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A prolapsed disc can be a painful and inconvenient experience, especially for those accustomed to an active lifestyle. If you have tried conservative treatments and aren’t satisfied with the results, you and your doctor may decide that prolapsed disc surgery is the best option.

Once you and your doctor have made this decision together, it’s important to get informed. By researching your condition, how it will be treated and how long your recovery will be, you can feel more confident about your return to a comfortable and active lifestyle. The following is an overview of prolapsed disc surgery recovery time as well as some advice on how to make the best of your treatment.

What Is a Prolapsed Disc?

In order to understand prolapsed disc surgery recovery time, it’s important to understand exactly what a prolapsed disc is. The spine is made of a series of segments that are separated and cushioned by pieces of soft tissue known as spinal discs. These discs protect the spinal nerves and allow the spine to be more flexible. However, they can become worn down or damaged, whether due to the natural aging process, poor posture, a back injury or repetitive stress.

Each spinal disc consists of a soft, jelly-like inner portion and a tough, protective outer portion. If the disc is worn down or damaged the inner portion can prolapse,”or leak out” past its typical boundary. When a disc prolapses, it can irritate nearby spinal nerves and cause the pain and discomfort that many prolapsed disc patients report.

What Is Prolapsed Disc Surgery?

A popular treatment for a prolapsed disc that hasn’t responded well to conservative treatments is minimally invasive microdiscectomy. Minimally invasive spine surgery refers to a series of techniques that are used to resolve the issue with your spinal disc while minimizing the damage to healthy tissue.

Minimally invasive spine surgery for a prolapsed disc typically involves a microdiscectomy, in which the surgeon removes the problematic portion of the disc. When a portion of a spinal disc is removed, however, it may cause stability issues in the spine. For this reason, a microdiscectomy may be paired with a fusion, in which the surgeon inserts a bone graft into the space left by the removed disc. Talk with your surgeon if you have any questions or concerns about your condition and how he or she plans to treat it.

What Does Recovery Look Like?

You may be kept in the hospital for the first day or two of your prolapsed disc surgery recovery time. When your doctors and nurses determine that you can eat, walk and use the restroom independently, you will be allowed to return home.

For the first four to six weeks after your prolapsed disc surgery, you will be advised to avoid any twisting or lifting. Then, once this initial period has passed, it will be important to consult with your doctor to determine how and when you can gradually return to activity. As a general guide, most patients make a full recovery by three months.

Factors That Affect Recovery Time

In addition to the skill of your surgeon and the severity of your condition, here are some factors that affect prolapsed disc surgery recovery time.


Simply put, many processes in the body slow down with age. This means that a young person is more likely to experience a fast recovery than an older person.

Overall Health

Another important factor in your ability to bounce back following your surgery is your overall health prior to the operation. For example, patients who exercise regularly and don’t smoke stand a better chance of a quick recovery.

Recovery Do’s and Don’ts

Although prolapsed disc surgery recovery time can seem like something out of your control, there is in fact a great deal you can do to improve your chances of a fast, full recovery.


One of the first things you can do to ensure a successful recovery is to plan ahead. You should advise your employer that you may need to miss work for at least a few days. Also, you may want to arrange assistance at home for the first few days of your recovery.

Another crucial part of your prolapsed disc surgery recovery will be to follow your doctor’s advice closely. You should ask as many questions as you see fit to resolve doubts about what you should and should not do during your recovery.


To allow your spine time to heal, don’t overdo it. Be cautious with your motion and effort until your doctor gives you clearance. Also, try not to become stressed or impatient. Talk with your doctor and trust that he or she will properly guide you during your recovery.

Final Thoughts

A prolapsed disc is a setback, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of a comfortable, active lifestyle. If you and your doctor have decided that an operation is the next step, it’s important to research prolapsed disc surgery recovery time so you can develop appropriate expectations and make preparations for your treatment. You should use this guide to form questions for your doctor.

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