Discectomy

WHAT IS DISCECTOMY? HOW SOON CAN YOU TRAVEL BY CAR AFTER DISCECTOMY? HOW SOON CAN YOU RETURN TO EXERCISE AND SPORT? HOW SOON CAN YOU TRAVEL BY PLANE AFTER DISCECTOMY?

Discectomy is a surgery to remove lower back herniated disc that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord. This surgery tends to be done as microdiscectomy, which uses a special microscope to view the disc and nerves. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lumbar-decompression-surgery/what-happens/

HOW SOON CAN YOU TRAVEL BY CAR AFTER DISCECTOMY?

When discharged from hospital, generally you go home in a car. It is best to maintain an upright position for your spine whilst getting into the car and throught the journey home. Avoid being in a car for more than 20-30 minutes in the first 6 weeks. Thereafter, you can travel by car as tolerated, but whenever possible, it is advisable to break up long journeys with frequent stops every 30 minutes so that you can get out of the car and walk around.

HOW SOON CAN YOU RETURN TO EXERCISES AND SPORT?

After surgery, you will be seen by the physiotherapist who will advise you on post-surgical activities and exercises. The physiotherapist will aim to help you to gain full range of motion, strength and flexibility to maximize your physical and emotional recovery of surgery. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/physiotherapy/

Starting exercises after surgery varies depending on your general health, fitness, your preoperative condition and limitations. Listed below is a guide to the appropriate length of time before you may return to sporting activities after discectomy and disc replacement or fusion:

  • Pilates – 8 weeks
  • Yoga – 12 weeks
  • Swimming (Not breast stroke) – 6 weeks
  • Very light gym weights – 8+ weeks (discectomy and disc replacement) & 10 weeks (fusion)
  • Static cycling – 6 – 8 weeks
  • Normal cycling – 12 weeks
  • Tennis, running, badminton, golf and contact sports – 3 months

HOW SOON CAN YOU TRAVEL BY PLANE AFTER DISCECTOMY?

If the journey cannot be avoided, for example, if its an emergency, you can travel immediately wearing hospital stockings. However, whenever possible, avoid short flights travel for 6 weeks and long-haul flights for 12 weeks. This is to minimise the risk of developing deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolus, delaying travel by plane by 6 weeks (short flights travel) and 12 weeks (long-haul flights) also decrease low back pain which is particularly worse on sitting after lumbar discectomy and fusion and this travel delay allows initial physiotherapy treatments and advice before traveling.

Whenever possible, have extra leg room while traveling and change position from sitting every 20 – 30 minutes to get up and move around for few minutes.

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