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  • How long after L5-S1 discectomy surgery can I resume activities?

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    Old 08-09-2011, 11:50 AM   #1
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    How long after L5-S1 discectomy surgery can I resume activities?

    I had a severe pain in my left leg about three months ago while traveling abroad. It started with a slight pain in left leg and then progressed from there (i am go to gym regularily 4-5days a week for some running, walking, and medium weight training). I kept on going to gym with thought that it will help to get better but within couple of weeks I was not able to sit at all. It was like someone was poking a knife in my left buttock and calf. MRI should good size Herniation of L5-S1. I went through six weeks of physical therapy and two epidurals. PT did not help but 2nd epidural helped to the Pontiac where I was able to sit. This epidural reduced my pain from 10 to 4-5. I was finally able to se a neurosurgeon and he recommended some more PT as he suggested that back surgery should be the last resort. That PT did not help either and my left leg and foot started getting numb. I was very scared of surgery as everyone said that back surgeries are almost never successful and may cause more back problems later in life. Everyone suggested against the surgery but i wanted to get rid of pain and become active again.
    Finally I went through conventional discectomy and laminactomy on August 1st 2011. My surgeon is extremely good. Incision was about 1.5 inch and surgery took about couple of hours under general anesthesia. After surgery I did not have any kind of pain (incision or sciatica). I was little sore at incision site. I was allowed to come home same afternoon. I did not take any pain killer after surgery. First week was mostly laying on bed or recliner with little walking. Today is ninth day and I walked two miles (not on treadmill) with no pain. My neurologist and neurosurgeon both said that running is a complete no no for a while. I have some numbness in my left ankle and foot but doctor thinks it will go away slowly. I feel so good that I want to go back to normal activity. My doctor thinks I can go back to normal activity in 4 weeks and I am looking forward to that. Does any one know if 4 weeks is a realistic time to go back to normal activity after L5-S1 discectomy which includes mowing, traveling for 10 to 12 hours in a car or plane, going back to gym etc. I am not allowed to sit on a straight backed chair and i am not sure why and when can i do that. Also does any one knows the chances of recurring the problem.

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    Old 08-09-2011, 02:11 PM   #2
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    re: How long after L5-S1 discectomy surgery can I resume activities?

    Sitting is one of the worst things for your spine, particularly after a disc problem. Sitting puts 30% more stress on the discs than either standing/walking or lying down.

    At the very least, you should get up about every half hour when sitting to walk a bit and give the discs a chance to recover a tad.

    Also many surgeons tend to err on the side of optimism when telling patients how soon they can return to normal activities. The real question is not whether they can return but if they should make the attempt. Reherniations most commonly occur in the first three months after I think that tells us something. Also, while the disc doesn't completely "heal" and return to normal, it does take a good six months for it to toughen up and be stronger.

    People can and do return to running after discectomy. You will need to proceed carefully and take some time to build back up to the mileage you were doing previously and you will need to learn to listen to your body. If you push too hard, you will create a flare, which can cause inflammation, which can be difficult to get to go away. Better to go slowly and carefully at the beginning and make your increases gradual.

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