Physical Therapy after a Microscopic Discectomy

Physical therapy is an incredibly important element after any surgical procedure. Properly reacquainting a damaged area with its previous function is essential in regaining prior range of motion.

After a microscopic discectomy, physical therapy is crucial for patients to gain increased flexibility and strength in their stabilizer muscles. These muscles help us properly move, walk, and go about our daily lives. Without physical therapy, you may not fully recover and gain the range of movement you desire.

Beginning Physical Therapy

Physical therapy has many different components. Some portions of physical therapy can begin in a matter of one to two weeks post-op, and they include passive movement, meaning somebody is physically assisting the body in moving through a range of motion or activity. In the case of a shoulder surgery, for example, it might be very difficult for a patient to lift their arm even in post-op. Physical therapy could begin with the therapist using their own force and energy to lift the patient’s arm and move it through a series of activities.

In a lumbar surgery, low back surgery, or neck surgery, therapists try to replicate a normal range of motion. In the low back, that would typically be bending and twisting, and in the neck, it would be moving the neck in certain directions. That is the basis of therapy; it will start minimally and grow over time.

Length of Therapy

Physical therapy will last as long as necessary and will be performed in stages. However, it is difficult f to begin physical therapy if you are still in severe pain. As you recover, you will probably be in therapy between several weeks to a couple of months. When you are ready, you’ll receive home exercises to continue your treatment, and you would no longer need a therapist.

Exercises After a Microscopic Discectomy

Usually, patients who are recovering from a microscopic discectomy can benefit from increased strength and flexibility in their stabilizer muscles. But you would not want to do weight bearing exercises like squats or something like that if you had lumbar surgery, or any severe bending under a tremendous amount of weight. Stick to non-weight bearing exercise that slowly improves your range of motion, following the recommendations of your physical therapist.

The exercises performed always depend on how complex or simple the surgery was. Although the workload and the duration of exercise will change as time goes on and you build up strength, it is common prior to surgery to be weak in the area where surgery is going to occur. So, take it slow so you do not impact the repairs you’ve just had fixed.