After Lumbar Disc SurgeryAre you having low back (lumbar) surgery for disc problems for the first time? Wondering what's best after surgery? So are the experts! Little is known about what treatment works best to get patients back to activity and back to work while avoiding reinjury.
Doctors and physical therapists in the Netherlands took a look at the "big picture." They reviewed studies done around the world from 1966 to 2000. They put patients into three groups. These included back patients who had treatment right after surgery, those who had treatment four to six weeks after surgery, and those who waited more than 12 months after surgery.
For each group, active rehab was compared to no treatment. Active rehab was also compared to other kinds of treatment. Some of these studies also looked at a specific treatment added to active rehab versus active rehab alone. Which group had the best result?
Getting treatment right after surgery didn't seem to change the final results. Strikingly, those patients who received exercise programs four to six weeks after surgery went back to their routine activities and work sooner. Proof for the effectiveness of other treatments was limited.
The authors of this review say it won't hurt to return to activity after lumbar disc surgery. In other words, patients don't have to remain quiet or passive after this operation. For those patients who are afraid of reinjury, there's no proof that this happens as a result of safely returning to an active lifestyle.
Raymond W. J. G. Ostelo, PhD, PT, et al. Rehabilitation Following First-Time Lumbar Disc Surgery. A Systematic Review Within the Framework of the Cochrane Collaboration. In Spine. February 1, 2003. Vol. 28. No. 3. Pp. 209-218.
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