How long after surgery before you returned to work?

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Anonymous (not verified)
Title: Member
How long after surgery before you returned to work?

I'm just trying to gauge where I'm at and how long I can reasonably expect to be out of work. My doctor said 12 weeks originally and my HR department wants me to confirm that tomorrow so if it will be longer she can start my LTD paperwork. My job requires that I sit in from of a computer all day when in the office and also I am expected to travel 60% of the time (that never happens but it could). The hardest thing for me right now is sitting so I can't imagine going back to work in just 5 weeks and sitting ALL DAY long. Let alone hiking through an airport with luggage, purse and laptop.

I always thought because my job wasn't one where I was required to be on my feet (again that's only when I'm in the office..when I'm not it's a different story) that going back would be easier, now I'm seriously reconsidering that thought. I'm 7 1/2 weeks post-op and have spent the last 3 or 4 days in bed in I'm worried about work. I know I still have almost 5 weeks scheduled off but I still can't help but be scared I just won't be ready. I know my company will be understanding though, that's not really a worry for me so I guess I'm lucky on that note.

Thanks everyone!

Spicey (not verified)
Title: Member
It took me a while

I was about 6 months out before I went back to work. I'd lost my previous job due to being off work for 18 months before I even got the surgery so I started some light shop work 2 days a week, then built up to 3 days a week after that. My recovery took a while because I was in such a bad way before I had the surgery and apparently that can add to your recovery time. But I did finally get a full time job again and was doing great. It just takes time for your body to get used to working again. It's hard to begin with but it does get easier as time goes on.

Good luck with HR - it's so hard asking how long you will be off for, it's like asking how long is a piece of string! Not being able to give a return to work date is what's just cost me my job again - history repeating itself....

Take care hun, Spicey

RottenBraten (not verified)
Title: Member
I'm so sorry

I had read on Pebbles old thread that you were losing your job...I'm really sorry. I think my company will be okay as long as it's not tooooooooooo long. We have a great HR manager that really goes to bat for the staff and I have to say the company itself is good. Though this is my second surgery in 3 1/2 years. Last time I was supposed to be out 8 weeks but was able to go back after 5 (hysterectomy) but that didn't affect me sitting..this DOES...

I was really looking forward to my appt tomorrow and being released for PT and driving and now I'm scared of both. I know I need to buck up and stop worrying but I do.

Thanks for listening Smile


rachel (not verified)
Title: Member
graduated return to work

Hi Rotten, i think you had your surgery the week before me. Do you guys have gradated return to work in the States? this is where you start back maybe afew hours on afew days of the week. it may not be ideal for your employer howeever they seem very supportive and it would be beneicial for you to pace yourself??

RottenBraten (not verified)
Title: Member

I think my company would let me come back part time at first if I wanted but I'd either lose my benefits or have to pay for this point I'm getting 66.6% of my normal salary for STD and then I'll have one month of nothing and if LTD kicks in the rate is 70%....although going back to work may make me feel semi-normal, I know I'm not ready and financially it's better to wait it out I think.


rachel (not verified)
Title: Member
it sounds like you have a

it sounds like you have a pretty good idea of your decision and just need your surgeon to sign off on it??? it is great that you have a supportive employer as they can make recovery so much smoother,

good luck with the doc visit

Bruce's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Title: Member
Joined: 06/19/2008 - 7:57pm
My situation was similar

My job is similar, and I had an L5-S1 fusion too. I went back to work at 4 weeks post fusion, for 3 hours a day. This was too soon! Not so much due to pain (I will get to that) but due to tiredness. I had no idea until this point what major surgery takes out of you and by the end of 3 hours at work I was totally exhausted. Nevertheless I plodded on and returned to work full time at 6 weeks but I remained tired for weeks.

Regarding pain my biggest problem was pain in the sacrum when sitting. At first I could only do 15-20 minutes and then I had to get up and walk around the office for 5 minutes or so, then after a week or so it stretched out to sitting for about an hour before getting up. The problem is that you become engrossed in your computer work and forget to get up and move around so next thing you know you are in a lot of pain. To counter this, download one of the many freeware alarm programs and set it to automatically alarm every 45 minutes or so, thus prompting you to get up and more around - it really worked for me.

By 3 months post op I was doing 7 hour international business trips and they really were not too bad - just remember to pack light, in small bag(s) and don't forget your medication.

Keep positive!

Bruce old timer here and ex-moderator

Angelback (not verified)
Title: Member
Look after you

I had surgery same day as you PLIF L3-S1 so am at the same stage. Thankfully I dont have a job to go back to, as I resigned before surgery, knowing it was inappropriate work.

I am on workers compensation and I know I will have them breathing down my neck very soon, wanting me to find another job but we have to look after ourselves first. That whole process can be hours and hours each day at the computer just searching.

I am going to stand my ground as I know that there is no way I would be comfortable being at work in 5 weeks and sitting all day.

So do what is right for you Wink and let the company look after itself- dont feel guilty in any way. (That is a hard lesson to learn)

Blessings Sara Smile

Brian McCarthy
Brian McCarthy's picture
Last seen: 4 years 9 months ago
Title: Member
Joined: 06/27/2008 - 12:09pm
How long after surgery before you returned to work?

Hello Rotten Baten and everyone else in on this subject.
I am 11 weeks post op tomorrow after Charite ADR L3/L4, L4/L5 and ALIF L5/S1 on 22nd April. I am back to work today and like you, sit at a desk most of the time with a fair bit of travel too, mainly driving. I am not feeling so great now and maybe it is a bit soon. I am still on Tramodol, Paracetomol and Ibruprofen but was going stir crazy lying around most of the day. I have physio tonight straight from work but I think a graduated return - maybe a few hours each day to start with is probably best.
I do have a couch here in my office so I can lay down a bit later.
Hope your recoveries all are going well. It does take a while doesn't it?

cgb728 (not verified)
Title: Member
Today is my first day back

Today is my first day back to work, 3 weeks after discectomy (L5 S1). My back feels fine, but I still have terrible sciatic pain in the left leg. Worse than before surgery. Doc said nerve was very badly pinched for a long time (10 months) and could take a long time to heal. Anyone with similar experience... can you give me an idea how long it was before you started to feel a significant enough improvement to say... Ok this is working?

Frustrated! Sad


lynnsy's picture
Last seen: 1 year 4 months ago
Title: Member
Joined: 06/22/2008 - 8:31am
I'm at 20 weeks post-op from

I'm at 20 weeks post-op from a three level fusion, and can't imagine going back to work yet!!!! I've still got a ways to go before I would be able to stand or sit for any length of time!!!