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Wanted: Best Rehab Program after Lumbar Disc Surgery

It's not clear what long-term training program gives the best results after lumbar disc surgery. This study compares 12 months of combined strength training and stretching with a program of just stretching. Patients with severe back and leg pain from lumbar disc herniation were included. It was the first lumbar disc surgery for each one.

Measures of success included pain, strength, motion, and flexibility. Strength couldn't be tested before surgery because of extreme pain. Trunk and leg strength and flexibility were tested right after the operation. Results after surgery were compared with results 12 months after the operation.

The strength-training group (STG) was given a home program for 12 months. They did strength exercises using body weight or handheld weights for resistance. They also did stretching exercises three times a week. The second (control) group (CG) was given the same stretching exercises to be done three times a week.

There was no difference in results between the two groups. Both got better following the exercise program given to them. The authors report patients in both groups did their exercises but not as often as they were supposed to. It's possible the training frequency was too low in the STG to make a difference.

The researchers advise better supervision and support is needed to keep patients motivated in long-term rehab programs.


Arja Häkkinen, PdD, et al. Effects of Home Strength Training and Stretching Versus Stretching Alone after Lumbar Disk Surgery: A Randomized Study with a 1-Year Follow-Up. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. May 2005. Vol. 86. No. 5. Pp. 865-870.

07/14/2005

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