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ISO post-discectomy thoughts & suggestions

ibivyiibivy Posts: 28
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello everyone. I had surgery (microdiscectomy/hemilaminectomy at L4/5) about 2 1/2 months ago. The surgery itself went very well and I was able to spend the summer recovering, doing physical therapy, and reducing my medication needs.

However, I'm back in grad school now and the stress of sitting and studying constantly are causing the 'old pain' to flare up. I expected this, seeing as I spent the whole summer taking it easy and following my doctor & PT's orders to a T, but of course it's a bit disappointing and frustrating to be back at the pain meds and have difficulty getting through a day.

I would love to hear your...
*thoughts on how long it took to feel recovered (or if you ever did)
*thoughts on ways that any students have managed to study/get papers done/etc. (as in: are there any contraptions out there that can prop computers and books above you while you lay on the floor so that you can work w/o sitting or standing?)
*I am able to stand during my classes when I need to, but what about you- how did/do you manage sitting, class time, the carrying of the few class-related items you need?

For the most part: I feel the recovery was going well but understandably slow. But now that I've hit the scholastic wall, I'm starting to flounder and need to reach out.


  • I haven't had any surgeries but as a student and thinking about surgery I definitely know how you feel. I usually lay on my back and put my knees up to lean my laptop against them and then put a thin pillow under my head so I can see my fingers and type. Hope that helps a little! :) and good luck!
  • What are your primary symptoms now? I gather you still have pain when standing...how about when walking? Is it painful to sit from the beginning or does it begin to hurt after you've been sitting awhile.

    Have you consulted with your surgeon recently? It seems like you shouldn't be in as much pain as you indicate.

    I have L4-5 problems too so can understand the pain. Have you tried one of those ergonomic kneeling chairs? There are many designs available on the net. I would think that would work while working at your computer, reading, writing papers, etc. It would take the pressure off your lumbar spine. I do not have one but it seems like it might work.

    I am a docent at our art museum. We have weekly lectures that last two hours. I have to sit in the back on the aisle, and I have to go between sitting and standing in order to make it through the two hours. But I cannot give tours any longer as I cannot walk on the marble floors without my spine going into spasms.

    What I would advise you is to find a way to lie down on the floor periodically during your day. It will help to let the discs unload for five or ten minutes. Just lie flat on your back, knees bent, feet flat on floor...arms close to your sides, palms facing up. Breathe slowly from the belly -- five minutes is all it takes. Also, be sure to get up and walk around a bit every hour when studying.

    Carry as little as possible -- in a backpack well-centered over your back. Figure out a way to keep your books at school, or whatever you can do so you aren't carrying anything heavier than about 5-8 pounds.

    Never carry a purse or anything else on one side of your body. Keep any weight centered. Drink LOTS of water. This is very important to your recovery and to the health of your discs. When you are sitting, be very aware of your posture. Never cross your legs or sit in a way that puts more weight on one side of the body. This goes with standing, too. Keep weight equally centered between the feet; be sure feet are pointing straight ahead -- no "turning out" or leaning on one hip. Think of yourself as a series of building blocks that must be kept aligned. Begin always with the feet, and organize from the feet up to the head. Be sure your head is not in a forward position.

    Hope one of these ideas will help! I would go back to your surgeon though if you continue to have pain. I would think three months out you should be feeling better.

    Good luck.

  • As an alternative to the backpack, there are wheeled book bags. You pull them along behind you. Much better than a backpack.

    I have seen different versions of this device available:

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Paul! I LOVE that contraption. As is, I simply prop a TV tray on pillows and try to angle it to use my laptop. I'll have to find that.

    And yep- I'm all about my cheezy wheeled book bag :-)
  • If you are sitting properly in class (lumbar roll, feet flat, thighs NOT higher than hips) than sitting is just like standing in regards to your back.

    Never lean forward while sitting,...that is the worst thing you can do while sitting.

    My discectomy didn't help me. It ultimately made it worse. I had to seek further treatment. Everyone's situation is different.
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