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Is Elliptical Use Okay Following a Microdiscectomy?


Microdiscectomy surgery is a common procedure that involves the removal of a small portion of a damaged disc in the spine. This type of surgery is often recommended for individuals who suffer from chronic back pain or sciatica due to herniated discs. After undergoing this surgery, many patients wonder about the type of exercise they can safely perform to aid their recovery. One question that frequently comes up is whether they can use an elliptical machine. This article explores whether it is safe to use an elliptical after microdiscectomy surgery.

Understanding Microdiscectomy Surgery

Before delving into whether it is safe to use an elliptical after microdiscectomy surgery, it is important to understand the nature of the procedure. Microdiscectomy surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that involves removing a small portion of the herniated disc to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves. This procedure, which is a less invasive form of a traditional discectomy, typically involves a small incision and a short recovery time.

While microdiscectomy surgery is considered safe and effective, it is important to follow your doctor's instructions regarding postoperative care. This may include avoiding certain activities or exercises that could strain the back or cause additional injury.

Benefits of Using an Elliptical Machine

An elliptical machine is a low-impact cardiovascular exercise machine designed to simulate the motion of walking or running. It is a popular choice for individuals looking for a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints. Using an elliptical machine can offer several benefits, including:

  • Low-impact exercise – An elliptical machine is designed to be gentle on the joints, making it a great option for individuals with back pain or other joint issues
  • Improved cardiovascular health – Regular use of an elliptical machine can boost cardiovascular health by increasing heart rate and oxygen consumption
  • Full-body workout – Using an elliptical machine engages several muscle groups, including the legs, core, and arms, making it a great option for a full-body workout

Safety Factors to Consider

With this understanding of the benefits of using an elliptical machine, the next step is to explore whether it is safe to use after microdiscectomy surgery. The short answer is that it depends on your individual circumstances and the advice of your doctor.

In general, it is recommended that patients wait at least four weeks before engaging in any exercise or physical activity after microdiscectomy surgery. During this time, it is important to rest and allow the body to heal. After the initial recovery period, patients may gradually begin to engage in light exercise, such as walking or gentle stretching.

Before using an elliptical machine, consult with your doctor to ensure it is safe for you to do so. Your doctor may recommend waiting a few additional weeks before using an elliptical machine, or he or she may suggest alternatives, such as specific exercises for sciatic nerve pain, that are better suited to your individual needs.

If your doctor approves the use of an elliptical machine, start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your workout over time. It is also important to listen to your body and stop exercising if you experience any pain or discomfort.

Tips for Using an Elliptical Machine After Microdiscectomy Surgery

If you have been given the green light to use an elliptical machine after microdiscectomy surgery, there are a few tips that can ensure a safe and effective workout:

  • Start slowly – Begin at a low intensity and gradually increase the resistance and speed over time. Give your body time to adjust and to avoid overexertion, which could lead to further injury or setbacks in your microdiscectomy recovery.
  • Monitor your posture – Maintaining proper posture is crucial to prevent additional strain on your back. Keep your back straight and engage your core muscles. It may be helpful to keep your shoulders relaxed and avoid leaning forward or backward while using the machine.
  • Listen to your body – Stop exercising if you experience any pain or discomfort. Pain is your body's way of telling you something is wrong, and it is important to take it seriously. Do not push through the pain or ignore it, as this could lead to further injury.
  • Use the handles – Some elliptical machines have handles that can be used to engage the upper body. Using the handles can distribute the workload more evenly throughout the body and reduce strain on the lower back.
  • Warm up and cool down – Before and after your workout, it is essential to warm up and cool down. This can prepare your muscles for exercise and reduce the risk of injury. Try incorporating some light stretching before and after your workout to loosen up your muscles.
  • Stay hydrated – Staying hydrated is crucial during any workout, especially when using an elliptical machine. Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout to keep your body hydrated and maintain optimal performance.
  • Take breaks – It is important to take breaks during your workout if you start to feel fatigued. Listen to your body and rest if you need to. You can also consider breaking up your workout into shorter sessions throughout the day to prevent fatigue.
  • Consider professional assistance – If you are unsure about using an elliptical machine after microdiscectomy surgery or need guidance on proper form and technique, consider working with a certified personal trainer or physical therapist. These professionals can create a safe and effective exercise plan tailored to your individual needs and goals.

Using an elliptical machine after microdiscectomy surgery can be a safe and effective way to boost cardiovascular health and aid in recovery. However, it is essential to consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program and to follow his or her recommendations regarding postoperative care. 

Even though microdiscectomy 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 reinjure themselves by having what is known as a reherniation. These 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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