How to Overcome Post Op Back Pain and Reclaim Your Life

by coachz on December 28, 2011

A Conversation with a Facebook and YouTube Subscriber


How Do I Reclaim My Life After Back Surgery

NOTE: Before I do anything, I want to apologize for my recent neglect when it comes to this blog. A funny thing happened on my way to building this blog…I got my life back!

In the process of regaining my strength and control of my life, I stopped doing some of the things I was advocating, the things that worked for me and for so many others.

Please understand, my advice has always been anecdotal and provided solely to help others, and my neck pain, back pain, and sciatica didn’t completely disappear, but my pain was significantly reduced and I was able to start rebuilding my life.

How great is that?! 

Why am I even mentioning this?

Because I feel responsible and because of all the Christmas (Happy Holidays) emails I sent out to the subscribers of my various blogs and websites? I had the biggest reaction from my back pain blog subscribers.

I have three back pain blogs, all dedicated to helping others overcome their acute and/or chronic neck pain, back pain, and/or sciatica and reclaim their lives.

I honestly love making the videos, writing the articles and blog posts, and providing insight into how I achieved real and lasting pain relief.

I love it!

I just got away from it for a time.

So, the reaction I’m talking about, the one that came from those I tried to help?

It was entirely negative!

I sent out over 500 Christmas eCards/emails to my neck pain, back pain, and sciatica blog subscribers; and, I had the highest open rate I have ever had. I also had the highest unsubscribe numbers to date…all from my back pain websites!

Not one unsubscribe from any of the hundreds of subscribers at any of the other websites or blogs…not one!

I got the message!

I let you down and I am so very sorry! You were in pain and I apparently let some of you down!

My labor of love somehow let several people down to the point that they not only unsubscribed…they complained about spam!

They complained that a Christmas card, a Happy Holidays greeting, constituted spam!

Now understand this:

  • They subscribed
  • They went through a double opt-in system, confirming not once but twice
  • They received a Holiday Greeting not a sales solicitation
  • They unsubscribed (OK, I get it)
  • And then, they complained!

That’s a message!

So, once again, I apologize!

I will do all I can to provide useful information on a regular basis. If I find I cannot? I will either take the blog down or sell it and donate the money to Providence House, a childrens’ shelter in Cleveland, Ohio. Providence House, and one other shelter for domestic violence, have received every penny generated from the sales of ebooks and ecourses specifically designed to help my readers, subscribers, and social media friends with their neck pain, back pain, and sciatica.


Now, on with an exchange that grew into something I thought might help others. This sort of thing happens quite often, either on Facebook, YouTube (where we have had almost 250,000 video views in less than 3 years), or here at Ultimate Bad Back Strategies.

I’d love to hear from you about what happened over Christmas or any insights into the conversation below.


Because you are important to me!

You see, I did all this to help. Somehow it backfired. Lesson learned, point taken.

I wish every one of you the best each and every day!

I also hope each one of you finds relief from whatever kind of pain you are suffering from:

  • Neck Pain
  • Back Pain
  • Sciatica
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Depression as a consequence of chronic pain
  • Failed Back Surgery Syndrome
  • Or any of the other conditions I’ve attempted to cover here

Happy Holidays and the Happiest New Year!


The Facebook Exchange

Anita – FB/YT Friend: Hi John I was watching you tube. Are you the gentlemen who had back surgery?

Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr: Yup! All 14 times! Hurts just thinking about it.

Anita – FB/YT Friend: I just had tlif 6 months ago. Cage l5 s1. I fell off ladder at work totally rupturing the disc. L5 resting on S1. So disc replacement, rods n the screws. Every day is agony. Just wondering if you are better and what helped. In physical therapy now and it’s hell!

Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr: Use ice as often as possible! Heat with the metal will create more inflammation…and thus more pain.

Invest in a solid straight-back rocker and a recliner with an electric control. Invest in 1 or 2 great pillows.

When you can’t sleep or are in too much pain to move, put an ice wrap on your lower back, sit in the recliner, elevate the foot rest, have 1 or two pillows placed under the knees, and recline until comfortable. Put on a good movie, one you know and can follow with your eyes closed or a good audiobook or some peaceful, soothing music.

Then drift off!

It will help with the pain, a lot. Get off the narcotics immediately!

Narcotics will cause rebound pain and you will end up dependent and in pain. A terrible scenario!

Get active! Walk as far as you can each day. Try to walk a little farther on each walk. You will be in more pain if you are inactive, so get active and don’t stop!

Walk to the end of the driveway if that’s all you can do…but start right away.

There are 5 factors that contribute to back pain. You can find them at

Good luck Anita! Let me know if I can help in any way!

Anita – FB/YT Friend: I am still taking 3 Percocet Aday. Do you take anything else instead. I live by ice. It freezes my brain lol. I don’t use heat. I had a bad bout of inflammation month 3. I guess the active part is what I really need to work on. I do walk but not far. I am sure my weight don’t help. Many nights I can’t sleep. We had just bought a new sofa and chair right before injury. So I Need to look at that. I just came across your videos and something told me I really needed to reach out to you. Physical therapy had me squatting lifting 40lbs before I even could just do squats. That set me back That happened 3 weeks ago.

So how are you doing now? How long has it been?

Anita – FB/YT Friend: John I pulled up sight but on fb I can’t get but part. I will try to google it. If still can’t maybe I can have you email it.

Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr: I almost lost my life to osteomyelitis, a staph infection introduced along with the plates, screws, etc. Over the years, I have had 15 major surgeries, 14 on my spine, a total shoulder reconstruction, and a broken neck.

The worst thing was the pain. It wasn’t until I got off the pain meds and started doing a little more each & every day that my life started to turn around.

I not only have the experience as a patient, I have the education as a physical anthropologist. So, while not a medical doctor, I understand the spine and SI joint as well as anyone alive.

The more active you get, the more weight you will drop and the stronger your muscles will become. Deal with the muscle strength, the activity level, and the meds and you will do well. Be careful with PT. They often have no idea what they are doing, particularly when it comes to spine surgery and chronically acute pain.

Great about the ice!

When sleeping, I sleep on my side with a decent pillow between my legs, one at my belly (to keep me from rolling onto my stomach), and one or two under my head. The idea is to keep your spine straight from the cervical region to the sacrum. If someone looked at you while you’re resting on your side, they could draw a straight line. That’s how your spine should line up! It will help with sleep too.

Here are the first steps I took:

  • Buy comfortable shoes
  • Use ice often
  • Walk a bit farther each day
  • Integrate a stretching program (twice daily – morning and bedtime)
  • Buy a comfortable chair and follow the instructions I gave you
  • Count your steps (plan your days to provide for special activities late in the day and to reduce pain)
  • Get a Handicap card or sticker for your car (1 fall on the ice will undo everything – and it helps with counting steps)

By counting steps I mean, you only have so much energy and pain tolerance on any one day, particularly when starting out post-op. So, make sure you have enough in reserve to make it through the entire day!

That should do it. At least it will help!

BTW, don’t swim!

Everyone wants to get you into the pool. People think swimming is the be-all to end-all! It’s not true. If you want to get in the water, fine. Just make sure you walk in the water. Do not swim!

Eventually, you will be able to do more:

  • Swim
  • Ride a bike (recumbent)
  • Go for long walks
  • And much more

However, when you begin remember to count your steps and to use baby steps!

Best wishes to you in the new year. Contact me anytime and take care Anita!


Postscript from Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr: Would you mind if I use our conversation on my blog? I will of course change your name if you want me to but I think it will help a lot of people!


Anita – FB/YT Friend: No don’t mind. For now you can just change or use last name. Icing 😉 Lol

Don’t understand the blog thing.

Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr: NO worries! Thank you!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Von McCord July 25, 2012 at 2:02 am

Back pain is the worst…especially the pain related to the sciatic nerve. Inflammation is a killer for it.

Sarah D September 28, 2012 at 7:09 am

I think getting in the water really makes a difference – you are right, don’t just start swimming! – but move around in the water as you are able. Any movement will help circulation and speed healing, just gradually do more as you are able.

Matt April 8, 2013 at 6:32 am

My cousin is experiencing a back pain and her doctor recommended her to have a swimming exercise. I think swimming would be a good activity to start if you’re experiencing back pain so that the body will continuously move and the blood will circulate properly.

coachz July 25, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Yes, we’re all told that as kids: swimming is the best exercise. Unfortunately, it’s just not true! It’s not the best exercise for people with chronic back pain…and in particular for people just starting out! Start by walking and stretching, very slow at first. It is much easier on the body and your blood will circulate and the endorphins will even help a bit!

Best of luck to you!


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