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recovery time

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have had lower back pain for 12 years now. I have been able to manage it with ice, heat, ibuprofen, chiro, massage, and occaisional muscle relaxants. It had been acting up over a 3 week period until Sept. 27 when it felt like lightening bolt went down my left leg. My husband took me to the ER and I was hospitalized for 1 week. I was given IV morphine, valium, and steroids (which increased my blood sugar to the point of needing insulin and I am not diabetic). An MRI showed herniated disc at l3-l4 which surgeon said is sitting on nerve root. Since then, I have had 2 epidural steroid injections, 1 nerve sheath injection, PT, tens unit, massive meds, a bone scan, cat scan, and nerve test. Surgeon (whom I trust from husbands prior experience-and is not surgery happy) said he wanted to avoid surgery because it is a hard area to get at. After no relief from pain, he scheduled surgery for Dec. 1-having to adjust calendar to do it. I backed out and soon regreted it as my life consists of work and sofa. I called to reschedue and was given the date Feb 6. After nurse talked to surgeon, she called back and gave date of Jan 5 as he added me at the end of the day. The procedure he is going to do sounds minor compared to many I have read here. He is going to do a lumbar decompression at l3-l4. Here is where I am cofused-I know what the procedure means but what can I expect afterwards? Husband had it done on l5-s1 and felt great next day and wanted to return to work but couldn't because he is a truck driver with physical duties. I am a chemical dependency social worker and counselor. How soon, realistically, can I return to work? Surgeon said 1-6 weeks but I don't know if that is because I told him I wanted to return at 3 days (pushing it I know). I am new in my current couny position and don't want to lose my job due to medical reasons-still on probation, no sick or vacation time yet-not yet eligible for FMLA. Any input would be great.


  • Last year at this time I was just home from decompression surgery on L3/L4. My surgeon told me his patients are usually "back to normal activities" at about 6 weeks after surgery. I listened to all those patients who returned to work right away, and tried to do it too. We all recover differently and depending on how long the nerve has been trapped, it can take quite a long time before you are "dancing" again. For me - it has taken a year. I tried to do everything much too soon. I am not telling you this to scare you. Just remember there is no hard and fast rule as to when you can get back on the job.

    Take care and keep us updated.
  • As jaycey says we are all different and recovery times can vary widely. In your favour is obviously that you do not have a physically demanding job. It sounds like in your job you sit a lot, but should be able to get up and move around frequently too, which well help.

    Many of us find that what limits us when we go back to work relatively early, is not pain (or not just pain) but extreme tiredness - that was my biggest issue when i returned to work after 4 weeks. So, if you could start back part time, that would probably help enormously too.

    All the best... Bruce
    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

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