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How Soon Can You Bend after a Discectomy?


The goal with a discectomy is to make it easier to do what you usually do without significant discomfort. This includes basic actions like bending. While it is best not to do anything that could overstress your healing spine immediately after having a discectomy, most patients are able to do more physically demanding movements as they recover. This article discusses when patients are typically able to bend after discectomy surgery.

Avoid Bending during the First Few Weeks Post-Surgery

The recommendations for activity limitations vary slightly based on how a discectomy is performed. Even with a less invasive
microdiscectomy, a patient is typically reminded to avoid bending and similar motions during the initial recovery period. This refers to the first few weeks after surgery and applies to any activities or actions that may require bending, including:

• Routine bending to perform household tasks
• Bending when tying shoes or performing similar tasks
• Any bending that may be associated with work-related obligations

According to
Spine Health, bending a few weeks after having a discectomy performed with less invasive techniques may not increase the risk of reinjury or reherniation. However, research suggesting this may be the case is limited. Therefore, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid bending for the first 2–3 weeks or so post-surgery unless your doctor says otherwise.

Bending Can Usually Be Resumed Approximately Six Weeks Post-Surgery

Approximately six weeks or so after your discectomy, you should be able to start bending again. This is when most activities can be resumed as well. Part of the reason is because this is also around the point when some doctors advise patients to begin physical therapy programs, although patients are sometimes given the go-ahead to start physical therapy prior to the six-week mark.

Follow Your Doctor's Advice

Every patient has a unique experience with discectomy surgery, so follow any specific advice your doctor or surgeon gives you regarding bending and similar movements. It is equally important to take proper precautions when you become more flexible and start bending as part of your regular routine. This is something you can do by:

• Using proper lifting techniques (e.g., lifting with your legs and not your back)
• Reporting any sudden or unusual pain you feel as you bend
• Wearing a lumbar support device to ease stress on your spine and discs as you bend

Take Steps to Prepare Your Healing Spine

Doing gentle stretches (such as
sciatica stretches) once you are given the green light to do exercises of this nature is one way you can safely get back to bending and similar actions. This increases range of motion and flexibility so bending doesn't overstress soft tissues around the surgery location. It can also be helpful to:

• Not bend excessively when you start bending again
• Maintain good posture as you bend
• Actively participate in your physical therapy routine to strengthen spine-supporting muscles

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 didn’t 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 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, ask your doctor or contact us at 844-288-7474.


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