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Returning to work and Driving

andrewpaandrewp Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:00 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Hi all. To be honest i'm not sure if i'm worried for a lot of people on here or for myself. I had open laminectomy and discectomy (l4-5 l5-s1) on 25th january this year. before surgery the combination of my back pain and sciatica was so severe that i could not walk without relying on props. It has been a month now and I find that I am capable of a 15-20 minute walk but feel utterly exhausted afterwards and whilst my leg pain has gone and I feel the op was a complete success, standing or sitting upright for more than 20-30 minutes is very difficult, which translates to me being concerned about getting back to work (desk job 10hr shifts 4on 4off)
I had my first post op physio session 3 days ago and they advised me that they are happy with my progression and i'm pretty much where they'd hope for me to be at this stage.
It frustrates me to see so many comments on here saying that people are getting back to work after 10-12 days :-(

From the outset of the sciatica back in jan 2011 i have had to spend 8 and a half months off work (had to wait for surgery from july) and just want to get back.
Comments from everyone with something to say appreciated :-)


  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    You know, you're really early out from major spine surgery and what you're experiencing is very normal this soon afterwards. In fact, it sounds like you're doing great, considering.

    I had a 1-lvl TLIF and it took at least 3 months before I felt like I could even function decently. Those first few months were very difficult and it was great once I realized my pain was from the surgery, not from the what I had going on previously.

    Back to work after 10-12 days? That's just not reasonable at all. I don't think that many people here will tell you they feel good enough to go back to work that soon, unless they've had a microdiscectomy, then it's possible. Do you have to go back to work soon - you don't mention when it's planned?

    I'm glad you're feeling that your surgery was a success, but keep in mind that it really takes time to recover (they say 6 months to feel decent and a year to feel back to normal). Try to measure your recovery in weeks not days.

    I hope your recovery continues to do well and you can take more time to rest and work up to walking more - that's the best post-op exercise, but only as much as you can. I know recovery gets boring, but if you overdo, you'll set yourself back and have to take a whole day to do nothing but rest.

    Take care and keep us posted, ok?
  • Hello Andrew,
    First of all well done you 8 months in a long time to wait in pain, I waited 14 months and many years attempting to get back to work so understand your frustration. It is difficult not to compare and contrast, you say your physio is pleased with your progress, setting unrealistic targets is a recipe for increased frustration, disappointment and perhaps depression if not re-evaluated.

    You are going to have to prioritise your requirements, even if you rest all the time, when do you realistically think a 10hr shift is possible. That 20 min walk is too far and used all you energy, I am like a battery with defined energy every day, I have had to give up many things to be able to function at all, do everything that makes the pain less and nothing to make it worse, that 30 min sitting will improve over time.

    As Cath said, going back too soon will mean a longer recovery, your progress relates to you, that pace of improvement will quicken, returning to work is a big step and commitment one that we expect ourselves to achieve, take your time, ask the people who know you how much you have improved.

    Take care, do something new every day and be kind to yourself. Look where you started you have improved tremendously and should be proud of your achievements.

  • I had the exact same surgery on January 31st. I am very lucky because I have a job where I can tele-commute. Just this week I went into the office for the first time, but have been working since the day after the surgery from home. Hard to make it through the day, but I am getting better at it.

    Everyone is different, but for me being able to go to work is a big plus as I hate sitting around at home. But at home I can spend most of my day in my bean bag chair with my laptop and phone and not put any pressure on my spine.

    The key is to not re-injure yourself. That won't help you or your employer.
  • Thank u all. i feel in a bit of a fix. ive had to be off work now so long that im no longer getting paid (although my job remains open for me to return to)
    So basically my family needs me to return asap, whilst i accept that making that step too early could potentially be the worst thing i can do :-(
    i think its likely that the comments i'd read were after micro.

    Progress....none really since the initial post. i have been having restless nights and been getting up in the morning super sore...i cant win lol.

    Hey tree, do you find a beanbag that good? it sounds like a great idea

    a bit ambitious maybe but ive set myself what im hoping is a realistic target - to climb pen-y-fan by the end of the summer and to complete my first triathlon by the end of next summer :-).
    (for the many of you who will be unaware, pen-y-fan is the highest peak in south wales where i live)

    all in all though, if i fail to meet my targets thats fine as long as i continue to improve and i continue to work towards them :-)

    thanks for reading :-)
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