Early Exercise Will Lead to Speedy Healing Following Disc Surgery

If you have had a microdiscectomy—surgery to alleviate sciatica or sciatic nerve pain caused by a herniated disc—a postoperative regimen that includes exercise can help speed your return to a normal, active life.

In the past, patients were advised to limit their movements for up to six weeks after microdiscectomy surgery to avoid re-injury. However, the way we think about this has changed in recent years. Experts now suggest that introducing an appropriate early exercise program that includes stretching, strengthening, and conditioning may help patients heal sooner and minimize scar tissue formation.

Generally, patients are advised to exercise for one hour each day, usually in shorter segments rather than all at once. A therapeutic exercise program often includes walking, usually within the first two to four days after returning home. Most patients start by walking a short distance daily, gradually increasing to about three miles daily.

Let pain be our guide. You should expect discomfort after an exercise session, especially in the leg or buttocks. This can be relieved with over-the-counter analgesics and an ice pack. However, if the pain is strong, we will reduce the exercise intensity until you can handle it better.

You can probably resume most of your day-to-day activities, but avoid the common causes of disc herniation:

  • heavy lifting
  • repetitive bending or twisting
  • prolonged sitting

We can guide you to a long-term “spine” health program that includes good posture and proper body mechanics (how to bend, lift, etc.). A program that includes stretching, strengthening, and aerobic exercises can help get and keep your back healthy. However, please remember that healing could take up to a year (Web MD).

Learn more about STARS Physical Therapy Services.