Daniel K. Park, MD

Meet Dr. Park

Read More

Many patients ask me when will I start physical therapy after surgery?

Many patients ask me when will I start physical therapy after surgery?

I typically start PT after a lumbar fusion 3 months after surgery. My rationale being that for the first 3 months I just want you to walk and not focus on strengthening. When patients occasionally asked for "supportive" evidence for this, I did not have evidence until a recent paper in Spine Journal found worse clinical outcomes and more expensive treatment if therapy started earlier.

I typically start PT after a lumbar fusion 3 months after surgery. My rationale being that for the first 3 months I just want you to walk and not focus on strengthening. When patients occasionally asked for "supportive" evidence for this, I did not have evidence until a recent paper in Spine Journal found worse clinical outcomes and more expensive treatment if therapy started earlier.

Therefore, unless you need PT to help walk, the typical regimen for PT after surgery are as follows
  • lumbar discectomy/laminectomy (removing disc or bone spurs WITHOUT a fusion) 6 weeks
  • anterior neck surgery 3 months
  • back fusion 3 months

(please read the following article if interested. This is the study showing earlier therapy is more expensive and less effective than starting it at 3 months)