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Is it safe to bend over like this years after lumbar discectomy?

BoertjieBBoertjie Posts: 6
edited 12/18/2015 - 11:13 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello everyone!

I've joined this forum to try to set my mind at ease regarding my mother's way of bending over after her back surgery. Here's the story...

15 years ago she picked up a heavy bucket of water and injured her lower back. After 3 months of extreme pain in her leg and thigh, and visiting several kinds of health care practitioners, she went to a neurosurgeon. The diagnosis was a slipped disc between the L3 and L4 (if I remember correctly). He did a surgery on her and removed part of the disc. He also warned her that if she injured herself again, spinal fusion would be the next step.

Her recovery went very well. The only remaining complications today (15 years later) is that her left leg is weakened. She hasn't visited the surgeon in many years.

She is vigilant about taking proper care about her back. She avoids lifting any heavy object and keeps her back straight. She also weighs very little...45kg. Yes she is a very small woman. However, lately I've noticed she is bending over like this...


Although she keeps her back straight (or very close to straight), I am absolutely worried sick that her bending over so far that her back is at times horizontal might injure her again.

Can anyone tell me if it is safe to bend over the way pictured above after a lumbar discectomy? Or at least point me to info that might answer my question?

I've searched around this website, but couldn't find a specific answer...
Welcome to Spine-Health

One of the most important things that members can do is to provide the rest of the community with as much information about themselves as possible. It is so very difficult for anyone to respond when we do not have enough information to go on. This is not meant to indicate that you are doing anything wrong or violated any rule, we are just trying to be pro-active and get the information upfront so that people can start responding and your thread is more effective.

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Specific comments :

Personal Opinion, not medical advice :

--- Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Moderator : 12/16/15 20:14 est



  • BoertjieBBoertjie Posts: 6
    edited 12/17/2015 - 9:36 AM
    No-one? What have your doctors told you about bending forward? Any specific do's and don'ts?
  • My PT told me I should probably never bend like that again.. I think this all really depends on each individual's situation and how their spine and general fitness is.
    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
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  • RunnerHKT said:
    I bent like that after a discectomy.
    I'm curious... between which vertebrae was your discectomy? And how severe was your condition before the surgery?
  • brandis77 said:
    My PT told me I should probably never bend like that again.. I think this all really depends on each individual's situation and how their spine and general fitness is.
    Also curious... how severe was your condition and between which vertebrae was your discectomy?
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,133
    So, even if it was a L2/L3, L4/L5, L5/S1 surgery, non-invasive or complicated the final word on how to bend and how not to bend needs to be
    discussed with your doctor and your physical therapists.

    The stick figure you provided initially, my physical therapist would scream if I tried that. That would have been true at my first L4/L5
    Hemilaminectomy , to my last ACDF. For myself, I have to always bend my legs and keep my back straight, never forward.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
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  • I bent like that after a discectomy. I actually did dead lifts after my discectomy (not the week after, or the month after). But... if you are concerned, then she should speak to her physician.... the picture you show is of her bending at the hips, which is actually the way that we are taught to bend. If you pursue the site a bit you 'll learn that even some people with complete spinal fusions are able to completely touch their palms to the ground when bent over.

    the reason you won't find a definitive answer is that all patients are very different. Some people recover very well from surgery and some do not and even people who see the same surgeon and have the same surgery tend to get slightly different instructions based on their specific pathology.
  • brandis77bbrandis77 Posts: 193
    edited 12/18/2015 - 6:06 PM
    My herniation was L4/5. My MRI was done at the ER and I never ended up seeing it, but within 2 weeks of the herniation (I felt it happen) and less than 24hrs after seeing my surgeon, I was under the knife.
    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
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    Ages ago when I learned "body mechanics"...not sure if it's even called that now, re stick figure...that is never the way for even the healthy spine to position itself.
    Even into my healthy twenties, I could do that position only with my head resting in the wall in front of me.

    If an object is that far ahead for need to reach, feet need to be closer and bent knees to keep back aligned and upright..
    As was mentioned above.

    The bending pictured..is still bending the lumbar area of spine and cervical spine could become strained and or out of alignment as the head is being used to assist balance. And our heads our quite a weighty part of our anatomy.
    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • BoertjieBBoertjie Posts: 6
    edited 12/18/2015 - 11:14 PM
    Thank you for your replies!

    Yes, I expected that the do's and don'ts would vary from one person to another based on their unique case.

    I was also told by someone else I've asked that my mother best avoided bending so low and that she should rather kneel if she needed to go that low.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences!
  • Savage said:
    The bending pictured..is still bending the lumbar area of spine and cervical spine could become strained and or out of alignment as the head is being used to assist balance. And our heads our quite a weighty part of our anatomy.
    This is my exact thoughts on the matter. Even if one consciously tries to keep one's back straight, I cannot see how the lumbar spine is not bending at least to some degree when one bends like that.

    Even though all of us realize that the do's and don'ts vary from patient to patient, it seems that most of you who replied so far agree that the bending pictured is dangerous. Most of the replies so far confirm my fears.
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