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My self-prescribed Post Cervical Op PT routine, is it any good?

TonyDiscTTonyDisc Posts: 26
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:42 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I was not prescribed PT by my surgeon, and was told its ok to do all my own exercises within my limits.

This is my self-prescribed PT at 16 days post op (Posterior Cervical Micro-D without fusion), let me know if its any good or not.

- Swimming:
At the moment, I have started light swimming (I did around 600 metres today with 30 second rests between each 100m)

- Weights
I am now doing weights every 48 hours in the gym, concentrating on the muscles that have atrophied. I have set all weights to roughly 40% of what I could do before the accident.

- Walking
Plenty of walking everyday, this is almost pain free now although the arm goes a bit tingly and numb and heavy. I tried today for the first time to break into a jog, that lasted about 10 steps before it felt too much.

- Icing
I apply ice a few times a day for around 15 minutes each time.

I have complete ROM in the neck, although some movements still trigger a dull pain down the shoulder and arm (it used to be a sharp pain, not sure what the dullness means?)

Coughing and sneezing is still pretty painful and can leave me with a sore aching arm for up to an hour afterwards.

Anyway, please let me know what you think about my "PT" regime. Is it adequate? How does it compare to one made by an actual Physical Therapist?

(29 year old male, peak physical condition before an accident resulted in large C5/6 herniation)




  • Unfortunately we can't speak as experts on the subject or make personal recommendations. We aren't physicians and it would be dangerous for anyone to make recommendations.

    Your surgeon should be your guide. He/she is the one who saw the structural stability/instability of your spine, the condition of the discs, ligaments and muscles. So the authority on your c-spine and how to rehab it should start with the surgeon first.

    My NS always recommended that I not try and focus on rehabbing the specific muscles that have atrophied and become imbalanced. His recommendation for me, was to work out like normal, just start with very light weights and allow my body to build and compensate as it sees fit. He also recommended that I stick with free weights to avoid weird compensations brought on by using weight machines.

    As far as adequate ... once again, that's where you, your body and your NS need to come to an agreement.

    I think it's fantastic that you have been able to recover so nicely from your surgery. That's quite a testament to your conditioning and age.

    Best wishes,

  • Hey thanks for the reply C. Of course I realise we have varying personal situations, but I was just looking for some feedback as I want to get a general idea of what to do. To be honest, my surgeon is very general when it comes to rehab. He is an excellent surgeon with a lot of experience, and is definitely no-nonsense, but when it comes to rehab he seemed fine with leaving it up to me.

    I find it interesting - the concept of not targeting the specific muscles that wasted away. That makes sense. What was the nature of your injury, and associated radiculopathy? Have the free weighs sessions helped you regain some strength and/or muscle mass?


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    only your doctor can approve or disapprove of your exercise program.

    Within Limits is a broad term. For some, that could mean walking from their bedroom to the TV room, while for others it could mean walking at a fast pace for 5 miles.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Please be very careful with the swimming, particularly with a cervical surgery. Swimming is not the benign activity people make it out to be if you have spine problems.

    In your case, be very careful how you move your neck. If you are swimming freestyle, I have read it is very difficult on the neck. Also any kind of reaching overhead (as you do when swimming) can put additional stress on the discs.
  • Swimming is far from easy going. It seems that way. I had lumbar surgery. However my PT told me no swimming after surgery. Lumbar or cervical. Swimming is too much twisting on your spine. Your whole spine, top to bottom. Only thing I did in the pool was walk. With ankle weights after a while. Then basic exercises in the pool.

    First 3 months I was on 10lb or less weight restriction. So lifting 40% of what I used too would be well over that.

    Walking seems to be the default answer for most people. Beyond that it gets very specific.

    I'd send what you just posted to your surgeon and see if he agrees with your regimen. He may have assumed you wouldn't get too aggressive. It would be a shame to think you are exercising to rebuild and end up screwing up your surgery.

  • I had a motorcycle accident many moons ago where my head impacted the car that pulled in front of me, tore my FF helmet from chin to behind my ear and then I flipped over and slammed my head on the pavement. I had shooting pains for many years that was as if someone was hitting me over and over with a cattle prod to the back of my head.

    Anyway, after numerous blocks, Botox, Rhizotomies etc ... I had two posterior surgeries at C1 and C2 to remove the dorsal ganglion, take care of a vascular issue and remove a portion of C1. The surgeries took care of the shooting head pains, but denervated 2 muscles completely causing them to atrophy to nothing and caused other muscles to become imbalanced. There's more but you should have some idea now.

    So basically with the ganglionectomy a laminectomy had to be done at C2 along with removing a portion of C1. All posterior, which was no fun.

    I have bilateral radiculopathy that is now controlled with a Spinal Cord Stimulator and Neurontin. My shoulders and neck are very asymmetrical, but the more I work them the stronger they are becoming and the muscles although imbalanced are gaining good tone. I have to be a bit more cautious due to having the SCS, since I have already torn the anchors loose once and had to have a revision done.

    Even with all my lower back surgery, the NS had me do the same thing. Work the body as a complete unit and allow it to find the way it wants to compensate. He said otherwise I would just succeed in creating an different imbalance and cause further issues to develop.


  • Crap that all sounds awful, I didn't even know they could remove the root ganglion. What do C1/2 innervate, neck muscles and parts of the shoulders? At least you are gaining tone again in your shoulders, thats good news.

    I have never heard of a spinal cord stimulator or what one does, ill have to look that up.

    I hope things continue to progress for you.

    And to everyone else: Yes maybe I will lay off the swimming a little bit. I was comfortable swimming today and turning my head to breath, although when i did some straight forward swimming with my head purposely held out of the water (like a water polo player) i did feel a fair amount of pain in the neck and my bad shoulder, so i guess ill take it a bit easier and stop pushing too much. I am known for being an impatient person with a lot of energy. Already these 10 weeks since injury have come close to driving me insane, I am normally an extremely hyperactive/sporty person and the downtime has really got on top of me. Especially since I am also unemployed now.

    Thanks all.

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