It’s a double-edged sword. Your back pain is keeping you from doing the things you love, but you don’t want to have surgery to fix it because you’re afraid recovery will be long, and put you out of commission. It’s the number one concern we hear at our lumbar spine specialty practice in New Jersey.
The good news is that as a result of innovations in surgical technique, the procedures that correct herniated disks and other problems with the spine are minimally invasive, which means that most patients are able to walk out of our surgical site on the same day as their procedure, and return to their daily activities – including hobbies and sports – in much less time than they anticipate.
Whether your concern is getting back to your golf game, going for a bike ride or just being able to walk the dog, the tiny incisions that are used to access the spine and the laparoscopic and microscopic tools that we use mean that your tissue and muscles endure much less trauma and you will heal far more quickly than was possible in previous years. Surgery time is also shorter, and this means less risk and less pain.
Though every patient is different and goes into surgery at varying levels of health, it is safe to say that you have little to fear from minimally invasive spinal surgery. From professional athletes to weekend warriors, your body will heal quickly and you should be able to return to your previous level of activity with the added bonus of no longer being in pain.
If you want to take action to improve your recovery time prior to surgery, the first thing you need to do is to honestly assess your current state of health. Patients who smoke should try to quit, or at the very least cut back on the amount of smoking that they are engaging in. Overweight patients will put themselves ahead of the game if they lose a few pounds, and all patients will benefit from minimizing use of alcohol and getting some exercise prior to surgery.
Our lumbar spine specialty practice in New Jersey will assess your health so that we are aware of all medications and medical conditions prior to surgery and are able to advise you about any concerning interactions and contraindications.
If you want an idea of roughly how long it will take you to return to normal activity after surgery, here are some guidelines:
- Most patients undergoing surgery for a herniated disk should expect to limit their activity for the first week, then to work with a physical therapist on a few moderate exercises. More strenuous moves such as lifting and bending are generally allowed after 4 weeks and twisting after 8 weeks.
- Patients undergoing more invasive surgeries, such as fusions, should expect to need a bit more time for recovery, particularly for twisting motions. Straight-ahead exercises like using an elliptical trainer or running or swimming are usually possible within four to six weeks of surgery.
If you’d like to discuss your own situation and what you can expect from lumbar spine surgery, contact our office today for a consultation.