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Will I Be Able to Walk Up Stairs After Having a Discectomy?


2.6 - Can-You-Walk-Up-Stairs-After-Discectomy-Surgery

Having part or all of a herniated disc removed will require adequate time to recover. Your body, especially the muscles that support the spine, will be healing, and you need to be careful about returning to your normal level of activity too soon to avoid the risk of reherniation. This article explains what you should know about going up and down stairs while recovering after discectomy surgery.

Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions

It is important to follow your surgeon’s advice about the activities you should avoid or only do on a restricted basis immediately after your discectomy. Your doctor will likely recommend only careful, limited movement after surgery. For some patients, climbing stairs may be restricted for a week or two, while others may be able to go up and down stairs a few times a day for the first two weeks.

For the first day or two, it may be a good idea to have someone close by to help you walk up and down the stairs to ensure your comfort and stability. As you get more comfortable, you may be able to climb stairs more often.

Get Rest but Get Moving Too

You may be tempted to take it easy after your discectomy, and to some extent, this is what you should do. However, along with getting the proper amount of restful sleep, it is also important to move your body on a regular basis to keep your blood circulating so your body can heal as quickly as possible.

While rest is essential, regular low-impact movement is crucial for healing. Most patients can start taking short walks a day or so after discectomy surgery. During this initial period of recovery, it is best to walk only on flat surfaces, such as sidewalks and floors, and avoid walking on uneven or sloping terrain. If you feel unsteady or are experiencing leg or lower back pain, you may benefit from using a cane or walker.

Be Patient and Do Not Overdo It

Many people are anxious to get back to their normal activities as soon as possible after surgery, but it is important to remember that recovering fully can take several weeks or a few months, even if the procedure involved minimally invasive techniques such as those used to perform microdiscectomies. If you try to resume your regular activities too soon, you could delay your recovery or even cause damage to your healing spine.

In addition to being patient, you should be cautious about not overdoing it. Although it may seem easy to go up and down stairs immediately after your surgery, the climbing motion could put excessive stress on your spine and set back your recovery. 

Take It One Step at a Time

If your doctor says you can climb stairs right away, make sure to start slowly, and always use the handrail. The following tips can help you safely navigate stairs after your surgery.

Walking up stairs:

  • Take the stairs one step at a time
  • If one leg is more painful or weaker than the other, step up with the “good leg” and then bring the other leg up to meet it on the same step
  • Do not pull yourself up with the handrail—instead, keep your arm by your side and push down on the handrail as you step up

Walking down stairs:

  • Again, take it one step at a time
  • As you go down the stairs, lead with your weaker or more painful leg
  • Step down with your “bad leg” and then bring your other leg down to meet it on the same step

Above all, listen to what your body tells you. As you gradually get back to your usual activities, it will be normal to have some level of discomfort. However, if you experience a dramatic increase in pain, your body may be signaling that you need to proceed at a slower pace. 

Even though discectomy surgery is a common and generally quite successful procedure, a hole is frequently left in the outer wall of the disc. In fact, patients with these large holes in their discs are more than twice as likely to reherniate. Reherniations often require additional surgery or even fusions. Fortunately, there is a new treatment specifically designed to close the large holes that are often left in spinal discs after discectomy surgery. Barricaid is a bone-anchored device proven to reduce reherniations, and 95 percent of Barricaid patients did not undergo a reoperation due to reherniation in a 2-year study timeframe. This treatment is done immediately following the discectomy—during the same operation—and does not require any additional incisions or time in the hospital. 

If you have any questions about the Barricaid treatment or how to get access to Barricaid, ask your doctor or contact us at 844-288-7474.

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