Gentle Exercise Options Before Surgery

Question: Good Exercises For a Person with Multiple Back Pain Conditions?

After 7 weeks of X-Rays, MRI's and a bone scan, I have been scheduled for surgery. I have Grade 1 spondylolisthesis of the L4-L5 level, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis.

I am in a lot of pain when not taking 800mg of Motrin and Percocet, especially in the morning. Until June 15th, I walked 3 mornings a week and played 6-8 hours of tennis every week. I have been doing nothing since the pain started.

Are there any exercises I can do for the next 6 weeks? Swimming? Upper body weight exercises? I need to try to maintain my weight because I will not be able to do much after the operation either. I've always used exercise as a means of reducing my weight. I don't know how to eat less...and I'm bored, in bed when not working, sitting, watching TV, movies. Help!

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Doctor’s Response: Exercise in a Sitting Position or Water Therapy

Generally, patients with spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis are more comfortable if they are sitting than when they are standing. Therefore, most are able to exercise best if they are in a sitting position. Either a recumbent or an upright stationary exercise bike is usually well tolerated, as you would then be in the sitting position.

The other thing to try is water walking (or aqua therapy). In the water, your joints are unweighted; therefore, exercising in the water does not usually create as much pain as exercise on solid ground.

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In Spine-health’s Doctor Advice section, physicians respond to frequently asked questions about back pain issues. These responses represent the opinion of one physician, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the broader medical community. The advice presented has not been peer reviewed by Spine-health’s medical advisory board.

Written by Medical Reviewer