Recommended Exercises After Lumbar Laminectomy and Discectomy Surgery (2022)

A lumbar laminectomy and discectomy is a surgical procedure that your orthopedic or neurologic surgeon may perform to help decrease pain and improve mobility. The procedure involves cutting away disc and bone material that may be pressing against the nerves coming from your spine.

You may benefit from physical therapy after a lumbar laminectomy and discectomy to help you fully recover.The goals of low-back rehab after surgery are to help you regain full range of motion and strength in your spine and to help you return to your previous lifestyle.

Your physical therapist (PT) will also work with you to develop an exercise program that you can do to help prevent future problems with your spine. If you have had low back surgery, here is a step-by-step guide to what you may expect to do in physical therapy.

Recommended Exercises After Lumbar Laminectomy and Discectomy Surgery (1)

Note that before embarking on any exercise program, you'll need to get prior clearance from your healthcare provider to ensure that these moves are safe for you to do. Some surgeons may have restrictions on how much you can bend, lift, and twist for anywhere from two to six weeks after your surgery.

Postural Correction

After back surgery, you must work to maintain proper posture when you are sitting and standing.Postural control is essential as it keeps your low back in the optimal position to protect your healing lumbar discs and muscles.

Your physical therapist can teach you how to sit with proper posture by using a lumbar roll to maintain your spine in the best position.The slouch-overcorrect procedure can also help you maintain proper posture for your low back.

Attaining and maintaining proper posture for your low back is one of the most important things you can do to help protect your back and prevent future episodes of low-back pain.

Walking Exercise Program

Walking is one of the best exercises you can do after a lumbar laminectomy or discectomy surgery.Why?Because walking helps to improve blood flow throughout your body.This helps to bring in oxygen and nutrients to your spinal muscles and tissues as they heal.

Walking also helps to improve your cardiovascular health, keeping your heart and lungs functioning properly after lumbar surgery. The best thing about walking after back surgery is that it is an upright exercise—your spine will naturally be in a good position while you walk.This helps to protect your discs against future problems.

Starting a walking program after back surgery sounds easy; you just go out and walk, right? There may be more to it, so check in with your PT to help you set up a program tailored to your specific condition.

(Video) Top 7 Bed Exercises after Laminectomy/Discectomy (back surgery)

Prone Press Ups

One of the simplest, yet most effective, exercises to protect your back and lumbar discs after laminectomy is the prone press-up.This exercise compresses the back of your healing discs and helps to keep them situated in the proper place in your low back.It also helps to improve your ability to bend backinto lumbar extension.

To perform the exercise:

  1. Lie face down on a yoga mat on the floor and place both hands flat on the floor under your shoulders.
  2. Keep your back and your hips relaxed, and use your arms to press the upper part of your body up while allowing your lower back to remain against the floor.You should feel a slight pressure in your low back while pressing up.
  3. Hold the press-up position for 2 seconds, and then slowly lower back down to the starting position.
  4. Repeat the exercise for 10 to 15 repetitions.

Be sure to check in with your healthcare provider before starting this exercise to ensure it is safe for you to do after your lumbar laminectomy and discectomy surgery.

Prone Straight Leg Raise

One of your physical therapy goals after lumbar laminectomy and discectomy may be to improve the strength and stability of your low-back muscles.This can improve the support that the muscular system gives to your spine.

One great exercise to help improve your low-back strength is the prone straight leg raise (SLR) exercise.

To perform the exercise:

(Video) Low back surgery Physio rehab exercises

  1. Lie on your stomach (prone), tighten your abdominal muscles, and slowly lift one leg up in the air.
  2. Hold the straight leg up for 2 seconds, and then slowly lower it down.
  3. Repeat for 10 to 15 repetitions.

The prone SLR can be performed once or twice a day, but be sure to check in with your physical therapist before starting the exercise to ensure that it is safe for you to do.

Prone Straight Leg Raise

Sciatic Nerve Gliding

If you had leg pain coming from your back prior to surgery, you may have been diagnosed with sciatica, or an irritation of your sciatic nerve.After surgery, you may notice that your leg feels tight whenever youstraighten it out all the way.This may be a sign of an adhered sciatic nerve root, a common problem in people with sciatica.

After your lumbar laminectomy and discectomy surgery, your physical therapist may prescribe specific exercises, called sciatic nerve glides, to help stretch and improve the way your sciatic nerve moves in your back. This can help free the adhered nerve root and allow for normal motion to occur.

To perform sciatic nerve gliding:

  1. Lie on your back and bend one knee up.
  2. Grab underneath your knee with your hands, and then straighten your knee while supporting it with your hands.
  3. Once your knee is fully straightened, flex and extend your ankle about 5 times, and then return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat the sciatic nerve glide 10 times.

The exercise can be performed several times to help improve the way your sciatic nerve moves and glides in your low back and leg.

Supine Lumbar Flexion

After your low-back surgery, your physical therapist may prescribe gentle back flexion exercises.This can help safely stretch your low-back muscles. It can also be used to gently stretch the scar tissue in your low-back from the surgical incision.

Supine lumbar flexion is one of the simplest things to do to improve your lumbar flexion ROM after low back surgery. To perform the exercise:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  2. Slowly lift your bent knees up towards your chest, and grasp your knees with both hands.
  3. Gently pull your knees toward your chest, and hold the position for 1 or 2 seconds.
  4. Slowly lower your knees back down to the starting position.
  5. You can perform the supine lumbar flexion exercise for 10 repetitions.

Be sure to stop the exercise if you are experiencing an increase in pain in your low back, buttocks, or legs.

Supine Lumbar Flexion Exercise

(Video) Lumbar Laminectomy & Discectomy

Posterior Pelvic Tilt

After a lumbar laminectomy and discectomy, your physical therapist may prescribe exercises to help improve your abdominal strength. One exercise to start improving the way your abdominal and core muscles contract is the posterior pelvic tilt.

To perform the posterior pelvic tilt:

  1. Lie on your back with both knees bent.
  2. Slowly rock your pelvis backwardas if you are trying to flatten your low back into the floor.
  3. Tighten your abdominal muscles as you tilt your pelvis posteriorly, and hold the position for 2 seconds.
  4. Slowly release the pelvic tilt to return to the starting position.
  5. You can perform the posterior pelvic tilt for 10 to 15 repetitions.

This exercise can be difficult to properly perform, so be sure to check in with your PT before you start to avoid common errors that may make the exercise ineffective.

Hip and Core Strengthening

Once you have mastered the posterior pelvic tilt, you can progress your abdominal and core strengthening program. This involves performing specific motions for your hips and legs while maintaining the pelvic neutral position.

Advanced hip strengthening exercises may be started to help you gain strength and stability in the muscles that surround your pelvic area and low back.Your physical therapist can help you decide which exercises are best for your specific condition.

Advanced Hip Strengthening Exercises

Return-to-Work Activities

Once youhave gained improved lumbar range of motion, hip, and core strength, it may be time to start to work on specific activities to help you return to your previous level of work and recreation.

Depending on your work, you may need to work on proper lifting techniques, or you may require an ergonomic evaluation if you spend time sitting at a desk or a computer terminal.

Be sure to work closely with your healthcare provider and physical therapist before returning to work to ensure that it is safe for you to do and to be certain you are ready for normal work and recreational activities.

Low-back surgery, such as a lumbar laminectomy and discectomy, can be difficult to properly rehab.By working with your healthcare provider and physical therapist, you can be sure to improve your range of motion, strength, and functional mobility in order to return to your previous level of function quickly and safely.

Frequently Asked Questions

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FAQs

How do I strengthen my back after a laminectomy? ›

For a laminectomy diskectomy. Sure and you may want to have the guidance of your surgeon our

How do you strengthen your lower back after a discectomy? ›

Walking is encouraged as a way to get moving as soon as possible after microdiscectomy surgery. This type of exercise is gentle on the back, helps improve overall fitness, and keeps the muscles flexible. Typically, patients are advised to begin with short walks and gradually work up to a few miles.

How long does it take to heal from a laminectomy discectomy? ›

Recovery after a discectomy generally takes six to eight weeks, according to Theresa Marko, a New York City doctor of physical therapy with board certification in orthopaedic physical therapy. Bouncing back from laminectomy or fusion surgery, however, takes longer.

How long after laminectomy can you exercise? ›

People who have a minimally invasive decompression procedure generally need 4 weeks after their procedure before they can begin incorporating physical activity into their routine. For people who have a more complex open surgery, you may have to wait between 4 and 6 months after your procedure to safely exercise again.

What exercises can I do after laminectomy surgery? ›

  • Walking Exercise Program. Walking is one of the best exercises you can do after a lumbar laminectomy or discectomy surgery. ...
  • Prone Straight Leg Raise. One of your physical therapy goals after lumbar laminectomy and discectomy may be to improve the strength and stability of your low-back muscles. ...
  • Supine Lumbar Flexion.
24 Feb 2022

Are there permanent restrictions after a laminectomy? ›

Restrictions are gradually lifted over the course of subsequent follow-up visits. In many cases patients can return to all of their normal activities by 3 months, but some patients with multilevel decompression surgeries, heavy labor jobs or other unique situations may necessitate some sort of permanent restrictions.

Does a laminectomy weaken your spine? ›

Complications of Lumbar Laminectomy Surgery

A few potential complications of open lumbar laminectomy are: Neural tissue damage. Injury to the spinal cord's dura, cauda equina syndrome, nerve roots, and the formation of scar tissue may occur causing neural tissue damage in the lumbar spine.

What exercises not to do after back surgery? ›

Activity after a spinal fusion shouldn't include any heavy lifting, deadlifting, or anything else that might twist or bend your back too far. Most importantly, pay attention to what your body is telling you. If an activity feels painful, stop immediately and contact a specialist.

How long does it take nerves to heal after discectomy? ›

Just because a nerve is no longer compressed does not mean signals automatically travel again the way they did before surgery. There is related damage that needs time to heal, which typically happens within a 6–12-week period.

What should you not do after a laminectomy? ›

Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, until your doctor says it is okay. Do not drive for 2 to 4 weeks after your surgery or until your doctor says it is okay. Avoid riding in a car for more than 30 minutes at a time for 2 to 4 weeks after surgery.

What happens if you bend after laminectomy? ›

Putting undue stress on a bone that needs healing often exacerbates an injury. Apply that same concept to recovery from spinal surgeries. Avoid bending at all after a lumbar fusion if possible, as bending or twisting can interfere with the way the fusion heals and even damage the work that was done.

How do you wipe your bottom after back surgery? ›

While wiping, bend from the knees rather than at the hips. A long- handled device may help to reach all areas. 4. The use of pre-moistened, flushable wipes is strongly recommended.

How long after discectomy can I bend? ›

Restrictions on bending, lifting and twisting are common after lumbar discectomy, typically for six weeks.

How much walking should you do after laminectomy? ›

By day four, back at home, you should be walking for five full minutes, up to six times a day. Increase that to 10 minutes, three or four times a day, by week two, and up to 15 minutes by week three. By the sixth week following your surgery, you should be walking for 30 minutes twice a day.

When can I bend after a laminectomy? ›

Patients are instructed to avoid bending at the waist, lifting (more than five pounds), and twisting in the early postoperative period (first 2-4 weeks) to avoid a strain injury. Patients can gradually begin to bend, twist, and lift after 2 weeks as the pain subsides and the back muscles get stronger.

How long after back surgery can you bend over? ›

Once the surgeon confirms on x-ray imaging that the fusion has completely solidified into one bone, a full return to an active lifestyle—including bending, lifting, and twisting—is permitted. This approval typically occurs about 6 months after the surgery, but sometimes it may take closer to 12 months.

How long does leg pain last after laminectomy? ›

Sometimes this is a temporary condition as the nerve root or roots take time to heal. This can take days to weeks. If the pain is still there after 3 months, it is unlikely to improve on its own.

Is a laminectomy a disability? ›

If laminectomy or discectomy fails to relieve your symptoms, or causes complications, Social Security disability benefits may be available. Laminectomy and discectomy are surgical procedures that are often used to relieve spinal stenosis.

Can you climb stairs after a laminectomy? ›

You can go upstairs in the couple weeks following surgery, but it's best to limit stairs to once or twice a day in the first few weeks.

How many hours does a laminectomy surgery take? ›

How long is laminectomy surgery? The surgery usually takes around two hours but can take longer if it is part of a more complex procedure or if many levels need to be addressed.

Are muscles cut during laminectomy? ›

Next, the surgeon will perform the laminectomy: The surgeon will make an incision in the skin of your back over the affected area. The muscles and soft tissues around the spine will be pulled to the side, exposing the spine. The surgeon will then cut away bone, bone spurs, and ligaments that are compressing nerves.

Does the bone grow back after a laminectomy? ›

A laminectomy removes the entire lamina. Removal of the lamina allows more room for the nerves of the spine and reduces the irritation and inflammation of the spinal nerves. The lamina does not grow back. Instead, scar tissue grows over the bone, replacing the lamina, and protects the spinal nerves.

What protects spinal cord after laminectomy? ›

The large, powerful muscles of the back provide quite adequate protection for the nerves below. So your spinal nerves will remain safe and secure following laminectomy.

Do you need physical therapy after a laminectomy? ›

In general, you should expect to start physical therapy 4 to 6 weeks after your lumbar laminectomy or discectomy. If there were any post-operative complications like infection or excessive bleeding, then you may need to wait a bit longer.

How much should I walk after lumbar discectomy? ›

He suggests patients start the recovery process by walking short distances during the first couple weeks after surgery and then gradually build endurance until they can walk two miles to three miles a day. "Endoscopic microdiscectomy is the modern approach to repair of herniated discs," Dr.

What is the fastest way to recover from back surgery? ›

Back surgery recovery tips
  1. Create an exercise plan. ...
  2. Stop smoking. ...
  3. Fuel your body. ...
  4. Prepare your home. ...
  5. Find a caregiver. ...
  6. Walk often during your back surgery recovery. ...
  7. Be careful bathing and grooming. ...
  8. Follow basic mobility instructions.
5 Jan 2018

Does a discectomy weaken the back? ›

A limited discectomy approach leads to a higher risk of reherniation10 when compared to a more aggressive removal of disc. That said, an aggressive discectomy can deflate the disc, resulting in loss of disc height over time (disc collapse), ultimately causing stiffness, pain and instability.

What happens after l5 s1 discectomy? ›

You can expect your back to feel stiff or sore after surgery. This should improve in the weeks after surgery. You may have relief from your symptoms right away, or you may get better over days or weeks. In the weeks after your surgery, it may be hard to sit or stand in one position for very long.

Why do my hips hurt after discectomy? ›

With all the stress your body is going through after surgery, your iliopsoas muscles may tighten to try to support and protect the injured area. Unfortunately, the lower back and hip pain that often accompanies this protective act can be confusing and frustrating when it adds extra pain to your recovery.

What are the long term effects of a laminectomy? ›

Conventional laminectomy is the most common surgical approach for decompression of spinal stenosis, but it may cause fibro-muscular and bony structure damage leading to significant instability, which results in poor long-term prognosis.

What is the best exercise after back surgery? ›

The Safest Exercises Following Back Surgery
  • Abdominal Draw-In. Lie on your back, relax your arms by your side, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground. ...
  • Bridges. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet resting on the floor with your arms comfortably by your sides. ...
  • Planks.

Is it normal to have leg weakness after laminectomy? ›

Some patients who have lumbar decompression surgery will develop new numbness or weakness in one or both legs as a result of the operation. Paralysis is an uncommon, but serious, complication that can occur as a result of lumbar decompression surgery.

Can L5 S1 surgery success rate? ›

There was an overall 80% fusion rate for all patients who underwent anterior lumbar fusion at L5-S1. Average age was 34 years, with average length of disability from low-back pain of 11 months.

What is the difference between a laminectomy and a discectomy? ›

A laminectomy is a procedure to remove a greater portion of the bone (lamina) covering the roof of the spinal canal. A discectomy is a procedure to remove a portion of a herniated disc in the spine, which is bulging and pushing on a nerve.

Can you sit in a recliner after back surgery? ›

It is okay to sit while eating and for half an hour at a time. Recliners are better than soft-backed chairs. Do not lift more than 10 pounds for the first 4 weeks after surgery. It is okay to climb stairs.

Why do I have to wipe so many times when I poop? ›

Common causes include: Chronic diarrhea Constipation Hemorrhoids Crohn's disease The skin of the anus can stick to the stool and make it difficult to clean the anorectal area after a bowel movement. Leaky gut Leaky gut is also known as fecal incontinence. It happens when you have trouble having a bowel movement.

How do you sit in a car after back surgery? ›

Vehicle Transfer After Spine Surgery - YouTube

What kind of chair should you sit in after back surgery? ›

Recliner. Sitting on a recliner, with your legs raised and upper back propped up, may help ease some of your discomfort. If you do not have a recliner, you can create a similar effect using pillows underneath your legs and behind your back.

What are the long term effects of a laminectomy? ›

Conventional laminectomy is the most common surgical approach for decompression of spinal stenosis, but it may cause fibro-muscular and bony structure damage leading to significant instability, which results in poor long-term prognosis.

Do you need physical therapy after a laminectomy? ›

In general, you should expect to start physical therapy 4 to 6 weeks after your lumbar laminectomy or discectomy. If there were any post-operative complications like infection or excessive bleeding, then you may need to wait a bit longer.

How long does it take for back muscles to heal after surgery? ›

On average, back surgery recovery takes 12 weeks. However, it can take up to six months for your back to fully heal, depending on the correction.

Does a laminectomy weaken the back? ›

Complications of Lumbar Laminectomy Surgery

A few potential complications of open lumbar laminectomy are: Neural tissue damage. Injury to the spinal cord's dura, cauda equina syndrome, nerve roots, and the formation of scar tissue may occur causing neural tissue damage in the lumbar spine.

Does the bone grow back after a laminectomy? ›

A laminectomy removes the entire lamina. Removal of the lamina allows more room for the nerves of the spine and reduces the irritation and inflammation of the spinal nerves. The lamina does not grow back. Instead, scar tissue grows over the bone, replacing the lamina, and protects the spinal nerves.

Does a laminectomy destabilize the spine? ›

The lamina of the vertebra serves as the roof of the spinal canal. The laminotomy is used to decompress the spinal cord and nerves, without destabilizing the spine.

How long after back surgery can you bend over? ›

Don't forget about your restrictions for the first 6 weeks after surgery. You need to avoid twisting and bending. You also need to avoid lifting, pushing or pulling objects greater than 5 lbs. Lifting and activity restrictions will be gradually removed as the healing process takes place.

What exercises not to do after back surgery? ›

Activity after a spinal fusion shouldn't include any heavy lifting, deadlifting, or anything else that might twist or bend your back too far. Most importantly, pay attention to what your body is telling you. If an activity feels painful, stop immediately and contact a specialist.

How do you bend after discectomy? ›

Bending, Lifting, Twisting Restrictions after Back Surgery - YouTube

How long after laminectomy can you bend? ›

Your doctor may not advise a return to full activities involving lifting and bending for two to three months. You should start light walking for exercise and physical therapy exercises as soon as your doctor says you're ready.

How long does it take nerves to heal after discectomy? ›

Just because a nerve is no longer compressed does not mean signals automatically travel again the way they did before surgery. There is related damage that needs time to heal, which typically happens within a 6–12-week period.

Can you climb stairs after a laminectomy? ›

You can go upstairs in the couple weeks following surgery, but it's best to limit stairs to once or twice a day in the first few weeks.

How do you wipe after back surgery? ›

While wiping, bend from the knees rather than at the hips. A long- handled device may help to reach all areas. 4. The use of pre-moistened, flushable wipes is strongly recommended.

Can L5 S1 surgery success rate? ›

There was an overall 80% fusion rate for all patients who underwent anterior lumbar fusion at L5-S1. Average age was 34 years, with average length of disability from low-back pain of 11 months.

How long is recovery from L5 S1 surgery? ›

You'll be encouraged to walk and move around the day after surgery and it's likely you'll be discharged 1 to 4 days afterwards. It will take about 4 to 6 weeks for you to reach your expected level of mobility and function (this will depend on the severity of your condition and symptoms before the operation).

Videos

1. Spinal Post-Surgical Physical Therapy Stetches - Dr. Zeiller
(TucsonOrtho)
2. DISC "PIVD" Surgery : STARTING 4 WEEK Plan Bed Exercises after Laminectomy/Discectomy (back surgery)
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3. Core Exercises And Stretches After Spinal Fusion- And For Everyone!
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4. Core Exercises After Spinal Surgery - DON'T DO THESE EXERCISES
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5. Activity after Spine Surgery
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6. Laminectomy Recovery 12 Weeks Post Surgery
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