Exercises to Help Recovery After Degenerative Disc Disease Surgery

Your recovery after having degenerative disc disease surgery at Laser Spine Institute will rely on many factors, including how you exercise during the weeks following the procedure. Ideally, you should gradually work your way through easier, less strenuous exercises before you begin more intense activities. By gently pushing yourself, you can benefit from strengthening exercises without the issues that can arise by doing too much too quickly.

Exercises you might be advised to try

During your recovery from degenerative disc disease surgery, you should consult with your physician or physical therapist to determine the best course of action for your particular needs. However, to give you a general idea about the types of exercises you can expect, you’ll find a list of suggested activities below. They vary based on the part of the spine that was affected by degenerative disc disease, as well as by recovery stage. Some potential exercises include:

  • For the first few weeks following cervical (neck) surgery, you may perform abdominal bracing to gently strengthen your core; cervical flexion and extension to strengthen your neck; and cervical mobility rotation (turning your head to the side) to stretch and strengthen your neck.
  • For the next two or three weeks following cervical spine surgery, you may be advised to perform a variety of range-of-motion exercises that move your neck gently in all directions, as well as cervical isometrics, which use your own body to strengthen the muscles of your neck.
  • If you have lumbar spine surgery for degenerative disc disease, then for the first few weeks of recovery, you may be advised to perform abdominal bracing, shoulder presses to foster upper back strength and gluteal sets to build the muscles in your buttocks.
  • For the following two to three weeks following lumbar surgery, your physician or therapist may recommend that you perform supine sciatic/tibial glides to stretch your ankles and hamstrings, bridging exercises to improve spinal strength and flexibility, and hook-lying exercises to build muscles essential to supporting the spine.

Use extreme care as your body heals

No matter what your physician or physical therapist recommends, always remember to listen to your body because pain can indicate that you’re pushing yourself too hard. Avoid injury by noting if a movement seems painful and waiting until a later date to try it again. Also contact your Care Team at Laser Spine Institute if you have questions about the exercises you’ve been prescribed following your surgery.