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yoga and range of motion after laminectomy fused w/hardware?

sarassara Posts: 6
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:54 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am scheduled to have an laminectomy, fused with hardware at L5/S1 in two months and am curious about when I can get back to my regular physical activity, which is already very limited. I have read a lot of people who say to stick to just walking for a while, which I can do. But I love yoga, and am worried that my range of motion will be too limited with the fusion. Has anyone had this procedure and been able to get back to yoga/pilates? If so, when, and with what restrictions?

Thank you.

p.s. I am 33 years old, and have been very active my entire life, until about two years ago when my back became a major problem. Other than this, I have no health problems. I am hoping this will help with the recovery.


  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Talk to your doctor and/or physical therapist. It's imperative not to stretch the area around the fusion NOR the area above it. The level above the fusion will take on more pressure due to spinal fusion. So careful body mechanics from this point forward are required.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • ... take it step by step as your doctor tells you. Once fused. You should have very little restrictions doing yoga. There are certain poses that will hurt and you will have to be careful and limit them. For me extension is the big one.

    Here is an example. I have L5/S1 fusion with rods and screws. If I try to do Cobra pose with full upward extension of my arms including lifting my weight so I'm only on my hands and the front of my feet. That is very much in extension and makes the rods dig into my bones. That is something I don't do. Now just laying on my stomach and doing the pose on my elbows to make a small arch in my back. That is ok.

    Bending in flexion, ie, forward is not a problem for me. So touching my toes etc is no big deal. Twisting in most directions side/side or left/right is ok to a point.

    I don't do full yoga. I do an exercise routine that happens to use a mix of pilates and yoga positions in the stretching.

    I've found that my hamstrings are always tight, along with my lower back, most of the time. I also find a good piraformis stretch helps me a lot. Along with cat/camel.

    My biggest restriction is weight lifting above my head.
  • Keep with the walking and gentle stretching until you've fused and it feels stronger. You're looking at 6-9 months, maybe more.

    My physio had me doing some Pilates at 4-5 months, and it hurt way too much. Even though I modified the exercises and lay on the bed, it was still too much and I had several pain flares.

    I started Qigong (Chi Kung) exercises at 7 months out and was fine. Once I felt the fusion was stronger, I started adding other activities, and for an old girl, I'm still quite flexible and exercise most days. Naturally there's restriction where the fusion is, and I'll always have to put my back first with whatever I'm doing. My main problem is sitting and standing, and I don't think that will change.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Thank you, everyone. :-) I appreciate the advice. As I am sure you all know, going into this is very scary. I know it will change things (hopefully for the better), but I don't know to what extent yet.
  • One other question... what about sex? How long is that off-limits?
  • Sara,

    Start a new post, as you are way down, and this is an important question by itself that merits its own post.

  • Oh, okay, that is not too bad, thank you.
  • Sara,

    I am fused L1-S1 and have worked very hard to keep some flexibility. Let yourself heal first, walking is probably the first thing to do. Going to Physical Therapy will help a lot with your re-strengthening. I was in very good physical shape before my 3 fusions (in 4 years) and I know that helped with my recovery. Swimming is good too. It took me 3 years of hard work to get enough flexibility back to ride my time trial bike. Be patient!! Good luck and let us know how it goes.


    Spinal stenosis, spondolysis, spondolythesis, L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion with instrumentation and bone graft from hip, L1/S1 fusion with replacement disc put in and a nice bolt from my spine to my pelvis; PT, accupuncture, prolotherapy, many cortisone injections, 4 rhizotomies. Currently on tramadol.
    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
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