Exercise After Lumbar Disc Surgery


Exercise After Lumbar Disc Surgery.

What do we know about exercise after lumbar disc surgery? Should we exercise and rehab our back? Should we rest? Should we return to normal activity ASAP?

Presented below is a summary of findings regarding the role of exercise following lumbar disc surgery as set out in a Cochrane review. The Cochrane Collaboration is an international not-for-profit organisation, providing up-to-date information about the effects of health care.

Should I Exercise 4-6 weeks after disc surgery?

Two high quality pieces of research compared intensive exercise programs (supervised strength sessions 2 times per week and home exercise once) with mild exercise programs (home based gentle exercise) starting 4-6 weeks after surgery. (Danielsen 2000; Johannsen 1994; Manniche 1993a).

The results of the studies reveal that Intensive supervised programmes lead to,


  1. An earlier return to normal daily activities.
  2. A quicker return to work on short-term follow-up.
  3. Better short term pain relief.
  4. No increase in re-operation rates or complications in the long term.



As there are observed benefits to early intensive exercise, and no measured increase in complications, and it can be concluded that it is not harmful to return to activity after lumbar disc surgery and, consequently, that it is not necessary for patients to stay passive after a lumbar disc surgery.

This research provides good evidence that early movement and exercise rehabilitation is beneficial following lumbar discectomy and microdiscectomy. A supervised programme started with in 4 to 6 weeks of surgery is safe and effective.


Rehabilitation after lumbar disc surgery. Ostelo RWJG, de Vet HCW, Waddell G, Kerckhoffs MR, Leffers P, van Tulder MW. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2002, Issue 2.


Links for Physical Therapies for Pain Management




Links for Physiotherapy


Links for Physical Rehabilitation Therapy



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