An important aspect of considering surgery for a herniated disc is knowing what to expect on the road to recovery. Patients are often interested in details such as when they can return to work, when they can drive, and when they can expect to resume their normal pace of life. This can vary from one person to another, so it is difficult to answer that precisely. However, what we can say is that the more prepared a patient is, the better their recovery seems to be. Here, we do our best to help you set realistic expectations as you prepare for your herniated disc repair.
Dr. Albert has helped many patients leave intense pain behind. He spends time with each patient discussing their needs, concerns, and expectations and answering questions. When it comes to returning to normal activities, the general rule of thumb is to expect this to begin about 6 to 8 weeks after surgery. Before surgery, patients can prepare by:
- Scheduling sufficient time off. The safest bet is to arrange more time off than you think you will need. It may be less stressful to go back to work sooner than to extend time off.
- Arrange a comfortable and accessible space at home to rest and recovery. Equip this space with all of the niceties, such as warm, soft blankets and various relaxing activities. When you can stay busy with a stimulating task, recovery goes by much more quickly.
- Take care of mundane but necessary things like shopping, cleaning, and laundry just before surgery day so they are not on your mind when your focus should be rest and recovery.
Immediately after Surgery
The first week after spinal surgery is the most delicate. Your post-operative instructions may advise you to avoid bending and twisting, lifting objects, cooking, and other tasks. You may need help on and off the toilet and in and out of bed or a chair. Within the first week, you may begin walking to promote good circulation. You may also need some help with this, depending on how stable you feel while taking prescription pain medication.
Continuing Your Recovery
You may be able to return to work after one to two weeks at home, depending on the amount of activity you must do at work. Even if you have a desk job, you will need to take precautions to avoid discomfort. You may need to place a small pillow behind your back or under your bottom to support good posture. If you have a more strenuous job, you will be home for a few more weeks as you continue to build your tolerance for physical activity. You may also engage in physical therapy in the weeks following surgery.
When you follow doctor’s orders, you can expect the road to recovery to be smoother than it would be otherwise. Patients are encouraged to contact our office with any questions before or after their surgery.