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What does sitting after a microdiscectomy feel like?

DHDDH Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:00 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello I've just joined Spine Health, although I've been looking at it for over a year for information about various treatments for my back problem; I've found some really useful information for which I'm really grateful.

Just to give you a bit of background- I'm a 27 year old woman from the UK and I've had a large l5/s1 disc herniation for well over a year. I've got pretty bad sciatica in both legs, back pain, transient numbness in both feet and the back of my legs, a very weak left leg/ foot, difficulty walking and lots of clicking and movement in my back. I've tried all sorts of tablets (currently on Omeprazole, Pregabalin, Tramadol and Naproxen), TENS machines, have tried selective nerve root blocks and alternative treatments. I've now been scheduled for a microdiscectomy on 27/02/2012 in the hope that I'll get some quality of life back and a reduction in pain, although I've been told that that might not happen for 18 months after the surgery.

In an attempt to try to prepare myself for how I might feel I thought this would be the best place to ask about others' experiences. I've read a lot at various places online that sitting is bad after a microdiscectomy, although no one has said specifically how it feels; I've also seen that sitting for a maximum of 20 minutes is recommended. I wondered what people's experiences of pain after sitting was and how you got around this- is this pain focussed in the back from weak back muscles or an unstable feeling back, or is it sciatic pain (or all of these!)?

I'm just trying to mentally prepare myself for the operation and roughly what I might expect as I've never had any sort of operation before!

Thank you very much for any responses, I'm really keen to hear other people's stories and experiences.

Thank you,


  • The reason they don't want you to sit is because it puts additional stress on the back. Sitting is bad in general b/c the lower back already carries most of the body's load and sitting just puts additional stress on the lower spine. So sitting will put unnecessary pressure on your lower spine.

    So for about 2-4 weeks after surgery, I saved sitting for meals (about 10-15 mins no more than 3 times/day).

    Walking is good for you b/c it keeps scar tissue from adhering to the nerves BUT talk to your doctor b/c when they say walking is good, you still don't want to over-do it.

    I also found it's good to avoid a recliner b/c it really doesn't provide enough support for your back.

    Not sure how your doctor will approach it but I've had to Microdiscectomies. I stayed overnight both times. I had a 2-week post op and then a 6-week post op. At the 6-week mark, I was sent to PT. At PT I learned some good/safe stretches and exercises to build my core muscles back up.

    Everyone's experience is different.
    My back surgery was my 1st also.
    - Ask the doctor what to expect - best and worst case
    - They will teach you how to 'log roll' to get out of bed, etc.
    - Most likely they will have you up and out of bed a few hours after surgery. Unless you have complications (spinal fluid leak).
    - They will give you instructions when you are released.
    - They should tell you not to drive until they see you at the 2-week post op and maybe longer. Try to avoid the car as much as possible b/c it jostles you. I tried to not even be a passenger in the car for 2 weeks post op and then limited for the next 4-weeks (this was me b/c my doctor just said, to be careful).
    - Recovery is different for everyone. I believe this b/c it was very different with each of the 2 surgeries I had. The first one, I felt like I got hit across the lower back BUT I felt good aside from that. The 2nd one, I had no surgical pain but was very nauseous for about 48 hours.

    Ask lots of questions just so you know what could happen. Get help for after the surgery as you will not be able to bend, twist, life for quite some time. You will be able to be up and around but you'll be tired so you won't want to have to cook dinner or stand for too long at a clip. I was tired for 2-weeks after and then I got energy back but of course got tired as I increased my activity.

    Mostly - get books to read or movies to watch. And, try not to get upset if you are really tired afterward. Back surgery isn't like other surgeries. It is a big deal and you have to be careful not to do too much too quickly even if you are feeling good.

    Best wishes!
  • I had a discectomy & laminectomy last month, not a discectomy (which I understand is less invasive). I had pain after the procedure but the medication kept it in control. Sitting in an upright position was limited (about 30 minutes a day) in the first week after surgery. A cushy recliner really helps if you have one. Partially reclining like that helps keep the pressure off your back. If you're lying on your back, have a pillow under your knees.

    Your doctor or doctor's office should be able to step through everything with you.

    Be very aware of your back, and what helps it feel better. If you overdo or don't follow instructions you will definitely feel it.

    Take care,

    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
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