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Old 01-18-2012, 04:09 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 3
granadilla HB User
new here, microdiscectomy next week

Hi everyone, I'm new here.

I'm having a microdiscectomy next week (L4L5). Does anyone have any practical advice for afterwards? Someone suggested I get a grabber tool to reach things after surgery so I don't have to lean forward. Someone else suggested a triangle-shaped pillow to put under my knees when I sleep. Do I need these things?

What else do I need and/or what else will make my life easier while I recover? My mother and sister will fly out to help me for the first two weeks, but after that I'll be on my own.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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Old 01-21-2012, 11:28 AM   #2
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Re: new here, microdiscectomy next week

Welcome to the board. I'm sorry I didn't notice your post before now. Basically you can make your life a bit easier by arranging your living area so the things you use often are available to you without having to bend over or reach high overhead. For the first six weeks or so, it is important that you do not bend or twist at the waist, reach up overhead or to the side, lift anything heavier than the weight restriction your doctor should give you (often a gallon of milk or 8 pounds) and limit the amount of time you spend sitting to about 15-20 minutes at a time. Sitting puts 30% more stress on the discs than standing/walking or lying down, so it is important that you don't settle into a chair and sit there all morning.

You will want to take several small walks every day. Walking is the most important activity for you during your recovery. It is what stretches out the spinal nerves and keeps scar tissue from attaching to the nerve as it grows in. From this point of view, it is better to take frequent short walks, even if it is just around the house, rather than one or two longer walks. Try to walk on a level, flat surface.

At the top of the page (under Post a Question) there is a "stickie" note entitled "Post-surgical tips." People have listed everything under the sun they have found helpful during recovery. I suggest you read through at least some of it. Most things you will not need, especially for a microdiscectomy, but it does give you an idea of what challenges you may face post surgery.

I personally don't see the need for a special pillow. It is convenient to have a number of regular bed pillows that you can use for various support. It is often recommended that the back patient sleep on her side, and it is helpful to have a small, flat pillow to put between the knees. This helps to maintain the proper curve in the spine. If you sleep on your back, you will need something under your the wedge that they use in medical settings like MRI, etc., but you can use a regular pillow for this purpose.

You are lucky to have help for two weeks post surgery. That should get you over the worst of it. Even with a fusion people are usually able to get along after a week or two.

Please feel free to post with any questions or concerns as you move forward with this process.

Old 01-21-2012, 06:55 PM   #3
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 3
granadilla HB User
Re: new here, microdiscectomy next week

Thanks for your reply. I read through the stickie to see what other people suggest for recovery. I'll rearrange my apartment this week or make my sister do it when she arrives.

I have chronic shin splints and calf pain (because of my back) and I'm hoping surgery gets rid of that quickly so I can take walks afterwards. Any idea if I'll be able to do hamstring and glute stretches in the first few weeks after surgery? I know I'll be doing those in PT down the road. I get stiff easily so I hope I can do stretches while I'm recovering (if that's allowed). I have a pre-op with my doc this week so I'll ask him as well. Thanks for the help!

Old 01-22-2012, 01:28 AM   #4
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Re: new here, microdiscectomy next week

So glad that I'm not the only L4-L5 sufferer with awful calf pain! Immediately post-surgery (fusion), I did not feel comfortable to lean forward to do an Achilles stretch against a wall. After the first week, I was able to stretch in bed by flexing my heels. I also found that either using a toeboard or hanging a heel off a stair to stretch was helpful. Have a physical therapist or a doctor show you how (pre-surgery) if you are unfamiliar. The stair stretch allows you to keep your back straight while getting an extra stretch through calf. Good luck!

Old 01-22-2012, 05:58 PM   #5
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 3
granadilla HB User
Re: new here, microdiscectomy next week

Hi SweetPea. Yes, I know how to do those stretches, thank you! I can't wait for surgery. I just got back from a walk and it was awful. The pain was so bad that I was walking incredibly slowly and limping and I couldn't go very far at all. Sigh. I'm used to being active and strong so this is killing me. I've been dealing with pain for 7 years and have still managed to be active until now. Hopefully surgery will fix this.

I hope your calf pain has gotten better since your surgery. It's sure not fun.

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