Postoperative Care for Lumbar Microdiscectomy Surgery

The lumbar microdiscectomy surgery—to alleviate sciatica, or pain along the sciatic nerve, caused by a disc herniation—has significantly improved in recent years (e.g. a shorter recovery period, less pain, and higher success rates). While different spine surgeons will recommend somewhat different approaches to postoperative care after this type of back surgery, there are several general facets of postoperative recovery that can be expected.

Mobilization and Exercise after a Microdiscectomy Surgery

The traditional approach to recovery after a microdiscectomy back surgery has been to limit bending, lifting, or twisting for six weeks to prevent a recurrent lumbar disc herniation. Unfortunately, because the disc covering has a poor blood supply, healing of the hole where the inner core of the disc extruded may take three to four months to scar over. Therefore, restricting a patient’s activity for six weeks after microdiscectomy back surgery will not necessarily prevent a recurrence.

Article continues below

This rationale has recently been confirmed with several clinical studies. In a recently published study in the Spine Journal, it was found that even if patients were sent back to work within a couple of weeks, they had no higher percentage of a recurrent lumbar disc herniation.

Earlier mobilization after microdiscectomy back surgery may actually help patients heal sooner since patients with significant pain often have limited their motion, and an early exercise program for appropriate stretching, strengthening and conditioning may help work out the secondary soft tissue component of their back pain and/or leg pain.

Pages: