I’m going to have back surgery to remove two discs. I’ve heard different advice about restricting my activities after the operation. What’s the latest on this?
There are many debates going on about this. Much of the difficulty comes because of patient’s fears that he or she will reinjure the back. Many doctors suggest active treatment or rehab after lumbar disc surgery. Others adopt a more “minimal” approach, such as telling the patient to do what feels comfortable.
In fact, a group of researchers in the Netherlands did a review of many studies. These were done in centers around the world between 1966 and 2000. The results show that there’s no danger of reinjury when patients return to activity early after the operation. Staying quiet and inactive isn’t needed for a good result.
Exercise should start four to six weeks after the operation. Those patients who receive intense rehab at this time, return to activity and work sooner than those who do nothing.
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. January 1, 2003. Vol. 28. No. 3. Pp. 209-218.
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