I'm going to have a discectomy at L34 in two days. As part of the postop instructions I was told to get back to work and daily activities as soon as possible. The handout says to follow my doctor's advice. What do most doctors tell their patients?
General common sense advice is often offered by surgeons for patients following a simple discectomy. You can get back to your normal, daily activities as soon as possible. Use pain as your guide. Don't lift anything heavy for the first six to eight weeks. Avoid lifting anything if it involves twisting and bending.

Some physicians don't place any restrictions on bending or lifting. Others suggest a rehab program to help the patients gradually regain function, strength, and overall fitness. A physical therapist can help patients with posture, lifting and bending, strength training, and return to fitness/function.

If you have a disc removed along with a laminectomy (bone removed) and spinal fusion, then actvitiy restrictions may be slightly different for a longer period of time. Be sure and ask your doctor what advice he or she feels is best. Ask about the role of exercise and activity. When evaluating what you are told, let good common sense guide you as well.