Microdiscectomy Recovery Time

Microdiscectomy, also called microdiscectomy or microdecompression, is a surgical procedure used to treat patients with herniated lumbar disc. This minimally invasive procedure involves removing portions of the herniated disc to relieve pressure from your spinal nerve column. Compared to a standard discectomy procedure, microdiscectomy has a shorter recovery time. Keep reading to find out more about microdiscectomy procedure and ways to accelerate recovery.

Microdiscectomy Recovery Time

It is important that you try to walk as soon as you recover from anaesthesia. As for microdiscectomy recovery time, you usually will be discharged in about 24 hours if safe mobility is confirmed by your doctor. Although full recovery time depends on your situation, it won't be long because it's a minimally invasive surgical procedure that does not cause serious damage to soft tissue and does not affect the mechanics of your spine. In most cases, you will be able to return to work in 4 weeks. It may take up to 3 months though if your job requires strenuous physical work. It is also important to use good body mechanics and work on your trunk strength to accelerate microdiscectomy recovery. You should avoid lifting, bending and twisting during the first few weeks.

How to Shorten Your Microdiscectomy Recovery Time

You can take certain steps to speed up your microdiscectomy recovery. Here are some suggestions.

1. Alleviate Pain

It is obvious and normal to experience some pain and soreness around your back incision after your surgery.

  • You will have to take oral pain medication to alleviate pain. Be sure to take your pain medication as prescribed by your doctor. If your pain mitigates, your doctor may consider decreasing the strength of your medications.
  • You can also use an icepack for pain management. Do not use it for extended period though.
  • Call your doctor immediately if you experience new weakness, wound drainage, loss of sensation in arms/back/legs, or change or loss in bladder or bowel control.

2. Care the Wound

Infections may occur after surgery, so it is important to keep an eye on your incision, especially after the surgical dressing is removed.

  • Make sure your incision looks pink and its edges are together.
  • If skin staple or special suture is used to close the skin layer, you will need to have it removed after 10 days of surgery.
  • Some swelling around your incision and fluid accumulation under the skin are normal. Call your doctor if swelling increases or you notice your incision is hot to touch, red and swollen.
  • Be sure to take sponge baths for the first week after your surgery; avoid whirlpools, tub baths, swimming pools and Jacuzzis for at least a month after your surgery to prevent infections.

3. Wear Back Brace

You may require brace treatment for some time to decrease microdiscectomy recovery time. You have to fit your corset or brace to your body's contour. You should go to a certified orthotist to have your brace fitted properly. Be sure to wear a short cotton shirt underneath your brace to prevent rubbing, pinching or excessive perspiration. You can also apply rubbing alcohol to areas of your skin that are directly in contact with the brace.

4. Resume Activities Gradually

Even when your doctor says you can return to your normal activities, be sure to go slow. Always keep the following tips in mind:

  • Be sure to get enough sleep to recover faster.
  • Walk each day and increase your distance gradually.
  • Do not push your body to limits and rest when you feel tired.
  • Do not lift anything heavy or something that make you strain. This includes milk containers, heavy grocery bags, a backpack, cat litter, a vacuum cleaner, a heavy briefcase, a child, etc.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as jogging, bicycle riding, aerobic exercise or weight lifting for the first few months.
  • Do not sit in a positing for extended time – change your position about every half an hour.
  • Avoid having sex in positions that put strain on your back or cause some sort of pain.

5. Maintain Balanced Diet

In order to shorten microdiscectomy recovery time, you also need to maintain a balanced diet.

  • It is fine to eat your normal food, but stick to bland, low-fat food like broiled chicken, plain rice, yogurt and toast if your stomach is upset.
  • Be sure to drink plenty of water and other fluids – talk to your doctor if it is okay to drink specific drinks.
  • It is also common and normal to notice irregularity in your bowel movements after surgery. Just avoid constipation and talk to your doctor about taking a fiber supplement.

6. Start Driving Again

You can sit behind the wheel as soon as your pain becomes manageable. In most cases, you are good to drive within the first week of surgery. Just do not drive while on pain medicine. Also, start slow and ensure that you do not experience any pain while sitting in a driving position. Besides, do not drive a car for more than half an hour for the first couple of weeks.

When to Call a Doctor

If you want to shorten your microdiscectomy recovery time, you should pay close attention to your incision, take proper medications and accept physical therapy. Even so accidents may happen. You should contact your doctor immediately if:

  • You experience tingling or numbness in your fingers or hands.
  • You have weakness in your hand, arm or legs.
  • You notice persistent swelling and redness around your incision.
  • You notice the edges of your incision coming apart.
  • You experience drainage from your incision.
  • You have pain and fever over 101°F.
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