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Driving Post L4/L5 Microdiscectomy

I had an L4/L5 right side microdiscectomy on Feb. 10, 2014.

I went for a short drive a few days ago and ended up with more numbness in my right lower leg and foot. I have a somewhat low car that is difficult to get in and out of while keeping my back straight. I sit in a more reclined position and my knees are quite bent. I used a lumbar support pillow which I thought was helping. Prior to surgery driving was one of the most painful things I had to do.

What has helped other post microdiscectomy patients here to drive? Have you had to change to a different type of car that's easier to get in and out of? Special cushions or positions?

Thanks
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Comments

  • Noel JamesNNoel James Posts: 16
    edited 03/06/2014 - 5:19 AM
    Hi there, i had my L5 S1 lumbar discemety on feb 11th, just one day after you. I was told under no conditions to drive until i am at least 6 weeks after my operation. I would have presumed this would have been the same instruction for you? Others on here have attempted to drive early after their discemety resulting in increased back pain and siatica pain.
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
    edited 03/06/2014 - 5:36 AM
    I was thinking like Noel, that I had been told not to drive before 6 weeks after surgery. I had a fusion so decided that it must be different with a microdiscectomy.

    Have you been given post surgery restrictions? I would check with your surgeon about this as different surgeons have different restrictions. It also depends on any medication that you are taking. I would certainly check on whether you should be driving yet as your insurance could be void if you are driving before you should be.

    Good luck to you both with your recoveries. :-)

  • hypernovablasthhypernovablast Posts: 12
    edited 03/06/2014 - 5:29 AM
    Thanks for the response.

    That's interesting. My doctor said driving was okay for 15-20min after a couple weeks and as long as no pain meds were being taken. At my 2.5 week post op visit he said I could go back to work for 1/2 days but after my issues from driving he said it was too soon to go back to work. It's hard have to ease off and take steps backward.

    How far are you walking?
  • hypernovablasthhypernovablast Posts: 12
    edited 03/06/2014 - 5:47 AM
    Thanks for the response.

    I did receive post-op restrictions and driving was restricted to 2 weeks or after the first post-op visit and as long as pain meds weren't being taken. I think you're right that the restrictions would be different from a fusion to a microdiscectomy.

    Even if I wait longer to get back in the car I'm afraid I'll have some sort of issue. It just doesn't feel like a good position to be in although I've managed with it for 7 years. I'm still afraid to get in the car again.
  • You mentioned he said to return to short driving periods within a "couple of weeks" but i wonder did he directly mean two weeks or did he actually specify how many weeks exactly. I would definitely get exact clarify on this. Ur recovery will be the most important part of this whole operation, you will want to do it once and do it right. As per walking, i stayed in my house all the first week, was out for daily 15 min walks on week two, and daily 30 min walks on week 3, but i have now unfortunately taking a few steps back due to swelling that developed over my surgical wound. I may have overdone things. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules as to how much walking and how quickly we can get back to it. I believe its slightly different for everyone.

  • After my fusion, my physiotherapist told me that walking was the most important thing I could do to help myself.

    I started to take just a short walk outside around the roads with my husband on the day after going home from hospital. A couple of days later, I took two small walks each day. By three weeks we went to a public garden and walking around it. It felt good to be outside in the fresh air.

    Noel, I think those backward steps are very common after spinal surgery. We feel better so do more and it sets us back. I hope that things will settle down again soon for you.

  • When discussing recovery from spine surgery, it is very important to be clear and understand exactly what type of surgery one is having. There have, and continue to be, great leaps forward in spine surgery techniques and therefore, the recover after these surgeries.

    Know that there are great differences in the below surgeries and the recoveries after them:

    Micro Discectomy
    Open Discectomy
    Micro Fusion
    Open Fusion - PLIF, TLIF, XLIF, etc.

    Of course, there are variation based on age and shape of the client, but the steadfast rules typically hold true.

    I had a Micro Discectomy at right side L3-L4 in 2011. I was told I could drive in less than a week. I was driving in three days, without pain and could easily have returned to work by the next week, but two weeks off is almost always the minimum.

    I am having surgery later this month for a left side Micro Discectomy at L4-L5. The doctor says I'll be driving in a week and back to work in two. Very much keep in line with the first surgery and what you'll typically find online.

    One of the keys to a Micro Discectomy recover is actually starting to walk after the day of surgery. Not just a little bit of walking, but a lot. Hopefully working up to several miles a day by the end of the week, at least. Typically, the more walking activity, the quicker recover. Sitting, resting and stagnation are not lending to the recover of a Micro Discectomy. That said, neither will lift, bending or improper sitting, either. You shouldn't be sitting more than 30 minutes at the most for the first several weeks.

    Remember, with a true Micro Discectomy, there should not be any muscle cutting or tearing. The cut is usually 1" to 3" inches.

    I won't comment on the other surgeries, since I have not had them, but I have done a great deal of reading on them and speaking to doctors about them. It seems that many of you are referring to a Micro D with the recovery times of Open Micro Ds or even Fusions. A Micro Disc Fusion can actually have less a recover than an Open Discectomy. The Micro procedure is always about less tissue, muscle damage and quicker recovery.

    Regards,
    -Andrew
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,960
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!
    Sue
    Spine-Health Moderator
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,960
    Re driving and any other activities post op, please always check with your doctor re any limitations and or restrictions.
    What may work with one in recovery, may be harmful to another.

    All posts are of personal experiences, and not to be taken as advice for your own personal situation and needs.
    Sue
    Spine-Health Moderator
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • zer0ed77 said:
    When discussing recovery from spine surgery, it is very important to be clear and understand exactly what type of surgery one is having. There have, and continue to be, great leaps forward in spine surgery techniques and therefore, the recover after these surgeries.

    Know that there are great differences in the below surgeries and the recoveries after them:

    Micro Discectomy
    Open Discectomy
    Micro Fusion
    Open Fusion - PLIF, TLIF, XLIF, etc.

    Of course, there are variation based on age and shape of the client, but the steadfast rules typically hold true.

    I had a Micro Discectomy at right side L3-L4 in 2011. I was told I could drive in less than a week. I was driving in three days, without pain and could easily have returned to work by the next week, but two weeks off is almost always the minimum.

    I am having surgery later this month for a left side Micro Discectomy at L4-L5. The doctor says I'll be driving in a week and back to work in two. Very much keep in line with the first surgery and what you'll typically find online.

    One of the keys to a Micro Discectomy recover is actually starting to walk after the day of surgery. Not just a little bit of walking, but a lot. Hopefully working up to several miles a day by the end of the week, at least. Typically, the more walking activity, the quicker recover. Sitting, resting and stagnation are not lending to the recover of a Micro Discectomy. That said, neither will lift, bending or improper sitting, either. You shouldn't be sitting more than 30 minutes at the most for the first several weeks.

    Remember, with a true Micro Discectomy, there should not be any muscle cutting or tearing. The cut is usually 1" to 3" inches.

    I won't comment on the other surgeries, since I have not had them, but I have done a great deal of reading on them and speaking to doctors about them. It seems that many of you are referring to a Micro D with the recovery times of Open Micro Ds or even Fusions. A Micro Disc Fusion can actually have less a recover than an Open Discectomy. The Micro procedure is always about less tissue, muscle damage and quicker recovery.

    Regards,
    -Andrew


    I just had a Micro Discectomy on the left side of my L4-L5. I was informed no driving for 2 weeks, no sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time and alternate with walking and laying down. I have a post-op appointment at 4 weeks and I am currently out of work for 6 weeks (potentially longer). The nature of my work though is not sitting at a desk, or working in an office. I am a line technician for a cable company. I am in and out of an aerial lift bucket and work 25-35 ft in the air for a good portion of my day. I also drive a lot at work. I am currently on the "gallon of milk" weight restriction. I cannot see myself going from a weight restriction of a gallon of milk to being able to do my daily tasks at work which consist of carrying loads sometimes up to 70lbs by myself.

    All I can say is, DO NOT RUSH IT. Take the time to recovery so you do not give yourself a better chance of starting this process all over again.
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