Whether you are anticipating undergoing microdiscectomy for a herniated disc or have just gone through the process, knowing the right follow-up behavior is essential to optimizing your recovery.
Though you may have discussed the idea of relaxing and recuperating with friends and family members, the truth is that is the exact wrong approach. It is important for you to stay mobile, though you certainly want to behave using common sense. What does this mean?
At a bare minimum, it means that you should get up and go for a walk intermittently rather than sitting around – or worse, laying around. Studies have shown that the more you move, the less likely you are to have scar tissue form, and if you engage in low impact activities like biking, walking or swimming you have a much better chance of stretching and strengthening the muscles you can return back to normal more quickly.
Each patient’s tolerance for this will be different, and before engaging in these activities you should check in with your physician for specific instructions, but in general you should start off walking for a few minutes at a time, gradually adding on until you are able to walk for between half an hour and an hour each day.
Though walking or exercise of any type may feel counterintuitive following surgery, it is important to remember that the minimally invasive approach used in microdiscectomy involves much less damage to tissues.
Tiny incisions are made in the back – usually in the lower region – and then a small microscope is used to help the surgeon to see the damaged tissue and bone and remove it. The precision of the procedure means there is less of an impact on a patient’s ability to engage in physical activity afterwards.
For patients who have already suffered chronic pain and who have likely already undergone a series of conservative measures, the idea of moving after surgery can be a scary prospect, but a study published in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders reported that those who engaged in moderate activities were able to return to work faster than those who chose a more restricted regimen.
The movements that patients are permitted should be limited to those that do not involve twisting or bending. Patients should not life anything heavier than a milk jug, and definitely should not engage in high-exertion activities such as running, shoveling, vacuuming or mowing the lawn. It is also important for patients to know that the surgery they have chosen has a 90 percent success rate, and that though their recovery begins immediately, it will be hastened by allowing themselves to get past their fear.
For more information on whether you are a candidate for microdiscectomy, or what you can expect from and following a scheduled procedure, contact our New Jersey lumbar spine specialist to set up an appoint to come in and see us.