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L5-S1 Discectomy/Laminectomy

Good morning everyone. I am a 32 active duty member of the military. I have been having back problems every since I sustained an injury in the Middle East in 2010. Fast forward to now and I have been diagnosed with DDD and several herniated disks. I am scheduled for a single level discectomy and laminectomy next week.

Although I am aware everyone recovers differently, what can I expect as far as post surgical pain, mobility, etc? Will I ever be able to go back to completely "normal" activities (high impact training/physical fitness, sit-ups)? How long do most people take off work?

I hate going into situations blind, so anyone's experiences would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again!


  • Welcome to the site, WBH! There are lots of us L5/S1 folks on this message board, but the threads are scattered throughout different categories. I'd suggest using the website's search feature to find more info about these surgeries.

    I had a L5/S1 microdiscectomy (not a laminectomy though) 2 weeks ago and you can find my story through the link below. I'd also suggest searching the various "surgery buddy" threads, to either find someone who is having a similar procedure at the same time, or to read about more people's experiences.

    in general, from everything I've read, everyone's recovery varies SO MUCH. From the fit to the mostly inactive, recovery does not seem to be predictable. The amount of time people are off work depends completely on their job and their individual recovery; generally between 4 and 8 weeks? But I imagine if you have a very physical job, it could easily be more than 8 weeks. Many people do get back to completely "normal" activities, but there is really no way to predict exactly how your body will recover, or when. It can take months, even years, for your damaged nerves to recover.

    I also hate not knowing what to expect, so both my lumbar and cervical surgery recovery times have been very challenging for me. I HATE having to "just wait and see" and am ready to move on with my life! But at least it is good to know that none of us are alone, and there are many people on this message board to support us and give tips along the way.
    L4/5/S1 scar tissue removal surgery, plus unexpected L4/5 microdiscectomy #2 October 2015
    L4/5 microdiscectomy May 2015
    2-level ADR C4-6 (Mobi-C) February 2015
  • I would like to say "Thank you" for serving our country and I am sorry you sustained an injury because of it. I have not had surgery yet; therefore, I can't answer your question. However, many of the lovely people on here should be able to answer your question.
  • I had L5 -S1l laminectomy/discectomy 25 years ago at the age of 34. I was physically fit and at the top of my game and everything else. I was a construction worker, sheet metal worker and I was probably at the strongest time of my life. I injured my back at work, and I waited about 10 months before I decided to have the surgery. You're obviously physically fit being active duty. I pulled through pretty good , because I was in good shape. (Other than the blown disc). No one can can tell you how your going to turn out after the surgery. It depends on how bad the disc is, how fast you can recover, and many other variables.

    I had to stop working construction because of the demanding job I had to do. I found other work I could do and I did very good for many years after. Every person is different, we all heal differently. If you have a top notch doctor, and you follow his instructions, you might turn out ok. I can only tell you how my story went. That's pretty much all I can tell you. I would like to thank you for your service to our country, and wish you the best of luck.

  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,459

    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

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