Returning to Normal Activities after Disc Herniation Surgery

Dr. Sandro LaRocca MD of New Jersey Neck & Back Institute, P.C.

When considering surgery for your herniated disc, it is important to know what you can expect on the road to recovery. Returning to normal activities may vary from patient to patient depending on the physical demands, and the more prepared you are, the easier it will be. At New Jersey Neck & Back Institute, P.C., Dr. Sandro LaRocca spends extensive time with each patient on customizing their personal care plan, ensuring that they know what they’ll be facing before and after surgery. Here, we provide advice to help you set expectations for your recovery from disc herniation surgery.

Planning Ahead

Before your surgery, take a moment to discuss the post-surgery period with your doctor. Recovery is different for everyone. Generally, patients can return to normal activity 6 – 8 weeks after the surgery.  Prior to surgery, Dr. LaRocca recommends doing the following:

  • Request time off from work. To be safe, ask for more time than you think you’ll need. You can always go back sooner than planned.
  • Prepare a comfortable and accessible resting place with some relaxing activities.
  • Do laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about them in your first weeks after the procedure.

Immediately after Surgery

Your first week home from surgery is the most delicate and difficult period of recovery. You should stay home from work, avoid heavy lifting, and try not to twist or bend forward. If you live alone, it’s a good idea to ask a family member or friend to visit and help you with tasks that require bending and lifting.

Slowly increase your activity level over the first week after surgery. Walking is an excellent exercise that can improve endurance and promote circulation without requiring any twisting or bending. Dr. LaRocca may also recommend other simple exercises. Meanwhile, be alert for any redness, swelling, or discharge and bring them to the doctor’s attention immediately if these side effects occur.

Continuing Your Recovery

After the first week or two, it is usually safe to return to a sedentary job. Be sure to maintain proper posture at your desk. If your job requires strenuous work, however, stay home for a few more weeks. Meanwhile, continue to build upon your tolerance for exercise. You may begin a course of physical therapy, but this isn’t necessary for all patients. Many individuals can recover rapidly without any post-operative rehabilitation.

Also, be sure to stay in communication with the doctor about your return to normal daily activity. If your herniated disc was fixed with minimally invasive surgery, you should feel almost fully recovered in 6-8 weeks.  Other procedure types typically take longer to fully heal. Even when you feel recovered, however, don’t engage in any high-intensity activity or work until you’ve received clearance from Dr. LaRocca.

Follow the Doctor’s Orders

Make sure to follow Dr. LaRocca’s advice through the entire process. Returning to activities too quickly can interfere with your recovery, causing delays or even long-term damage. With patience, however, you can eventually enjoy the results of a complete recovery. To learn more about returning to normal activities after disc herniation surgery, make an appointment at New Jersey Neck & Back Institute, P.C., which serves Central New Jersey out of Lawrenceville, Wall Township, Mount Laurel, and North Brunswick.

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*New Jersey Neck & Back Institute, P.C. offers surgical treatments for a variety of spinal and neck conditions, and does not treat or consult on hip, leg, ankle, knee, or non-spinal conditions.

*New Jersey Neck & Back Institute, P.C. does not provide personalized consulting or advice over phone or email. All interaction must be done via appointment at one of our 4 main offices listed below.

*We are located in New Jersey, USA and do not provide medical advice via email or phone. We do not accept Medicare or Medicaid, however we do participate with commercial insurance as an out of network provider.

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