A lumbar disc herniation resulting in surgery may be an incisive event in a patient's everyday life. The patient's recovery after sequestrectomy may be influenced by several factors. There is evidence that regular physical activity can lower pain perception and improve the outcome after surgery. For this purpose, we hypothesized that patients performing regular sports prior to lumbar disc surgery might have less pain perception and disability thereafter. Fifty-two participants with a single lumbar disc herniation confirmed on MRI treated by a lumbar sequestrectomy were included in the trial. They were categorized into two groups based on their self-reported level of physical activity prior to surgery: group NS, no regular physical activity and group S, with regular physical activity. Further evaluation included a detailed medical history, a physical examination, and various questionnaires: Visual Analog Scale (VAS), Beck-Depression-Inventory (BDI), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), Core Outcome Measure Index (COMI), and the EuroQoL-5Dimension (EQ- 5D). Surgery had an excellent overall improvement of pain and disability (p < 0.005). The ODI, COMI, and EQ-5D differed 6 months after intervention (p < 0.05) favoring the sports group. Leg and back pain on VAS was also significantly less in group B than in group A, 12 months after surgery (p < 0.05). Preoperative regular physical activity is an important influencing factor for the overall satisfaction and disability after lumbar disc surgery. The importance of sports may have been underestimated for surgical outcomes.
Keywords: Disc herniation; Improvement after disc herniation; Lumbar sequestrectomy; Physical activity; Radiculopathy; Sports.