When can I go back to work? When can I play sports again?     

 The decision to undergo surgery for your disc herniation has been made, and a date for the procedure has been set. Now, you’re more preoccupied with the recovery process than the surgery itself. The team at IGEA Brain and Spine understands this sentiment, which is why our spine specialists are happy to walk you through what to expect as you recover from disc surgery.


The recovery time you experience after surgery will be dependent on the type of surgery you have for your herniated disc and the type of job you perform. For example, a person who has a desk job will likely be able to return to work sooner than a person who has a more physically demanding job. Additionally, a patient who undergoes a minimally invasive spine surgery has a shorter recovery time than a patient who undergoes traditional open back surgery.

For many minimally invasive spine procedures, you can be back to your normal activities as quickly as 3-4 weeks after your procedure. If you engage in high-intensity work or athletic activities, your doctor may ask you to avoid these activities a few weeks longer, just to be sure that your herniated disc has healed properly. If your disc surgery requires a spine stabilization, also known as a spinal fusion, your doctor may bring you along more slowly even though you may be feeling great.


Once surgery has been performed, the road to recovery begins. It goes without saying that listening to your doctor’s instructions is the number one way to reduce recovery time after back surgery for a bulging disc or herniated disc. Your doctor will carefully outline your recovery plan and you must follow it as directed. Below are some tips to help accelerate the recovery process.

Get Plenty of Rest 

Receiving the proper amount of rest is critical to a successful recovery from herniated disc surgery. Granted, this can be difficult to achieve with the discomfort you experience but try to build a sleep schedule and stick to it. If you feel yourself drifting in the middle of the day, distract yourself with some form of entertainment. This will make it easier to get an uninterrupted night of sleep.

Commit to Physical Therapy

Surgery is not the final step in addressing herniated pain. Following your procedure, you will spend at least a few weeks of physical therapy. Therapy is designed to help your body reach optimal recovery, but it can be very difficult. Ensure your follow your therapist’s instructions as closely as possible. This can help significantly speed up your recovery time.

Drink and Eat Properly

During your recovery time, your body is going to need additional calories to fuel its healing, but these extra calories do not need to come from fatty foods and sweets. Instead, have a balanced diet in lean proteins and antioxidants in your menu to support tissue regeneration and ensure you’re receiving everything you need to heal optimally.

Avoid Smoking and Alcohol

Smoking and excessive drinking are not healthy habits for anyone, and this is especially true while recovering from an herniated or slip disc surgery. Smoking is specifically prohibited, especially if you’ve had spinal fusion surgery. Additionally, alcohol can have dangerous interactions with the pain medications you will need to take post-surgery.

Avoid Activities That May Prolong Your Recovery

Climbing stairs, lifting objects over a certain weight, or even walking too quickly before you’re ready can prolong your recovery time specially if you experience leg pain during those activities. Always err on the side of caution, and consider the use of devices such as walkers, shower seats, raised toilet seats, etc.

Take Pain Medication as Directed

Proper pain control can make it far easier to sleep, which also promotes healing. Nevertheless, some patients hesitate to take their pain medication as prescribed because they fear addiction or other issues. Ensure you take your pain medication regularly for the herniated disc pain, as directed. Wait too long, and you run the risk of waiting for a long period of time for the drug to take effect.

We’ve Got Your Back: Our Team of Spine Specialists Is Dedicated To Your Recovery

Undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disc is half the battle. The real work begins the moment you walk out of the hospital, which is why it Is so important to have a comprehensive plan for rehab and recovery. In addition to speaking with your neurosurgeon about options for surgery, be sure to inquire about timelines and guidelines for recovery. Recovering from herniated disc surgery is a team effort, as both you and your doctor are accountable for the success. The more involved you become in the process, the sooner you can return to your normal lifestyle.

Meet our team of spine specialists and contact us to discuss your pain. Schedule an appointment at any one of our seven locations throughout New York and New Jersey.

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