Find a physician

How Soon Can You Return to Work Following Herniated Disc Surgery?


When herniated disc surgery is a certainty, it's common to request time off from work to heal and recover. At the same, it’s also understandable to want a general idea of how much time you'll need to take off. It's equally important to know how to effectively and safely get back to your work-related activities and duties effectively and safely post-procedure. We address these topics below to give you a better idea of what to keep in mind with your return to work after herniated disc surgery.

The Nature of Your Work

This is one of the key factors that will determine how long you’ll be off work after having disc surgery, such as a
microdiscectomy. If you have a desk job or one that involves lighter or nonphysical duties you can do from home, you should be able to get back to work within 1–2 weeks after surgery. On the other hand, it could be several weeks or somewhere within the 1–2 month range before you're able to resume work if you have a more physically demanding job. Generally, this includes work involving:

• Bending, reaching, and other strenuous movements
• Lifting fairly heavy objects on a regular basis
• Doing repetitive motions involving extra stress on your spine
• Driving and similar activities that could put too much stress on your healing spine

The Flexibility of Your Job

Another factor to consider with how much time to expect to need off from work is the flexibility of your job. If it's possible to be given lighter or less physically demanding duties, you may be able to get back to work within a few weeks or so after your disc surgery. But if there's not much flexibility with your occupation as far as duties and responsibilities go, it’s best to wait until you're given the okay by your physician to get back to work.

Boosting Productivity by Taking Appropriate Time Off

Avoiding the temptation to rush back to work prematurely does more than reduce your risk of reinjury or reherniation. It could also result in a boost in productivity, due to a lower chance of pain-related distractions on the job. What’s more, being patient with your recovery has the potential to contribute to:

• A reduced need to take time off for disc-related pain
• A greater ability to concentrate and focus on your work
• Less reliance on medications that could affect your ability to safely do certain work-related activities

Preparing for Time Off from Work

If there's not an immediate need to have surgery for your herniated disc, you may be able to make your time off from work less of a burden. You may be able to do this by scheduling your surgery in the summer or during a time of year when your particular industry isn't usually as busy. Ultimately, it's best to do what's appropriate for your specific situation. 

Recovery time for back surgery procedures such as discectomies 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’s a new treatment available. Barricaid is a bone-anchored device shown to reduce reherniation risk by closing the hole in the disc after a microdiscectomy, and 95 percent of Barricaid patients didn’t undergo a reoperation due to reherniation in the 2-year study timeframe. This treatment is done immediately following the discectomy—during the same operation—and doesn’t 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.

For full benefit/risk information, please visit: