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Physical Therapy after Lumbar Fusion

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,670
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Financial considerations due to my unemployment will force me to limit or completely bypass my physical therapy after my upcoming lumbar fusion (L4-S1).

Please share your ideas and thoughts with me on the wisdom of this idea.

Thank You



  • ...after my fusion & I fused just fine. NS thought walking, gentle streching & normal activity would suffice. I did some basic "core work" I had learned after my 2nd surgery (when I did have some PT) & walked, walked & walked some more.

    Just my 2 cents. Get your doc's OK before you start anything more than walking anyway. PT comes further down the line, if it comes at all & in my case, it didn't & I did just fine. (The stuff I have now is chronic from nerve damage, which PT wouldn't have helped anyway.)

  • I would not be overly concerned. Some surgeons do not recommend PT feeling it often does more harm than good. As Lakeside said, the most important activity is walking anyway. You will start with that almost immediately in the hospital and you should continue when you get home.

    The discs, etc. do not have much blood flow to them, so walking is important to bring freshly oxygenated blood to the surgical area. Also, it is the best exercise to stretch the spinal nerves to keep them from getting bound up with scar tissue. Distance is less important than walking frequently, at least several times each day.

    At the beginning I would plan my walks around my trips to the bathroom. I could only walk the length of my house where I had a chair to rest on...then I would walk back to a bed we had set up in the den. This was January in the north so it was too icy to go outside....This was my pattern for the first couple weeks.

    If you aren't lucky in finding a really great PT that specializes in orthopedic cases, it sometimes isn't worth the expense and time even when you can "afford" it. The most valuable service my PT performed was really educating me about muscle movement, body mechanics and learning to move muscles in isolation. We spent a lot of time having me learn all this so that I can avoid stressing out the adjacent spinal segments to avoid the "domino effect."

    After your surgeon OKs you to do a bit more movement, there are many websites where you can find exercises for making your back stronger after surgery. After looking at a number of them, you will start to see which exercises are used universally and you can figure out which ones make sense to you.

    I think you'll do just fine.

    When is your surgery??

  • Honestly,...physical therapy didn't do much for me except make me sore all over again when I actually was feeling better. I think walking and mild core exercises could be just as efficient. Maybe starting out in the pool first. Most surgeons will have access to a packet full of PT exercises you can do at home. I think formal PT (where the therapist actually does something other than give orders) is needed in extreme cases only.

    JMO. I'm obviously not a fan. Another thing, when I hear of someone with back problems who attends PT and is then "all better", it'll be a first.

    Of course, ask you doctor though.
  • I've had two recent back operations and they do cause a weakening in your core muscles, not helped by the forced inactivity while recovering. The easiest way to reverse this is walking in the water in a pool. You need the water to be chest high and hold out a styrene float upright and at arms length pushing it down in the water. Then, keeping your legs straight and your ankles flexed, walk across the pool. The float, pushing against the water will make you unstable as you walk but in doing so, makes you "switch on and fire up" your cores muscles making you stronger over time. I did this every week day for half an hour for 4 months last year and it definitely helped. I've been doing the same again this year since my second surgery too. It is very boring and you need to be very self motivated, but it works. Hope it helps.
    Brian McCarthy (London UK)
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