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After Disc Replacement Surgery and Recovery

Below is a list of frequent questions that patients ask after disc replacement surgery.

When will I feel pain relief?
A few lucky patients will feel immediate relief from their painful symptoms after the surgery has been completed, but for most people it will take weeks to months. Gradually over the weeks following surgery most patients are able to reduce or completely eliminate pain medications from their daily routine.

How long will I need to stay in the hospital?
The extent of you hospital stay will depend on how quickly you recover after your surgery. After disc replacement surgery most patients will be given clearance to return home by the third day. Complications that arise during or after surgery or excessive amounts of pain may prolong your stay by an extra day or two.

When can I expect to be back on my feet again?
Disc replacement recovery occurs rather quickly in most people and you can expect to be walking the same day of your surgery. For some people the recovery can be as quick as within a few hours of the surgery. In the beginning you will need to be careful about how you are moving, you will need to avoid extending your back until you have healed a little further. Most patients will not require a back brace after disc replacement surgery.

Are there activity guidelines that I should be following once I return home?
Once you have been discharged from the hospital and have returned home it should be safe for you to resume normal activities such as sitting, walking, driving, and even riding a bicycle. If there are any concerns about this, be sure that you raise them with your doctor before leaving the hospital. During the initial first month of your recovery you should be lifting no more then 8 – 10 pounds.

Will my recovery be monitored after I am discharged from the hospital?
You will need to continue to visit with your surgeon for follow-ups once you have left the hospital. You surgeon will have x-rays taken so they can monitor your healing progress and be certain that the implant is still in the proper position. During these follow up appointments your surgeon will also let you know when you can expect to return to work. Returning to work is dependent on the specific situation, your occupation will play a key deciding factor on when you will be fit enough to re-enter the work force.

After Disc Replacement – Recovery

Your initial disc replacement recovery will be quite similar to other surgeries that take an anterior approach to the lumbar spine. In comparison to spinal fusion surgery it is quite possible that your recovery may be considerably quicker. It is important to understand that all patients recover at their own pace and it may take you more time than someone else.

The materials that are use in the artificial disc replacement surgery are quite similar to other replacement surgeries (hip and knee) and are designed so they don’t cause sensitivities once implanted in the body.

During your hospital stay you will see a physical therapist each day that will help you understand the best ways for you to move without putting extra stress on your back. Understanding how to perform your daily activities without injuring yourself is a key aspect of a quick recovery.

Your therapist will provide you with a list of exercises and activities that you will need to continue once you are home that will help you regain some of your lost motion and spinal function. For best results it is important that you continue walking and following the therapists’ program on a daily basis once you are home; You play an active role in your recovery.

The most important thing to know about your artificial disc replacement recovery is you have the right to ask questions and get answers you are confident in. If you feel like something is wrong, do not hesitate; raise your concerns with your doctor. Even if nothing is wrong, peace of mind will relieve some of your post surgery anxieties and let you focus on your recovery.

*Note* The internet is a great place to find helpful information, but it should never replace the advice you get from a trained medical professional that has full access to your medical case history.