Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

High recurrence of back and leg symptoms found after lumbar disc surgery

February 18, 2018


Previous research has shown an improvement and regression of lumbar disc injuries with conservative treatments including Physical Therapy.  Based on clinical practice guidelines and the available evidence, few patients with back and leg pain require surgical interventions for a lumbar disc injury.  Many who pursue surgical intervention seek relief of their associated leg symptoms, but until now it was not known how many of these patients either find relief of their pain or experience recurrent leg symptoms.

An article in the journal Spine examined patients who underwent lumbar disc surgery to determine their rates of pain resolution or pain recurrence at both 1 and 3 year follow ups (Suri et al. 2017).   The authors reported a significant risk of leg pain recurrence among the surgically treated patients with a 20% and 45% risk of leg pain recurrence at 1 and 3 year follow up, respectively.  Patient’s who reported initial resolution of leg pain symptoms after surgery demonstrated significantly less symptoms than those who did not have resolution of their pain.  The authors concluded recurrence of both leg and back pain is common after discectomy.

For the majority of patients with back and leg pain, conservative treatments such as Physical Therapy should be utilized before surgical consultation. 

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