What Can I Expect After Herniated Disc Surgery?

Different treatment options exist to treat one or more herniated discs. Typically, orthopedic specialists recommend non-surgical solutions to reduce the pressure the herniated disc places on specific nerves. Common treatments include anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, and physical therapy. If those alone are not enough to reduce your pain and other symptoms, surgery can be your next step to restore your spine health. 

Your recovery process depends on the specific surgery your orthopedic specialist performs to treat your herniated disc. Your healing can also depend on your general health although most procedures require specific lab tests to ensure that you can safely undergo surgery. 

Learning about general expectations and actionable steps you can take can set you up for success after your surgery. Of course, following your surgeon’s and physical therapist’s instructions is especially important. 

Types of Herniated Disc Surgery

  • Discectomy or microdiscectomy
  • Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)
  • Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)
  • Lumbar laminotomy
  • Spinal fusion
  • Artificial disk surgery

When Can I Go Back to Work?

Most people can safely return to work after two to four weeks. However, you may need to wait up to 12 weeks to resume your job duties if your work involves activities that cause excessive strain on your back. Your doctor may also recommend ergonomic adjustments to your workstation if necessary. You should wait for your doctor’s approval before going back to work, even if your job is sedentary.

How Long Does Recovery Take?

After herniated disc surgery, you may either go home on the same day or the following one. Make sure that someone else drives you home.

You can generally expect your recovery to take six to twelve weeks depending on the type of surgery you had. Although you may return to work after only a couple of weeks, you need to modify certain activities or avoid strenuous ones, including many forms of exercise, for additional weeks.

Within a few weeks, your symptoms should decrease and possibly disappear. Your doctor may also recommend you to start physical therapy three to four weeks after your surgery to rebuild your physical strength and abilities. 

How Can I Maximize My Healing Process?

Your orthopedic surgeon will likely recommend you avoid the following activities for several weeks:

  • Bending or stretching too much
  • Driving
  • Heavy lifting
  • Sitting for long periods

Post-Surgical Physical Therapy

Depending on your specific situation and the type of procedure you had, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help you recover more quickly and safely. 

During your first physical therapy visit you can expect:

  • A physical examination
  • A review of your medical history
  • A discussion of your current symptoms
  • Answers to any questions you may have

Your physical therapist can either follow recommendations from your surgeon or create your customized treatment plan solely on their assessment. 

During your physical therapy treatment, you can expect both in-office sessions to improve your strength, balance, and coordination, and at-home stretches and exercises to support your recovery. Your physical therapist will demonstrate what you need to do at home.

Will I Need Additional Surgeries?

Herniated disc surgery typically has a high success rate. However, each individual’s situation is unique. If you need additional treatment for one or more herniated discs, your doctor can recommend another surgery, either the same type or a different one, like a spinal fusion for a recurring herniated disc, or a non-surgical treatment.

To support your spinal health, you can maintain a healthy and stable weight and engage in regular physical activity. Strong core and back muscles can make a significant difference in your back health. Making sure you lift heavy objects with proper form can also reduce your risk of developing further back problems. 

If you are looking for practical tips for a healthy back, you should ask your orthopedic surgeon or your physical therapist. 

Why Choose OSSWF for Your Herniated Disc Surgery

When it comes to surgery on your back, you want to be in the hands of a highly reputable orthopedic team. At OSSWF, our team includes surgeons, doctors, and therapists dedicated to your spine’s health. We collaborate at every step of your health journey, and we can also communicate with your primary care physician when necessary. We combine compassionate care, medical excellence, and state-of-the-art technology to provide you with lasting pain relief and restore your spinal health. 

If you are unsure whether you need surgery for a herniated disc, would like a second opinion, or are at the beginning of your medical journey to find an appropriate treatment, OSSWF can provide you with a detailed diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan. 

If you are looking for a reputable orthopedic surgeon in Fort Myers or its surrounding area, contact the Orthopedic Specialists of Southwest Florida today at 239-215-2008 to schedule an appointment.

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