It really depends on what type surgery your doc decides to do. There is a recovery time for all back surgery's. It also depends on your doc. All docs do things differently. I can tell you what my recoop time is and I am sure others will also tell you their recovery time.
My surgery was a ALIF <anterior lumbar interbody fusion> I was cut on my lower abdomen. I had 2 disc fused....L4-5 and L5-S1.
My recovery, and I am a lil over 6 weeks post-op now. I could not bend,lift or twist and still cannot. Sitting was limited to 20 mins max at a time. <sitting is 1 of the worst things for back probs such as this> Could not drive for 6 weeks and wore a brace for 6 weeks. Walking is a must. You need to walk as much as you can to help the recover process. And rest and rest and rest some more ha.....I am thinking I covered all my restrictions....I may have missed something <I am tired as I type this ha> back surgery of most all kinds....is no walk in the park. For some it is easier than for others. I feel Ive been fortunate on my recovery. All people heal at different paces. I will be happy when I can once again clean my home and do other things I still cannot do. But....time is what it takes!
You asked what you could do to avoid this happening again? A lot of disc problems happen from injury. Some disc just get worn out.....they loose the filling they once had. Or should I say, after repeated injury to the disc, they get worn out. So.....avoid injury and stressing your back beyond a limit maybe? I am sure others will have other answers
Good luck to you and come back to the forum if you need to ask more questions....many people will help if they can.