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Can anyone tell me how long it takes to recover from back surgery?

I have a bulging disc at L4/5. Epidurals didnt work and I am on massive doses of pain meds. I am told surgery is my only option. This scares me as I don't know how I can keep my (small sole trader) business going if the recovery period takes longer than a few weeks. i have heard different estimates on this -but nobody can tell me for definite. Please advise!
Thanks in advance.
condition: juvenile disc protrusion
at L4/5 compressing L5 root.
Age: 61
meds: paracetemal, tramadol, Lyrica, naproxen and fentanyl 25 mg patchs


  • Hi , I had double level fusion in August and went back to work in 9 weeks. It was a little rough going back that soon
    but managed to get through it relatively ok. Being fit and HWP also helped!
    That said, everyone is different with regards to healing as well as thier own unique back issues. You , because your only dealing with one level , may heal faster. Also, age , I'm 52 , and other health factors may be in play regarding ones
    rate of healing. Just as an FYI , I'm doing pretty well and back to all of my pre surgery activities! Would I do it again , YES!
    I hope this helps!
    Take care and best wishes on your potential surgery!!
    Bilateral L5 spondylolysis L5 with grade I anterolisthesis L5-S1.
    Stable multilevel degenerative spondylosis contributing to mild canal
    narrowing L2-3 and L3-4.
    360 ALIF & PLIF L-4 - S-1 on 8/11/14
  • Thanks for reply! Great to hear you are doing well. Still undecided as 9 weeks is a long time to neglect my business -may not be a business left after that time! Still don't want to be in pain rest of my life..
    condition: juvenile disc protrusion
    at L4/5 compressing L5 root.
    Age: 61
    meds: paracetemal, tramadol, Lyrica, naproxen and fentanyl 25 mg patchs
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  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,584
    edited 05/09/2015 - 4:07 AM
    take until you recovery from a lumbar surgery. There are so many different variables involved. Each one can either shorten or lengthen the recovery time.

    Some key factors are:
    • - Is there a disc impinging a nerve root?- What will the actual surgery be?- Will you be fused?- How long have you been dealing with this problem?- What kind of overall physical condition are you in? - Do you smoke?- How long the surgery will be- How well will you adhere to the limitations and restrictions placed on you?- How will you fare in Physical Therapy?- etc
    As you can see there are many different variables that will actually determine your recovery time.

    As sort of a general thought, anywhere between 1 and 2 months for the simple lumbar surgery might be appropriate. It can be much longer for more complex surgeries. When there is nerve damage involved, the recovery time could be up to a year.

    But this doesnt not mean that you can not do some activities during those time frames. There will be checkpoints and milestones along the way.
    When you start physical therapy, when you get drive, when you can go back to work, etc

    The bottom line and only medically official word on your recovery will come from you doctor and other medical professionals you will be seeing.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • Can you tell us how long it will take to recover from back surgery? The sky is the limit. The answer is simply that everyone is different.

    Let me tell you this. If you worry more about your financial situation, you will rush back in and only prolong the inevitable. You have to put health first. Without it there is nothing. I'm sorry if that isn't what you want to hear, but I have been home for almost 16 months and have thought those exact same thoughts you are currently thinking. In the end, I had to sell my house and down size, but it isn't the end for me; I WILL RISE AGAIN. Bottom line is that you need to focus on yourself. Forget the rest. It will all fall into place again someday.... Things always have a weird way of working themselves out. And never forget that where one door closes, another shall open.

    Wishing you all the best in your conquest

    Doug Hell
    Spine-Health Moderator

    Realize that FEAR is our worst enemy. Get up & get out in that stormy weather of the real world & kick fear in the teeth. Stare at it dead in the eyes & walk right through it into the storm; because once you're wet, you won’t fear the rain anymore
  • Like everyone said - everyone is different.
    I had ALIF on L5-S1 on April 20th, and was back to working part time in 2 weeks, full time in three weeks. I work in an office/sales job that is mostly computer work. I am in a brace for three months and can't bend, lift or twist. But before surgery I took 40mg of NOrco a day and three weeks out I'm down to 15mg and hope to be off pain pills soon.
    Talk to your doc about recovery. I know a lot depends on the type of approach, I was told if they went through the back it would be 6 months and the front was a couple weeks.
    Good luck!!!
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  • hulaw2007hhulaw2007 Posts: 44
    edited 05/12/2015 - 3:39 AM
    I think its a really personal thing. I was out of work for six weeks from a desk job. I did NOT have to wear a brace after the six weeks. My doctor frowned upon the back brace. But I think you need to follow your doctors instructions to the T. That being said, I probably could have worked form home the last week I was at home, maybe the last two. It all depends on how you recover I think. At least four weeks I would say, but like I already said its kind of individual and your doctor could probably give you a better estimate based on your personal situation. I also think that the recovery was not actually as bad as I thought it would be. YOu do ave to listen to your doctor and you do have to follow certain restrictions for a long time it seems, but it is not terrible if you are motivated and follow direction well. Good luck!
  • I'm 5 months post fusion and am back to work full time in a desk job. Its hard and I still have lots of pain sitting. I would say lower you're expectations and listen to your body. Its a long recovery and I expected to bounce back quicker than was realistic.
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