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Recovery Tracker

Get Well Soon

Helping you to make a speedy recovery after a slipped disc operation

Recovery Tracker

Days/Weeks Post Op How you might feel Things you can do safely Fit to work?

1-3 days

Pain deep inside (especially when moving) and some discomfort around the wound. A very small number of people may have difficulty in passing urine. You should notice an improvement in your leg pain. Most people will be discharged from hospital and back at home around day 3.

  • Eat and drink as normal
  • Take painkillers and antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Inform your doctor or nurses if you have difficulty passing urine.
  • Stay positive and involved in your care. You will be helped to get up and moving around the ward quite soon after your operation.


3 - 12 days

You may still feel some discomfort in your back and around your wound, though there should be no difficulties passing urine as normal. Your stitches will be removed after 10 to 12 days.

  • Good posture is important at all times. Avoid heavy lifting, awkward twisting or leaning forwards to do ordinary tasks.
  • Stick to the routine of exercises that the physiotherapist gives you to do. This will help you to avoid stiffness of the muscles and joints.
  • Maintain a normal routine: get up at your normal time, move around the house, eat and drink as normal. If you feel tired, stop and rest.
  • Wash carefully, ensuring that you avoid harsh shampoo and perfumed soaps on the wound for about one week. Baby shampoo, simple soap or just water is best. Don’t soak in a bath during this time.
  • You may still need to take a mild painkiller at this time.


2-5 weeks

The pain should be less, and strength returning gradually each day. However, you can still expect to feel sudden tiredness.

  • Continue to work closely with your physio and outpatient team, and follow the exercises designed to build up your strength.
  • Go for a short walk in the morning - no more than 5-10 minutes - then go home and rest. Go for another short walk or two later in the day, resting between each one. This will help to avoid stiffness of the muscles and joints. Gradually build up your amount of activity each day.

Getting there

6 weeks

You should be free of pain by now, and find that you have the strength to do most of your normal daily activities.

  • Swimming or other gentle exercise that does not put a large amount of stress on the spine.
  • Driving for short periods of time - provided you’ve checked with your GP and your insurance company.
  • Return to work if you have a desk job.
  • You may still need to take a mild painkiller at this time.

Yes - provided you don’t have to stand for long periods, or do any heavy lifting. Remember, it’s important to get up and move about every 20 minutes or so.

12 weeks

By now, you can begin to drive for longer periods and do most activities as normal, except for contact sports. If you have a job that involves a lot of driving or lifting, you may now return to work on lighter duties.


14 weeks


If you haven’t had any complications to do with your surgery, and you’re still off work, it’s likely that you’re feeling anxious about returning to work and could do with a bit of help from your GP and your employer. Talk to them both about a gradual return to work.
If you’re off for too long, there’s a risk of developing problems to do with anxiety, isolation, and lack of confidence.

If your leg pain returns all of a sudden at any point while you are recovering, be sure to report it to your doctor.

When can I have sex?

For many people, being able to have sex again is an important milestone in their recovery. There are no set rules or times about when it’s safe to do so other than whether it feels OK to you - treat it like any other physical activity and build up gradually.

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