Study design: A prospective, randomized, and controlled study was conducted.
Objectives: To evaluate two training programs, both of which started immediately after lumbar discectomy.
Summary of background data: In previous studies, patients began physiotherapy between 4 weeks and 60 months after surgery. No studies have been conducted to evaluate a physiotherapy program that begins immediately after surgery.
Method: Twenty-six patients were treated according to an early active training program. Twenty-six patients were treated with a traditional, less active training program (control group). All patients were examined immediately before and after surgery and 3, 6, 12, and 52 weeks after surgery by an unbiased observer. Two years after surgery, patients completed a questionnaire. Range of motion of the lumbar spine and straight leg raising were measured. pain intensity and location was measured by a visual analog scale. The duration of sick leave was documented.
Results: Six and 12 weeks after surgery, patients with dominating residual leg pain had significantly less intense pain in the early active training group than those in the control group (P < 0.05). Twelve weeks after surgery, range of motion of the lumbar spine was significantly more increased in the early active training group (P < 0.01). One year after surgery, there was no significant difference between the groups regarding the duration of sick leave, results in a positive straight leg raising, or pain intensity. Twenty-two (88%) patients in the early active training group and 16 (67%) in the control group were satisfied with the treatment outcome 2 years after surgery (P < 0.10).
Conclusions: Patients rehabilitated according to the early active training program had a better short-term outcome of objective values. At 2 years' follow-up, more patients were satisfied with the result of the operation. The early active treatment program is recommended.