Early mobilization and exercise may help patients heal sooner, as the pre-operative pain has usually caused patients to limit their motion, and limited motion is a common cause of pain. In addition to an early exercise program of stretching, strengthening, and conditioning, return to normal daily activity may also help improve the secondary soft tissue component of the pain after microdiscectomy back surgery.


Walking exercise after microdiscectomy spine surgery is very gentle on the back, and a postoperative walking program with a goal of walking about 3 miles a day is advisable. Typically, patients will be advised to start out walking a short distance and gradually work up to a distance of a few miles, and to let pain be their guide. Applying ice and/or taking an NSAID (e.g. ibuprofen) after walking will help alleviate the pain and discomfort sometimes associated with an increase in activity after back surgery.

Return to work after microdiscectomy back surgery is based both on how quickly the patient feels better and on what type of work the patient does. Many surgeons do not restrict post-operative activity but advise patients to return to all their normal activities in a gradual fashion and let pain be their guide.

For those microdiscectomy back surgery patients who have worker's compensation insurance and need specific guidelines prior to returning to work, spine surgeons will often let them return to modified duty 7 to 10 days after a microdiscectomy and to full duty after 2 to 3 weeks, depending on their required duties.

Many Patients Feel Better with Exercise

Again, many spine surgeons feel that early return to normal activity is safe and does not lead to an increased probability of a recurrent disc herniation in the early postoperative period. Many patients actually feel better sooner if they return to their normal level of functioning as soon as possible after microdiscectomy back surgery.