Discectomy Pain

Back to Work: How Soon Is Too Soon?

Three weeks after my first back surgery in 2010, I had convinced myself that everything had gone smoothly and that I was ready to return to work.  After all, the swelling and inflammation had gone done considerably and I was starting to feel like my old self.

As I sat back in my once comfy office seat, it didn’t take long to realize that the old habits that had twisted my back into a knot would return to do the same if I didn’t make some adjustments.  The first adjustment would be mental.  I had to tell myself that I wasn’t rehabilitated yet and that office work could wait.  Luckily, I had an employer that was very supportive and allowed for flextime so that I could work PT in the office and the rest of the time at home.  This gave me an extra month to let the scar tissue and alignment issues settle down.

So when is it too soon to begin work again?  A recent study presented at American Association of Neurological Surgeons Annual Meeting, finds that on average people who were working before a single layer lumbar discectomy were able to return to work in 67 days post surgery.

Though my personal opinion is that it’s different for everybody and that you’ll need to really stay in tune with your body.  I know that doesn’t help much but setting an unrealistic recovery schedule might just drag you right back to the operating table.  Alberta Health Services has some common sense tips on what to do when you do decide to get back to the 9-5.  The most important in my opinion would be to not sit for too long.  Stand up and do some light stretching or if possible, go for frequent short walks to keep blood flowing to the back.  These little preventative measures have made a huge difference in the productivity and quality of the office life.


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