery, so be sure to make arrangements beforehand. Please note that it may be a while before you can drive. If you are going to travel, even as a passenger, be sure to take frequent breaks and ask your health care provider for tips on how to minimize irritation and discomfort during long-distance travel.

Ask for a Helping Hand 

Depending on the type of surgery, it may be a good idea to enlist the help of a family member, close friend, or home nurse to assist you around the house. Some patients may need help with physical care, light chores, errands, and cooking.

Educating yourself is key to enabling you to feel confident and comfortable about what to expect and all the potential outcomes of the procedure. Understand that surgery may not fix everything. It can make a difference in how you feel and function, but it should not be considered a “cure-all”. Building up your core, maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise, and avoiding unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking are all beneficial to improving your condition, helping you to heal faster, and avoiding discomfort in the future.

For more information on how best to prepare for back surgery, please contact Paul M. Brisson, MD Orthopedic Spinal Surgeon.

Find Relief From Neck Pain, Numbness, and Weakness

Posted on July 12, 2019

It’s crucial to get neck pain treatment as soon as possible to live a pain-free life and prevent the possibility of additional damage.


  1.   Disease — neck pain can be a side effect of rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis, cancer and more.
  2.   Herniated disc — the cushions between vertebrae have a soft nucleus and tough shell. If any of the nucleus matter pushes through the shell, it can compress nerves.
  3.   Spinal stenosis — a narrowing of the spinal canal pinches the nerves. Common to people over age 50,  osteoarthritis results from normal wear and tear, but treatment can relieve symptoms.
  4.   Muscle strains — overworking the muscles by spending too many hours hunched over your electronics or doing too many reps at the gym.
  5.   Whiplash — whenever the head is yanked back and forth quickly, the soft tissues of the neck might get stretched farther than they should.

If you experience acute neck pain plus confusion, drowsiness, fever, headache, light sensitivity or vomiting, cervical spine pain may be just a symptom of a more serious problem. You need neck pain treatment immediately to discover the underlying cause, which may be a medical emergency.


Neck pain treatment always starts with physical therapy. Options include stretching and exercise to relieve pain and increase range of motion; anti-inflammatory medications or muscle relaxants; steroidal injections at the location of the pain. When these don’t do enough, one of these neck pain surgery options may be indicated:

Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) removes one or more herniated discs and joins two adjacent vertebrae together.

Cervical Spine Fusion joins two bones to help stabilize the neck; in some cases, titanium implants or plates join the vertebrae together until new bone grows between them.

Posterior Laminectomy and Laminoplasty reduce pinching on the nerves by removing the thin bony layer covering the spinal canal so a disc can move back into place while removing bone spurs in the canal.

Cervical Corpectomy and Fusion removes a whole vertebra or disc then joins surrounding vertebrae.

Complex Revision of an ACDF removes previously inserted implants and hardware which have failed or inserts new hardware, implants or additional bone grafts.

Dr. Brisson will always explain the details, risks, and benefits of any procedure. After 25 years in practice in Manhattan, Dr. Brisson has earned a reputation few physicians can match for relieving pain. Contact the office today if you need neck pain relief. The sooner treatment starts, the sooner you find relief.

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