The Effect of Progressive Muscle Relaxation Exercises on Pain and Disability After Spinal Surgery

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    Istanbul Medeniyet University
Updated on 30 March 2023


This study was planned as a randomized controlled experimental study to determine the effect of progressive muscle relaxation exercises on pain and disability in patients undergoing spinal surgery.


Low back pain is not a disease in itself, but a symptom with many causes. The term "low back pain" means pain felt close to the midline of the lumbar or sacral region. It is a common problem in the society that causes loss of workforce and is accepted as a common cause of disability (functional limitation). Vertebral compression fractures, degenerative joint disease, spinal stenosis and various mechanical disorders are among the causes of low back pain. Although due to other pathologies, the general opinion is that lumbar disc prolapses often suppress or irritate one or more nerve roots in the lumbosacral region, causing pain that radiates to certain areas of the hips or legs. This pain is defined as lumbosacral radiculopathy. Although lumbosacral radiculopathy is treated conservatively in many patients, surgery is a common option in patients with persistent symptoms. The aim of surgical treatment methods such as discectomy, laminectomy, foraminotomy and spinal fusion is to release the neural structures by removing the herniated disc that compresses the nerve root and dura. Although there are various outcomes to measure the success of treatment after lumbar disc surgery, reduction of pain and returning to normal activities remain the main goals for patients. In the studies performed, it was determined that almost every patient had low back and leg pain, low quality of life scores and high disability scores before the surgery, while it was determined that there was an improvement in pain and other areas after the surgery. However, in the literature, complete relief after surgery is rarely seen, and symptoms persist in patients; It is stated that the severity varies from minor and non-irritating to severe and debilitating. Persistent and recurrent radicular pain after lumbar surgery is often associated with compression of the nerve roots. Zanoli et al. (2001) found that after surgical interventions for degenerative lumbar spine diseases, tolerable pain continued in the same way or increased in the 4th and 12th months postoperatively. Häkkinen et al. (2004) found that although there was improvement in postoperative back and leg pain, 25% of the patients still had moderate or severe leg pain at the 2nd month postoperatively, and approximately 30% perceived moderate or severe disability. Similarly, Lee et al. (2017) also found that although there was an improvement in the level of pain after surgery, the pain continued at a moderate level in the 3rd, 6th and 12th months. Continuing pain, motor deficits and decreased functional capacity after lumbar disc surgery may also cause loss of work force. In a study on the subject, it was determined that 80% of the patients re-reported due to pain or retired early after a 2-month routine health report after lumbar disc surgery. Controlling pain is important in terms of relaxation of the individual, increasing the quality of life, reducing complications and shortening the length of hospital stay. Pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods are used in the control of pain. One of the non-pharmacological methods is "relaxation". Passive relaxation, biofeedback, autogenic relaxation, basic breathing exercises, and progressive relaxation exercises (PRE) are among the relaxation techniques that require the active participation of the individual. Relaxation therapy has recently become an integral part of the care of individuals with chronic diseases due to its benefits such as reducing anxiety and stress, distracting attention from pain, relieving muscle tension and contractions, facilitating sleep, reducing fatigue and sensitivity to pain. With relaxation therapy, individuals can notice the tensions in their bodies, control their muscles, and learn to relax and relax tense parts of the body. One of the simplest and easiest to learn relaxation techniques is progressive relaxation exercises. These exercises are a series of procedures involving deep breathing and stretching and relaxation cycles in 50 different muscle groups to increase awareness of muscle tension in the body and learn to release these muscles. The technique promotes the systematic relaxation of the main muscle groups of the body for the purpose of physical and mental relaxation, reduction of response to stress, reduction of skeletal muscle contractions and the sensation of pain. In the literature, there are many studies related to progressive relaxation exercises and pain in different patient groups. In studies on musculoskeletal pain, it has been shown that progressive relaxation exercises significantly reduce the pain of patients with chronic neck pain (Lauche et al. 2013), and have a significant effect on pain, stress and disability levels in patients with chronic low back pain. In a systematic review study, it is stated that PRE is effective in reducing chronic low back pain and improving functional status. No study has been found examining the effect of PRE on postoperative pain and disability in patients undergoing lumbar surgery.

Condition Spinal Stenosis Lumbar
Treatment Progressive Muscle Relaxation Exercises
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05253326
SponsorIstanbul Medeniyet University
Last Modified on30 March 2023

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