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Thoughts on Returning to Work After Surgery

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Old 02-03-2005, 07:25 AM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 93
dckatz2001 HB User
Thoughts on Returning to Work After Surgery

How long are people usually home from work after back surgery? I know the time varies by person and procedure but I'm wondering if there's an average? I had a two level TLIF surgery on January 5 of this year. My doctor originally told me I would be home for six weeks. I am planning to return to work on February 21 but I'm not sure I'll be ready by then. I was thinking I would go back part-time for the first week so I could build up my stamina. I work as a Systems Administrator and my job is fairly light duty.

I am doing pretty well now. I stopped using my walker at the week and a half mark. I am still wearing my back brace about half of the day. I can do everything for myself including putting on my own shoes and socks (which I originally thought I'd never be able to do, lol). I still have pain, the worst of which is in the morning when I first get out of bed. It takes me a long time to get up in the morning. I am 28 years old and this is my second back surgery. My first was a discectomy in 1999.

Any thoughts on this are appreciated.

Thank you.


Last edited by dckatz2001; 02-03-2005 at 07:26 AM.

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Old 02-03-2005, 08:05 AM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Pennsylvania
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Jessie1 HB User
Re: Thoughts on Returning to Work After Surgery

Hi! I'm 24, and I also had a 2-level TLIF done on Jan. 5. This was my second back surgery (I had a discectomy in March 2004). I also ditched my walker around the 10 day mark, and can do everything for myself I need to do. I'm doing so well that my doctor released me to drive short distances and start working part-time (I teach horseback riding) at my two-week follow-up. He did tell me that it was unusual for him to do that, he usually makes people wait until at least the 8 week mark. I am still required to wear my brace all the time unless I'm in bed, and I'll have to wear it for at least another 4 weeks. When I'm at work, I make sure that I have a chair to sit in while I teach, and I can get up and walk around whenever I need to. There's also a room I can go to and lay down if I need to. I have pretty much no pain at all, but I am much stiffer in the mornings.

Make sure you take it slow, and you may want to go back part-time for more than the week you have planned. It's surprising what can wear you out. I get worn out and my back gets tired really quickly, even on the lightened schedule I've got right now. Good luck, and keep us posted on how you're doing!


Last edited by Jessie1; 02-03-2005 at 08:06 AM.

Old 02-03-2005, 10:01 AM   #3
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Location: Dallas, Texas
Posts: 764
Rhonni HB User
Re: Thoughts on Returning to Work After Surgery

I think a lot depends on your state of mind also. I have been off work since June, lost my job through all this and just got an offer today for a new job. I have to say, I'm quite nervous about going back to work, but am ready physically and frankly, it will probably do me a lot of good.

My doctor had told me I'd be out 12-16 weeks if I remember correctly. I was cleared to go back the first of Jan, but since I didn't have a job, it's not been an issue.

Old 02-03-2005, 11:27 AM   #4
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Location: Apex, NC
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whackedback HB Userwhackedback HB Userwhackedback HB User
Re: Thoughts on Returning to Work After Surgery

DC -

I had a 1 level lumbar laminectomy the last week of December and returned to work 4 weeks later. I should have taken another week off, but I was going stir crazy at home. I would suggest that for at least the first week, you consider going in half days only.

Believe it or not, just sitting there, straight up in a chair for 4-6 hours can make you tired. Not only are you healing from your surgery, you are also getting your stamina back.


Old 02-07-2005, 08:44 AM   #5
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 93
dckatz2001 HB User
Re: Thoughts on Returning to Work After Surgery

Thanks everyone for the replies. I really appreciate everyone taking the time to respond.


Old 02-07-2005, 03:08 PM   #6
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Ft. Worth
Posts: 521
myspine HB User
Re: Thoughts on Returning to Work After Surgery

Hi there
after my fusion I went back in 4 weeks full time , lots of walking and stuff. We can not post our jobs and such. Anyway it was somewhat difficult, but you sound as though you are doing well. Take it slow and listen to your doctor and your body. Good luck, look forward to hearing your success.

Old 02-07-2005, 07:34 PM   #7
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: St. Petersburg, FL, USA
Posts: 55
MikeZ HB User
Re: Thoughts on Returning to Work After Surgery

I had a 360 fusion with allograft (someone's femur) and autograft (my illiac crest) in mid-November and now 12 weeks later, I'm still not back at work. I chased every manner of treatment for four years before going with the fusion and my surgeon says I waited too long. I'm still having loads of pain, especially with the illiac graft and my right leg. Both my surgeon and pain mgt doc are adamant that I stay off of work. Having been at my job for 20 years and having a good short term disability plan (yeah, once MetLife moves off dead center and cuts a check), I can fortunately take it easy, which besides PT and walking/exercise goals, both docs want me taking it slow and taking the time to recover. My surgeon is telling me a six-month leave wouldn't be unusual.

Old 02-07-2005, 08:23 PM   #8
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mel1977 HB User
Re: Thoughts on Returning to Work After Surgery

I was out three months for my micro d, and so far going on month two after my two level fusion. I think three months is average for any surgery, back or otherwise. Well, let's say; I was out three months after I broke my leg and had surgery, and so on. A lot may depend on what kind of work you do as well. My jobs have required me to be on my feet and lift. This time around I am not doing that, but still need more time off. SO, three months average is my vote. Biggest thing is to listen to your body and dr.

Old 02-08-2005, 05:47 PM   #9
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 31
aprilfoolgirl HB User
Re: Thoughts on Returning to Work After Surgery

I started back yesterday at 4 weeks after a posterior double fusion. I felt strong from the first day post op and it felt good to return. For the next few weeks I will work only half days. I sit alot at my job so found a reclining chair and have people help me reach things I can't bend to get. Good luck!

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