Recovering After Back Surgery

A herniated disc in your back can cause serious pain. As tissue from the disc presses against nerves, it can cause radiating, debilitating pain. To repair the disc, a surgeon will remove part of the tissue. This often requires drilling through the vertebrae in order to expose the disc. Once you relieve the pressure on your nerves, you will want to do everything that you can to help the disc heal so that you don't have to worry about re-injury. 

Pain Management

Your doctor will prescribe medication to help you cope with pain directly after surgery. Typically, you will have opioids or narcotics. Be careful when taking opioids because they tend to depress your digestion system, which can lead to constipation. Furthermore, you should avoid NSAIDs or non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs will suppress bone growth, which is an important component of recovery. You want the bones to be strong so that the risk of future injury is lessened.


While you are recovering, you might want to spend as much time reclining as you can. The problem with convalescing in a supine position is that you don't get a lot of blood flow. While you should avoid excessive movement, which could aggravate your injury, you should get up and move frequently. Gradual movements will help get blood flowing without putting some strain on your back are ideal. Avoid jumping, twisting, jolting, or jerky movements. You should also avoid any activities that require you to lean forward at the hips.  


The first few months after your surgery require you to severely limit the amount of lifting you do. For the first month, you should not lift more than ten pounds. In other words, you should avoid lifting more than a full gallon of milk. For the second month, you should avoid lifting more than twenty-five pounds. After three months, you can lift as much as you want as long as you don't feel pain.    

In some cases, to repair a herniated disc, the orthopedic doctors will have to fuse two discs together in order to create stability. In other cases, they can simply remove the part of your disc that is putting pressure on your nerves. In either case, you will need to follow your doctor's guidelines very carefully in order to allow your back to recover properly. Just remember how intense and crippling the pain resulting from a herniated disc can be, and you should have no problem sticking to the restrictions of your recovery routine.