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Recovery after Discectomy

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
edited 01/13/2016 - 6:52 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi Guys,

I amdue to have a Discectomy L5 | S1 and I am wandering what the recovery period is.

I work as a maintenance person on a holiday park and it involves alot of heavy lifting and manual work (wanders why he has a bad back lol). Am I right in saying that the recovery period is aboput 6 weeks? and is 6 weeks rest and recovery enough for me to go back to lifing and mowing, strimming etc?

What are your experiences?


  • What type of surgery will you be having, exactly?

    Will they be fusing the L5/S1 region, replaceing the disk, or just removing some material of the disk to relieve pressure?

    Each of these three have different "basic recovery times" -- in other words, estimates.

    Many of us have had disks removed, but most of us have different experiences, recovery stories and times, and issues with our recoveries..... so it may take a few responses back to you to get a realistic guess

    Best Wishes..........
  • Hello 90awk
    I had an L4/5 microdiscectomy a few years ago. I am an endurance athlete and was very concerned about recovery.It was done on Nov 25th and I was back riding my bike and back running by the following March. Personally, I would say you would need longer than six weeks for recovery and I'd be very cautious about lifting and mowing for a while longer than that.
    Take it easy.
    Let me know if I can help with any other questions you might have.
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  • Hi srtayl, thanks for your input,

    Well, information from 2 different regestrars has been very minimal, but what I remember him saying is "the only way I can see us helping you is if we remove the disc, or as much as we can"

    However, during my pre assessment, the nurse told me that I'd be having a Discectomy L5 | S1 (right sided). Does this mean they will only take out the right side of the disc?

    Nothing was said about fusing, or replacement. Sorry the registrars where not helpfull, infact I dont think anyone paid any attention when I tried to explain the effects of the caudal epidural.

    Hi Brian, thanks also for your input,

    do you have any lasting effects after your surgery?

  • They will remove some material and resuce the pressure on the spinal sord -- this may mean they may also take a bit of bone around the foramen and/or lamen.

    6 weeks for recovery is a bit aggressive in my opinion, but if you follow your docs advice and listen to your body very carefully you may just meet that

    Best Wishes................
  • My MicroD procedure was done in January at the L4L5 level and 6 weeks after I was able to lift my baby (8 kilos) or my toddler (12 kilos) if I was careful. I also had to lift their double stroller in and out of the house which I could manage if I took my time.

    Having said that I wasn't able to lift a basket of laundry at that stage as it was a different carrying position, front rather than side. I also struggled to get the little ones in and out of their car seats as you have to hold their weight whilst you are leaning forward.

    I would guess you could be back at work by the 6 week mark but with lifting restrictions. Would that be workable or is it an all or nothing kind of thing?

    All the best for your surgery and let us know how you get on.

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  • I would like to hear from anybody else with regards to recovery periods with simular procedures. To be honest, I can read lots of 'textbook' recovery times on the internet, however I'd like to hear real experiences so that I have a guide. Like I said, the professionals that I have seen have not been forthcoming with information.

    Thanks guys, I'd be on my own without you. Should I be as scared about this than I am?
  • I guess I am blessed with a good job working for a largish company who have to work within the law with regards to its employees. However, since a new manager took over the holiday park, he is not aware of the full extent on my back injury. I guess I dont make a point of making it fully known (dont like moaning). Anyway, I know I am safe within my job, and I am not expendable, so I know if nearer the time I have to sit down with him and tell him everything he will understand, and if not then I will go to HR. I dont think the latter will be neccessary.

    Previously I have had to do light duties when my back has been bad, that mostly involves sitting on a ride on lawnmower, I guess that would be do-able?

    I know that if I dont think that I am able to go to work then I wont! Surely if it means getting someone else in for a while then that aint worth crippling someone for the rest of their lives, right!

    I also have a young son. He'll be 2 later on this month, and yeah he's heavy. I can understand how it would be sad not to be able to pick up and cuddle the little ones.

    Thanks Cheeka
  • May I bump this thread?
  • For my case, it took longer than it should have due to my bad decisions.
    I did not do the PT afterwards.
    As it was explained to me, PT gets the joints moving, and reduces inflamation.
    Movement hurt so I ditched PT. They said that is what the post-op meds are for.....to kill the pain so I could do PT.
    Thus, I was trapped in a vicious cycle of pain:
    No movement = more inflamation = more pain = no movement.
    I layed in bed for 6 weeks.
    Finally, at 7 weeks I had an injection into the left L5-S1 foramen and it pretty much resolved all my pain. I have been able to become active again and it has helped a lot.

    My L4-L5 recovery was much quicker as I did do the PT after that one. I woke up from the procedure pain free and within about 3 weeks was doing quite well.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Here are few more details from my recovery, everyone is different but this in a nutshell is my experience:

    I woke up from the operation free of nerve pain in my back and left leg and its never returned. I have some pain on the other side but very mild so nothing that warrants more treatment or much change to my normal routine.

    I was in hospital 2 nights as I had low blood pressure. The op itself took 2 hours (45 mins is normal) as things were in a bit of a state and the disc had fragmented and wrapped around the nerve.

    I was much more comfortable when the surgical drain was removed the day afer the op and the incision healed really well (too well actually as some of the staples they put in were almost absorbed and really tough to get out).

    I went to my parents place for 2 weeks to recover and slowly learn what I could manage in terms of looking after my 2 little ones. I then moved back home and things returned to normal although I had to be very careful and take things slow and easy.

    As I am a full time Mum and don't work I am not sure when I would have felt ready to return to a job, but I think you are in with a shot at 6 weeks if you can do restricted duties. You might need to switch fairly frequently between sitting down and standing up and making sure you can walk about a fair bit.

    The PT is a good idea, I have been going to pilates and have found it very beneficial to correct some of the postural problems that have crept in from having a bad back.

    Let me know if there is any more info you are after,

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