Recovering after an L5-S1 bulging disk surgery involves a slow return to normal movement, according to WebMD. Patients are encouraged to begin walking immediately after surgery in order to limit the formation of scar tissue. Physical therapy and at-home exercises are prescribed to help the patient regain normal movement.
After surgery patients often feel pain upon sitting and may not be able to sit longer than 15 minutes, although sitting for longer periods becomes easier over time, explains WebMD. Although recovery time varies, those working in offices usually return to work within a month of surgery, but it may take patients who have jobs involving physical labor such as lifting up to two months to return to work. In order to mitigate pain during recovery, patients are usually prescribed oral pain medicine.
Immediately after surgery, there is a risk of surgical infection, according to WebMD. As with all surgical procedures, there is a risk in using anesthetic. There is also a danger of damaging the nerves of the back and spine. If any of this occurs, recovery time increases.
L5-S1 bulging disk surgery is not always successful, and some patients need further treatment, WebMD reports. Further treatment includes an intense physical therapy regimen or further surgical procedures.