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How long after L5S1 micro disectomy surgery can I resume my active life.

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Old 06-26-2011, 04:44 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2011
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dssl HB User
How long after L5S1 micro disectomy surgery can I resume my active life.

I was a very active 52 year old until a few months ago. Typical week involved hard core mountain biking 2-3 times per week , plus running 30+ miles a week.

The first symptom I had was severe lower back pain. Then I couldn't sit for more then 10 minutes, plus I had some mild weakness in my right foot. Was told not to bike , although I continued to run since that seemed to make things feel better, until about 2 weeks ago , when I decided to not run until after the surgery.

Went through the normal progression of oral steroids, then steroid injections and then this last Wednesday I had an L5/S1 micro-discectomy. Prior to the surgery my lower back was no longer hurting, so just had the S1 nerve issues.

Surgery went well. Over the last 4 days have been trying to lie down allot and trying to take it real easy. Now except for some slight tenderness around the incision site I have no symptoms(except some very minor foot weakness which seems to be improving). Also I have not needed any pain meds. So far I could not be happier with the results of the surgery.

On the one hand I don't want to resume activity too quickly and risk a set back, on the other hand I feel really good am looking forward to getting back to running and mountain biking. I will call my Neuro surgeon tomorrow and try to get some guidelines, but I was wondering if anyone has any insight/opinions on how long I should wait before I start running, and then how much longer after that I can start mountain biking again.

Thanks in advance for any input.

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Old 06-26-2011, 08:20 PM   #2
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Re: How long after L5S1 micro disectomy surgery can I resume my active life.

Welcome to the board.

In case you haven't heard this before, I will just remind you to be careful in the early recovery. Surgeons say that the biggest problem they have with patients after a discectomy is that they frequently feel so well, and are so eager to get back to the activities that they love and have missed, that they do too much too soon, and end up reherniating the disc.

The disc is most vulnerable for the first six months, although many doctors will say it is OK to resume a normal amount of activity around six weeks, or earlier....

I would consult with your surgeon as to whether he considers running and mountain biking "normal" activities that it is OK to resume. Running is jarring to the discs under the best of circumstances, let alone after one has been operated on.

Be sure to limit activities that involve bending or twisting at the waist, pushing, pulling and reaching overhead, and lifting again more than the weight limit you've been given post-surgery. If you can be patient and allow that disc to really heal up, you stand a good chance of being able to resume a more-or-less normal life. If you try to rush the process along, causing a flare, or reherniating, you run the risk of setting yourself up for a cascade of spinal problems, so, hard as it is, try to be patient.

Old 06-28-2011, 08:48 AM   #3
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Re: How long after L5S1 micro disectomy surgery can I resume my active life.

Thanks tetonteri for your thoughtful reply.

Just spoke to my Nero surgeon's assistant and got some surprising information.

Was told that again shouldn't push or lift anything heavier then 10 or 15 lbs.

Was told that I could do anything else as long as it didn't seem to be creating pain or discomfort in my back.

I asked does this include running and she said it was okay for me to run.

On the one hand I was able to run before the surgery without any problems so maybe this makes sense, but on the other this seems to contradict some other info I have read. I guess every situation is different.

As far as running it may not be as ruff on my back as you might think. I run with minimalism running shoes which causes me to run with short strides and the shock is absorbed by my feet and legs which are never locked.

My plan is to walk after work for the remainder of the week, then try a short run this weekend and stop if I feel any discomfort in my back which I don't expect.

Assuming all goes well will start adding running mileage slowly. If all goes well will try out mountain biking 4 - 5 weeks post op.

Old 06-28-2011, 09:43 AM   #4
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Re: How long after L5S1 micro disectomy surgery can I resume my active life.

Just a word of caution. I think most of us who have been through back surgeries have noticed two things: surgeons and their staff tend to be overly optimistic in the time frames, and two, how many people do you know who have had only ONE back surgery?

Keep in mind that the disc is a rather fragile part of the one spine specialist I consulted with said, the spine is the one area where the creator's design was not was great while mammals were on four legs, but when we started walking on two, the plan's flaws quickly became evident.

The discs are filled with fluid, only, unlike other parts of the body, there is no mechanism for them to be once they begin the dessication process in the 3rd decade of life, it is pretty much downhill from there. Discs do not have a source of their own blood supply so they are not replenished as happens with other parts of the body. When we engage in activities that are jarring to the spine, or things that cause impact, we may not know exactly how hard it is in the discs, BUT we do not it is not beneficial to the discs!

Obviously no one plans to stay in bed 24/7 just to protect their we all make decisions weighing the risks versus the pleasure we get from the activity.

It just seems to me that if we go through all the trouble and expense of having the surgery, we should do what we can to maximize the chances for it being successful...and not just for the short-term.

Almost every surgeon tells his/her patient, it's OK to do x,y, or z, as long as it doesn't cause any pain. The problem with this advice, is that you do not know the activity is causing pain until AFTER you've done the which point, in some cases, you've already done the when a disc reherniates!

I sound like I'm lecturing and I don't mean to. You can make any plans you want, including doing things sooner than what the surgeon is up to you. I just want to be sure you understand the issues involved and are not swayed by what the doctor says. I'm not saying ignore what your doc says. I'm just saying that from years of being on boards, it is my observation that many surgeons have little invested in how soon a patient may be returning for further surgeries! -- how many give the "if it hurts, don't do it" rule for how soon a patient can return to any given activity. They say this so that they aren't pinned down and the words don't come back to bite them if something goes awry. This does sound a bit cynical...but I just want you to think things through for yourself...and make the risk assessment for yourself.

I know of the running "style" you are describing. If you're familiar with Newton shoes, a friend of mine certifies running coaches for them and is very "involved" in the natural running movement, if I may call it that!

I think your plan sounds sensible. Just be sure to add mileage slowly. Sometimes people think from going from one mile to two isn't that big a deal!!
(I made that mistake with walking after my three-level fusion!! )

I'm sure you'll do well and will be back to the sports you love soon.

Old 06-28-2011, 04:04 PM   #5
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Re: How long after L5S1 micro disectomy surgery can I resume my active life.

I had the same surgury as you on may 2nd(25yo male). it sounds like yours went pretty well from what your saying! my recovery has seemed a little slow but then again the disc was pushing more than half way thruogh my spinal cord. I had to stay horizontal for most of the time. I wood take short walks daily(~10min) anything longer than that would make my groin/thighs/calfs cramp up on me so if I had to go any distance I'd get on my mt bike(w/ the seat all the way down) and would just make sure to keep my lower back straight and use the lower gears which was better for me pain wise. I had a couple oops too tho like carryin too much laundry at once and then I'd regret it, but nothin major.

I had the post op w/ my neuro 2weeks ago and he finally gave me a clean bill of health and my PT orders. he also said I could go back fishing(occupation) and that made me chuckle cause clearly he doesn't know how hard fishing is. I went back fishing last week tho! -but I set my own limits w/ my captian(lucky for me I'm very good at my job) I don't pick the piles, I don't move or lift 60-70lb bushells I just stand in 1 spot for ~14hrs/day shucking away. I take 3 10mg oxycodones a trip(~14hrs) just because of how much my legs hurt me now which I have to be very careful w/ while working so I dont over do it.

when do you start your PT?
def only attempt 1 new activity at a time, if something causes a flare up you want to know what caused it.

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