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using the computer post-op ... best sitting position

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hey All,

I am having a discectomy (not fusion) L5-S1 on Monday and am preparing. I have bought a grabber, etc, etc. I am going to want to use my computer soon after surgery. What position is best to use the computer? Is sitting up in bed realistic? lying flat on the bed face down? Is there a some sort of table to use in bed i could buy? Appreciate anyone who has been through this offering advice.

Separately, I have heard sitting on an exercise ball is good for keeping good posture. How soon post-op should I start that? Does it put stress on the back?

Thanks for your advice and support!!



  • Hi,

    I had my diskectomy 3 weeks ago, and the day after I came home from the hospital I was able to sit up in a chair (with lots of pillows) in front of my pc at home. not for more than a few minutes at a time, but long enough to look on this forum or send an email. you're not going to want to do more than that anyway for a day or so. Sleeping will be your top priority for a few days. My Dr. told me absolutely not to sleep or lie on my stomach for atr least 6 weeks post op. But if you prop yourself up with lots of pillows, you may be able to tolerate sitting up in bed. Depends on how much sciatic pain you still have after surgery. mine was actually worse than before so that would not have worked for me right away. After a few days I was able to sit for longer and longer periods... again, propped with pillows under my butt and behind my back.

    I'm back to work now, where I have a kneeling type computer chair that keeps my back straight and minimized my sciatic pain (still waiting for nerves to heal).

    I'm not sure about the ball thing... most likely you will be visited in the hospital by a PT before you are discharged. I would ask him/her about that.

    Hope some of this helps, and good luck!

  • I bought a tv tray at bed bath and beyond for $15. I still use it everyday when I lay on the couch. It is also great for reading and eating. We had the same thing done and honestly I had to lay flat. I also recommend having several water botlles at the ready, your meds on the table and something to lean on when you are going to sit on the toilet. I used the door handle and the sink( my bathroom is small) A thick pillow for under the legs is crucial or atleast it was for me. Good luck and remember slow just go slow
  • When i opened my office/store one thing i wanted to make sure of was that my employees were comfortable and bought some of the best ergonomic office chairs available, everyone was used to the chairs they had at home and were amazed that they could actually be so comfortable.
  • Triniboy:

    I had a TLIF. My doctor told me minimal sitting the first 6 weeks as it would cause pain and stress on the spine. I had a hospital bed and this worked very well. My husband "rigged" a shelf and I used my laptop in bed.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,856
    The most important thing you need to focus in right now is your surgery and then your recovery period and what you need to do to ensure that recovery is the best it can be.

    Desk work and Computer will come in time. Its very difficult to provide #of days or weeks post op that its safe to do that.
    That type of information needs to be discussed with your doctor. Each person is an individual and each situation can be so different.

    Now, ONCE you are ready and cleared to use computers , there are a few things you should look at:

    1) Spine-Health provides excellent information regarding office chairs and other work place setups:

    2) You need to take frequent breaks. You should stay at your workstation no longer than 45 minutes at a time. You then need to get up , stretch , walk for at least 10 minutes before returning to the computer.

    3) Follow all your restrictions and limitations that were laid out for you by your doctor. DO not try to overdue anything. Sometimes all it takes is ignoring a limitation, exceeding it and you could be in for some major trouble.

    You can read my medical story, but for over 30 years, computers has been my line of work. I had my last surgery back in 2000, still have other disc problems, but even know, I follow the rules of the road. If I forget some of the, I will pay the price later on.

    I have used those large exercise ball's as a seat. It works quite effectively. It forces me into much better posture when I am at the computer. I also have a luxury in that I have about 7 computers (between desktops and thinkpads) so that not only can I take my breaks, I can also go to a different room, different environment, switch from the standard keyboard/mouse to the portable setup. That has helped me both physically and emotionally
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • If you have a laptop in bed with a bunch of pillows piled up behind you would probaly be the best .Honestly the first couple of days are the worst after that everyday gets better just remember take it easy . good luck
  • I have found the most awesome laptop stand ever. You can use it laying completely flat and it is comfortable. It cost around $100.00 but if you can afford it, I recommonded it fully. Even after I have healed I think I will still use this thing it is so comfy!

    I will PM you the link.

    One Love,

  • HI again:

    Ron is right, whether you are sitting or what ever you do after surgery...many people do too much too soon. That is often when you can get into trouble and experience pain. Recovery from back surgery is a long process. I have had many (unrelated) surgeries over the years, and back surgery takes the longest, by far, to recover from. I am at 14 months, have done well, but it has been the slowest recovery. You have to be patient and let your back heal.

  • For the first couple of weeks, it was impossible for me to use the computer. I tried, but I couldn't find a comfortable position. If the laptop was on the bed, I couldn't reach over and pick it up to put in my lap. I tried putting pillows behind me, but still couldn't get comfortable enough to do it. Getting out of the bed to go to my desk pc just wasn't worth all the effort! Sorry to be so negative, but it just didn't work for me.
  • If you have a lap top what I did that is really cheep I just put a plastic cutting board under the lap top so there is air flow under the lap top and it does not over heat. I found one that is exactly the size of my lap top and it was cheep. Then just lay on your back and have your lap top with the cutting board under it laying on your stomach. I've gotten so used to doing this I still lay on my couch with the lap top sometimes just because it's so convenient.

    Just make sure the cutting board is big enough so all of the feet of the lap top are sitting on it to hold the computer up so there is air flow.
  • The swiss balls are great for building your core stabilty muscles but I really wouldn't recommend then for a while post op. If not used correctly they can put undue pressure where you dont want it.
    If you decided to get one then I reccommend you see a PT or exercise physiologist to give you exercises to do with on and and to choose the right size ball for you.
    They really are not supposed to be used for sitting long term.
    Blessigns Sara O:)
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,856
    Many Laptop and Thinkpad batteries get very hot. Some dangerously hot and many different models have been recalled.
    You do need airflow under the laptop. The best unit is a plastic platform with 2 fans that plug into the USB port and help cool down the computer. Costs only about $25
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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