Realistic Expectations for Herniated Disc Repair

When a patient comes to our office to discuss low back pain, one of their greatest concerns is what will happen if they need surgery. Despite significant advances in surgical techniques, many people still assume that back surgery is open, invasive, painful, and complicated in terms of recovery. One of our primary roles in discussing treatment for problems like herniated discs is to reassure patients and help them set realistic expectations for their road to recovery. Here, we discuss details that may help you as you navigate how to resolve chronic back pain.

Advanced Planning Helps

We cannot overstate how valuable it is to be well-prepared for surgical recovery. It doesn’t take much to ensure the short time you will spend at home recovering is less stressful, more organized, and more pleasant all-around. Some tips for planning ahead:

  • Arrange enough time off work and other obligations. You may be ready to return sooner but won’t feel the stress of urgency if you’ve scheduled more time than you think you’ll need.
  • Set up a comfortable and accessible area of the house in which you can rest undisturbed without feeling isolated. Your home recovery space should be quiet and comfortable and should have various modes of entertainment. Keeping busy helps the time go by faster.
  • Get the mundane out of the way before surgery. Do laundry, load the refrigerator with healthy, easy meals, clean the house, and take care of other chores that may preoccupy your mind when you should be recovering.

Your Road to Recovery

People often hear that they will need 6 to 8 weeks to return to normal activities after spine surgery. This can create the assumption that recovery takes 6 to 8 weeks. In reality, patients may be home and relatively sedentary for only a week or two. Within the first week, patients are up and walking a few times a day. At first, they may walk only around the house but they gradually build up stability and endurance. It is necessary to avoid bending, twisting, and lifting for at least one week after spine surgery.

It may be possible to return to a desk job after a week or two. However, posture is important to observe and protect even when sitting. It takes more time to be ready for a more strenuous job and more strenuous activities. In these instances, a surgeon will clear activities depending on the progress of healing and comfort.

When doctor’s orders are followed before and after spine surgery, the road to recovery is generally smooth. If you would like to discuss treatment for a herniated disc or neck or back pain, contact our Hamilton office at (609) 890-3400. We have additional offices in Morristown, Bridgewater, Union, and Paramus, NJ.

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