How long does it take to heal after a lumbar discectomy?

Lumbar discectomy is the removal of disc material from between the bones of the low back. The inner disc doesn't have its own blood supply so healing can be slow.

The wound usually takes one to two weeks to heal. It can take longer if the patient moves too much, too soon. Scar tissue forms in the area. This gives the spine some stability during the healing phase. The muscles on either side also contract to act as stabilizers.

Many doctors ask the patient to limit motion. Some advise using lumbar support for the first few weeks. Restriction on work after discectomy is common up to two to three months.

Studies are being done to find the ideal amount of disc to remove and the right amount of sick leave. It may be that sick leave can be shortened to less than two weeks. Future studies will help answer this question.