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Lower Spine News

Rehab After Lumbar Disc Surgery

Do you really have to do those exercises after a lumbar discectomy (disc removal)? According to this study, yes -- if you want to get back to work sooner, see your doctor less often, and feel better in general.

Patients with a diagnosis of lumbrosacral radicular syndrome (LRS) were included in this study. This means a disc was protruding and causing painful back and leg symptoms. A simple discectomy to remove the disc was done.

The patients were divided into two groups after surgery. One group received a formal exercise program. The patients in this group were supervised by a physical therapist three times a week for six months. The second (control) group was given general advice only. They were told to get back to their normal daily routine as soon as possible.

Results will be reported after a three-year period. This study reports patient results after one year. The one-year outcomes showed no difference between the two groups in terms of function. However the exercise group went back to work a week earlier than the control group. And the control group needed an extra 14 weeks of worker's compensation.

So although the functional results were the same after a year's time, the financial savings of the exercise group were significant. The authors suggest future studies to compare exercise programs and find which one works best.


Barry L. Donaldson, Dip, Phys, et al. Comparison of Usual Surgical Advice Versus a Nonaggravating Six-Month Gym-Based Exercise Rehabilitation Program Post-Lumar Discectomy: Results at One-Year Follow-Up. In The Spine Journal. July/August 2006. Vol. 6. No. 4. Pp. 357-363.

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