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Microdiscectomy recovery questions

granadillaggranadilla Posts: 33
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:00 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had a microdiscectomy 4 weeks ago and I'm curious about how long it took other microdiscectomy peeps to do the following:

--When were you allowed to sit for more than 30 minutes? When were you comfortable sitting for longer than 30 mins?

--When were you allowed to start bending and twisting?

--When did all of your surgical pain go away?

--When were you comfortable walking for more than 30 minutes?

Thanks, I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone says!


  • It varies from person to person.
    It actually varied between my 2 surgeries.
    I needed a revision.

    I'll share my experience mostly from the 2nd surgery.

    Sitting - per Doctor
    Surgery 1 - didn't get that much direction, wish I had gotten more but in general I knew to limit sitting to 10 mins at a time.
    Surgery 2 - was told to leave sitting to meal time so in general kept it to 30-50 mins total for the day for the first 4-6 weeks (about 10 min per meal)

    Sitting - Per my comfort
    Surgery 2 - I'd say it was a slow process b/c I was being careful. I went back to work and purposes drank water to get up and walk around every 30-35 mins; Over time, I noticed if I didn't do that, I would actually sit for an hour before I hurt. And, if I have to, I can sit for 2 hours but because it's not good for anyone, I do tend to be very aware and get fidgety after about an hour and 15 mins.

    Bending/Twisting - hmm, after my 6 week post op, I started PT. I would say this is where they started to build up my body mechanics safely again and introduced some 'safe' ways to twist via the exercises to build my core muscles. Even to this day, I'm very aware of my bending/twisting/lifting. I'm 2 years out. It's not that I don't do these things but I'm very aware of how I do them, how frequently, and how I feel afterward. I am much more willing to accept help to ensure I keep myself safe.

    Surgical Pain
    Surgery 1 - first 2 weeks were really strong like someone hit me across the back with a stick and then a ton of muscle tension in my upper back. I won't go further b/c I just had lots of issues since the first surgery didn't work
    Surgery 2 - very different experience. They used special nerve monitors and oddly, I didn't really have too much general surgical pain other than the incision. But the incision was tender for about 6 weeks and then by 3 months, I honestly felt nothing near the incision.

    But surgical pain is tough to measure - you get very tired from back surgery and often you are tired and may be sore in other areas. Also, you may feel tender but it's not always from surgery but rather scar tissue still forming.

    This one is interesting. I had a limp when I ruptured my disc. So after 2 surgeries, you can only imagine that I had lost a lost a lot of strength, had a limp, and was still tired. I would say by month 3 I could walk 2-3 miles. I was no speed walker but I could do it. I was also tired afterward but did it.

    I'm 2 years out and can walk 7 miles at once (2 hours) but I do stop along the way to stretch a little.

    Good luck! Sounds like you were given all the right instructions. Recovery is slow and it's not a race. Back surgery is not like other surgeries. You don't want to push it too quickly which many tend to do when they start feeling good.

    Remember 'slow and steady wins the race'.

  • Thanks for the feedback. My surgical pain is more like your first surgery -- I felt like I got hit by a bat for the first week. Now it's just sore if I do too much. I'm trying to be patient and to be careful (especially with not doing too much BLT). I was on bed rest for a couple of weeks because of a possible spinal fluid leak. That kept me from doing too much, but now that I'm allowed to be up I'm just so excited to be up and to be semi-normal that I'm afraid I'm doing too much!

    The thing that has surprised the most about this recovery is how TIRED I am. I'm still sleeping 10-11 hours at night, and I'm 4 weeks post-op! I have no idea how people go back to work after just 2 weeks.

    I'm going back to work next Thursday, which will be 5 weeks post-op for me. I'm worried about the drive. I live in Los Angeles where the traffic is always bad. I'm going back for half days so I'll miss rush hour, but it will still take me 45 minutes to get there. My desk at work raises up so I can alternate sitting and standing when I get there. I'll take pillows and an ice pack for the drive and hopefully it won't be too bad.

    My surgeon and my physical therapist told me I can start making my walks a little longer (I've only gone a few blocks since surgery) so I'm looking forward to trying that this weekend.
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