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How Soon Can You Return to Work Following a Microdiscectomy?


10.24 - How-Long-Are-You-Off-Work-After-a-Microdiscectomy

A microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive procedure, which means you should typically not have to worry about a lengthy recovery. However, a microdiscectomy is still a spinal procedure, so you do need to take it easy when you are beginning to return to your normal daily routine, including work. This article explains what to keep in mind when determining how much time to take off from work after a microdiscectomy.

Expect to Return Sooner to Less Demanding Jobs

If your job primarily involves working on a computer or sitting at a desk, you should be able to return to work a week or so after a
microdiscectomy. Just be careful about how much time you spend sitting or staying in the same position. Failing to move regularly or get enough exercise can weaken spine-supporting muscles, which can put more pressure on the healing spinal disc. The result could be an increase in discomfort that makes it difficult to fully recover in a shorter time.

With less physically demanding jobs, try to allow at least two weeks off to heal before physically going into an office. However, you should be able to do some of your work from home, if possible, during your first week post-surgery.

Allow More Time for More Physically Demanding Jobs

If your occupation is more physically demanding and involves a lot of lifting, bending, and other movements that can contribute to reinjury or reherniation, you may need to take as much as 2–3 months off from work. Plan for at least 4–6 weeks if your job is not too physically demanding but still involves actions and movements such as:

• Climbing stairs on a regular basis
• Bending and lifting items
• Traveling to various worksites in company vehicles
• Walking around on rougher terrain (e.g., worksites that tend to have uneven ground and other obstacles)
• Driving specialized vehicles
• Using jackhammers and other machinery that can be too jarring for a healing spine

Plan Your Return to Work Post-Surgery

No matter what type of job you will be returning to following a microdiscectomy, take time to talk to your doctor or spine surgeon about how long you should take to recover before returning to work. Make sure to be as descriptive as possible about your job duties. 

Your physical therapist can also help you get back to work safely following a microdiscectomy by adjusting your routine based on what you do for a living. Additional steps you can take as you get back to work post-surgery include:

• Working with an occupational therapist
• Setting small achievable goals for how you return to work and assume your full range of duties
• Using lumbar support devices and cushions
• Pacing yourself as much as possible as you get back to work (e.g., modifying your routine if it is possible to do so)
• Reporting any unusual pain or increase in symptoms as you get back to work

Recovery time for back surgery procedures such as microdiscectomies varies among individuals and depends on factors such as whether the patient has a large hole in the outer ring of the disc after surgery. If the hole in the disc is larger than a standard pencil eraser, the patient has a significant risk of experiencing a reherniation, which often requires additional surgery. Fortunately, there is a new treatment available. Barricaid is a bone-anchored device shown to reduce reherniation risk by closing the hole in the disc after a discectomy or microdiscectomy, 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, you may ask your doctor or contact us at 844-288-7474.

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