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traveling post op

kk3kkk3 Posts: 9
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had a L5S1 microdiscectomy 10 days ago. I would like to travel 3 hours by car at the end of the month which would make me 3 weeks post op. Is this wise? I am a liitle reluctant to sit that long.Anyone have advise re this??


  • KK3...I would contact your doctor.
    Personally, I don't think it's wise but a lot depends on how you feel and your doctor's advice.

    I would not drive myself.
    If s/he clears you, I would say you have to stop every 30 mins and walk around the car a few times. I would also ask how long are you 'staying' at the place before taking the 3 hour drive back home?

    I want to drive 2.5 hours 1 month (4.5 weeks)post op and know it won't be wise even if I am a passenger and can lie flat. I don't want to risk jostling my disc before it is healed but I'm on a revision surgery so my success rate % is lower than yours.

    Again, I think the best advice is to speak to your doctor. I assume you have a 2-week post-op appointment coming up...you can ask there.
  • If you are already thinking along the lines of "is this a wise thing to do?" you are learning your lessons as a new spiney well. Often it is not "can I do this?" but, is this the smart thing to do?

    I agree that it is not just the car ride but what you will be doing after you arrive at your destination. Will there be an opportunity to lie down so you can unload the discs for a short period of time? It would not be wise to go to a play or movie and sit still for three hours. You should not be sitting anywhere for more than 20-30 minutes until you are pretty much completely healed.

    Riding in cars seems like a benign activity until you've had back surgery. Even as a passenger it is hard on the back. You will realize how much the body really gets moved around as the car takes corners, speeds up, slows down, hits bumps, and god forbid, swerves or slams on the brakes. All the muscles in the torso, back and pelvic girdle tense up to hold the torso upright. If you were perfectly relaxed, you'd be tossed around like a rag doll with the natural movements of the road and of driving. So, the question remains, how much of this do you want to subjet yourself to?

    If you decide to go, break up the trip in half hour intervals, get out to walk and stretch. And then follow through when you get to your destination. Keep to the 30 minute rule. Also, select an appropriate chair that will not harm your back. Maintain good posture and body mechanics at all times. Also, drink lots of water so you do not become dehydrated.

    Most doctors never let on how easy it is to reherniate a disc or cause a problem with inflammation during the "healing" period. It really is up to the patient to make good decisions.
  • kk3, good morning to ya! For what it's worth, here's my experience. I underwent a one level lumbar fusion on Nov 10 '09. I told my neurosurgeon that I'd like to go to my family's home (like you, about 3 hours away)around Christmas time. He said he thought it'd be OK as long as I used common sense about it.

    So I went. I did get out of the car a few times and walk around during the trip. Plus, I have to wear a full rigid brace and I think that helped keep some of the road shock away from me.

    Long story short, I stayed at my mom's for a couple days and then came home. No problems to report. Check with your doc, get out of the car frequently and like my doctor says, "Use common sense."

    Travel safe,
  • Thanks all, I will be staying overnight at the destination and will check with my family doc on Wednesday.I really want to go as my son has a volleyball tournment there. He is only 16 so I don't want him going the trip alone.however I am so afraid to reherniate :0
  • I don't mean to be cynical, but what will your family doctor really know about this? Will you be going to the game? Sitting on bleachers? Sleeping on an unknown mattress?

    Wouldn't you rather discuss this with your surgeon who knows the quality of your herniated disc??
  • My family doc cleared me to travel.I reclined the seat back with a pillow behind my back and took a pile of advil.Also stopped about every 30 min to walk and all went well.I even took in the games (standing mostly).There was alot of walking involved which actually made me feel better but I was TIRED.Anyway well worth the trip!
    I am now trying to walk more as I see the difference it makes.Spent 30 min straight on the treadmill yesterday...first time to walk so long in 4 years. This mornining I have a little more leg pain and hoping it is just muscular.Any guidelines as to how far is too far??
  • Hi there KK3...glad you were cleared for the trip and sounds like you took all the advice seriously which probably helped a ton.

    You may find you are a bit more tired and sore than normal for 2-3 days but that's understandable.

    As for walking...I don't have advice. I found that I don't go higher than 30 mins at a time but that works for me. I'm also on a tread mill too due to weather but try to get out once/day now with my husband for about 10 mins to walk on 'real' surfaces.

    I am doing 3 miles/day broken into 20min chunks and it's working for me. But yesterday, I hurt (i actually think I was stressed about something), and noticed at 3pm my back was extremely tense and my legs hurt. I took a tylenol and a valium and decided to cut the next 2 walks to 10 mins and not do my last walk of the night.

    I guess...listen to your body. More frequent walks is supposedly better than 1 or 2 big walks.
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