Effectiveness of a 12-month home-based exercise program on trunk muscle strength and spine function after lumbar spine fusion surgery: a randomized controlled trial

Outi Ilves, Marko H. Neva, Keijo Häkkinen, Joost Dekker, Salme Järvenpää, Kati Kyrölä, Arja Häkkinen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The effectiveness of a 12-month home-exercise program on trunk muscle strength after lumbar spine fusion surgery was evaluated. Materials and methods: Three months postoperatively, 98 patients were randomized either to the exercise group (EG), with a progressive 12-month home-based exercise program, or to usual care group (UCG), with one guidance session for light home-exercises. Maximal trunk muscle strength was measured by a strain-gauge dynamometer and trunk extensor endurance was measured by Biering-Sørensen’s test at baseline and after the intervention. Results: The mean change in extension strength during the intervention was 75 N in EG and 58 N in UCG. Flexion strength improved 50 N in UCG and 45 N in EG. Trunk extension/flexion strength ratio changed from 0.90 to 1.02 in EG and from 0.98 to 1.00 in UCG. In EG, Biering-Sørensen’s test improved by 17 s, and in UCG, it improved by 24 s. No statistically significant between-group differences were found in any variables. Median exercise frequency in EG decreased from 2.5×/week during the first two intervention months to 1.7×/week during the last two intervention months. Conclusions: Twelve-month progressive exercise program was equally effective as usual care in improving trunk muscle strength. Home exercise adherence decreased, which may have influenced the strength changes.Implications for rehabilitation The 12-month home-based exercise program was equally as effective as usual care after lumbar spine fusion (LSF) in improving trunk muscle strength, however, the back-specific exercises led to better trunk muscle strength balance in exercise group only. The adherence to the home based exercise program is a challenge; therefore, different techniques could be implemented to provide purposeful support for each individual in their long-term exercising. It is important to recognize those who need more individualized rehabilitation in recovery of the spine function, while others may manage with subtle intervention after LSF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-557
Number of pages9
JournalDisability and rehabilitation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Lumbar spine fusion
  • exercise
  • muscle strength
  • physiotherapy
  • rehabilitation
  • spine surgery
  • spondylolisthesis

Cite this