What to Expect after Your Lumbar Microdiscectomy
A lumbar microdiscectomy is back surgery to remove a herniated disc that is putting pressure on a nerve root. The pressure put on the nerve root can cause leg pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness.
Things to Remember
- It is very important to follow your activity restrictions.
- Do not lift more than 10 pounds (about 1 gallon of milk) until you are told that you may lift more. Be conscious of how much things weigh.
- No pushing or pulling.
- No bending or twisting.
- Sit for only short periods of time; get up and move around.
Your pain should slowly lessen after surgery. As this occurs, you will need less narcotic pain medicine. You can then take non-narcotic medicines to relieve your pain. All pain pills should be taken with food and at least 8 ounces of water.
Use ice on your lumbar area to reduce pain. Apply ice only 20 minutes per hour.
What to do for Constipation
Do not take any fiber or stool softener on the morning of surgery.
You may begin taking a stool softener two days before surgery. Take docusate with senna with at least 8 ounces of water. This will help to prevent constipation.
When you are ready to go home, you may take docusate with senna twice a day while you are on the narcotic pain medicine. If you do not have a bowel movement within two days or beyond your normal routine, take Milk of Magnesia®(6 teaspoons two to three times a day) until you have a bowel movement. Use food like prunes or prune juice instead of the Milk of Magnesia®. Be sure to drink several 8- ounce glasses of water or juice daily. This ensures that your body has enough fluids with the medicine.
Your incision may be closed with sutures, staples, Steri-Strips, or Dermabond® skin adhesive. If clothing irritates the site, please keep a light gauze over it. Otherwise, it can be left uncovered.
- Dermabond® skin adhesive is often used over the incision. It works like glue.
- Do not scratch, rub, or pick at the glue.
- Keep a dry bandage over it.
- Do not place tape on the glue.
- Do not soak or scrub your incision. Cover it with plastic wrap before a shower.
- Dermabond® must not get wet for the first 5 days.
- After bathing, gently pat dry.
- The adhesive will fall off on its own in 10-14 days.
- Do not put any lotions or creams over the Dermabond®.
- Steri-strips are thin pieces of tape over the incision. They will slowly fall off in about 10 days. Do not pull them off early.
- If you have sutures or staples, they will have to be removed in 10-14 days.
- Do not take tub baths.
- Avoid being exposed to the sun.
- Do not use tanning beds.
Check your incision daily. Call your doctor if you notice any of these signs of infection:
- Increased redness, swelling, drainage
- Large increase in pain
- Fever greater than 100°F for two readings taken 4 hours apart
You may resume your sex life after two weeks if you feel comfortable enough to do so.
You may begin driving when you are no longer taking narcotic pain pills. You should limit your driving to short trips and slowly increase the distance. Getting in and out of a car is a very awkward movement for your back. The first 2 weeks you should sit for very short periods.
You may return to work when your doctor has approved your return. It may be more or less time. This depends on the physical demands of your job. You and your doctor should discuss when you could go back to work. You may be off 2-6 weeks depending on the work you do. Heavy lifting may not be allowed for 12 weeks.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call:
Neurosurgery Clinic at 608-263-7502.
After hours, this phone number will reach the paging operator. Ask for the neurosurgery resident on call. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, please call 1-800-323-8942 and ask for the Neurosurgery Office.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 08/11/2011
Copyright © 08/11/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4455
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