If you’ve had surgery to correct back pain due to a herniated disc, you’re likely wondering how long it will be before you can safely return to work. The growing trend toward minimally invasive surgeries and techniques means you likely won’t have to endure a great deal of time off the job. However, your downtime may vary based on the type of surgery involved and the type of work you do.
Open Back Surgery
Open surgery to remove the damaged part of a disc, or the herniation, involves trauma to supporting muscles and other tissues, which means a longer recovery time. It also depends on the type of open procedure you have. A lumbar laminectomy involves the removal of part of a vertebral bone to relieve nerve compression, while a discectomy removes the damaged part of the disc only.
The average hospital stay for an open procedure is about 4 to 5 days. Because healing and recovery takes longer, it may be about 4 to 6 weeks or more before you can return to work. It could even be several months before you can go back to a more physically demanding job.
Minimally Invasive Surgery
Performed under local anesthesia, minimally invasive surgeries to treat herniated discs involve smaller incisions, which reduces scarring, and little or no disruption to nearby soft tissues and joints. The offending disc material is removed through the use of special instruments and a small camera attached to a tube called an endoscope.
Some minimally invasive procedures, such as microdecompression, are outpatient procedures, and others require only an overnight stay. Physical therapy can start much sooner because there is less time needed for healing, so you may be able to return to work in about a week. For physically demanding occupations, you’ll have to wait until you’re fully recovered, which could take a month or so after spinal surgery.
Recovery times for surgeries can vary based on many different factors. Schedule an in-person consultation with Dr. Bae and his team at The Spine Institute to see what your options are. Call 310-828-7757 today and take the first steps toward a pain-free life.