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Are Any Activities Permanently Restricted Following a Microdiscectomy?


Patients are often able to return to most or all activities they enjoyed prior to having microdiscectomies with no permanent restrictions. However, getting to this point requires some important steps and precautions. Patients are advised to be cautious of anything involving sports and strenuous work-based or recreational activities. This article outlines what is commonly recommended for recovering microdiscectomy patients looking to avoid permanent restrictions.

Be Mindful of Early Recovery Recommendations

You will be more likely to fully get back to pre-surgery activities with no permanent restrictions if you stick to your initial recovery recommendations. While some post-surgery pain during the first several weeks or so after a microdiscectomy is normal, discomfort that lingers or gets worse should be discussed with your doctor. You will also have a more beneficial and productive recovery if you make an effort to:

• Attend your scheduled physical therapy sessions
• Get official doctor clearance before returning to a more strenuous job
• Regularly exercise in a safe way
• Avoid excess bed rest or inactivity
• Take your post-surgery medication as directed
• Improve your posture so you are not overstressing the affected area of your spine

Do Not Ignore Temporary Restrictions

These are the initial restrictions your doctor will discuss with you either shortly prior to your
herniated disc surgery or before you are discharged from the surgery center or hospital. The purpose of temporary restrictions is to give your spine, affected nerves, and any portion of the disc left in place time to heal. You can increase your odds of having no permanent restrictions to worry about by adhering to temporary restrictions such as:

• Not excessively bending, reaching, twisting, or stretching
• Avoiding contact sports
• Not lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds
• Avoiding exercises and workouts that overstress your spine

Take Precautions as You Shift Back to More Activities

Your surgeon may provide some additional restrictions if you push yourself a bit too much and trigger a recurrence of pre-surgery symptoms. This is less likely to happen if you take the appropriate precautions during your recovery. You might find this a bit frustrating, but it is ultimately beneficial for you, your spine, and its discs. With more physically demanding activities like sports and certain occupations, precautions typically recommended include:

• Wearing a lumbar support belt when making repetitive lower body movements
• Using properly sized and adjusted protective gear for contact sports
• Warming up properly before doing any strenuous routines related to your preferred sport(s)
• Taking breaks to give your spine time to recover from more demanding activities

Listen to Your Body

It is important to note that reherniation can still occur a year or more after surgery. At this point, most patients have no significant restrictions. Even so, you should report any out-of-the-ordinary discomfort in case reherniation may be a possibility. Pay particular attention to any of the following signs of reinjury or reherniation at any time post-surgery:

• An unusual return of pain flare-ups with certain activities
• Numbness and other nerve-based symptoms in nearby areas like the legs
• Lingering post-activity pain that does not fully go away

Although microdiscectomy surgery is generally a very successful procedure, patients with a larger hole in the outer ring of the disc have a significantly higher risk of reherniation following surgery. Often, the surgeon will not know the size of the hole until beginning surgery. A new treatment, Barricaid, was specifically designed to close the large hole often left in the spinal disc after discectomy. This treatment is done immediately following the discectomy—during the same operation—and does not require any additional incisions or time in the hospital. In a large-scale study, 95 percent of Barricaid patients did not undergo a reoperation due to reherniation in the 2-year study timeframe. 

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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