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How Long Will My Nerve Compression Recovery Take?

April 22, 2020

Female holds her left arm out and holds her wrist with her right hand

Nerve decompression surgery relieves pressure on a nerve. The surgical treatment is often performed to relieve the symptoms of a pinched nerve (weakness, tingling, or numbness) in the upper extremities.

The experienced surgeons of Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin in Austin, TX, perform nerve compression surgery. Following the pain-relieving surgery, patients will begin a recovery period. Nerves tend to recover slowly. To help our patients prepare for their nerve compression surgery recovery, we offer this overview.

Nerve Compression Surgery Recovery: What do Expect

The type and location of your procedure will depend on which nerve is being treated. If you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, the incision may be located in the palm where the carpal tunnel is located. Treatment for a compressed ulnar nerve may require an incision near the elbow to reposition ligaments that are pressing on nerves.

Back surgery is often performed to treat a pinched nerve. Potential surgical procedures that can relieve nerve compression include:

  • Laminectomy: This treatment removes a portion of the vertebrae to relieve pressure.
  • Discectomy: This surgical procedure removes all or a section of the damaged disc.
  • Spinal fusion: Some patients may need to have two neighboring vertebrae joined.

Recovery from Carpal Tunnel Surgery

Following surgery at our Austin surgical center, your arm will be placed in a heavy bandage or splint that will need to remain on for one to two weeks. Pain can be managed using medications that will be detailed on your recovery guidelines.

Once your bandage or splint is removed, you will begin a physical therapy program. The hand motions and exercises performed during these sessions will promote healing. Your hand motions may be restricted while you recover, and you may be required to wear a brace or splint while you heal. Total recovery time can take up to a few months.

Recovery from Back Surgery

Back surgery requires a lengthy recovery period. It can take three to four months (or longer) for your bones to fully heal. Age and the type of back surgery are leading factors that will determine how quickly you heal. A discectomy typically requires a shorter recovery than spinal fusion.

During the first week of recovery, rest should be a priority. Light walking is the only physical activity you can and should engage in for two weeks. Pain and swelling can be managed with medications that will be listed on your recovery guidelines. Swelling, numbness, and pain near your incisions should be expected. Report any sudden increase in these symptoms.

Other recovery tips include:

  • Covering your incision with plastic when showering
  • Avoiding smoking and tobacco while recovering
  • Avoiding bending at the waist
  • Never lifting heavy objects
  • Wearing your back brace for as long as recommended
  • Avoiding longs drives that require sitting up for more than 30 minutes

Your doctor will let you know when it is safe to resume light physical activities. Your recovery will likely include physical therapy sessions. If you experience chills, fever, or worsening symptoms (pain, swelling, bleeding), let our office know immediately.

Reduce Pain and Regain Mobility through Nerve Compression Surgery

A compressed nerve should be taken very seriously. Left untreated, the condition can lead to irreversible damage to your nerve. If you experience weakness, tingling, or numbness in the upper extremities, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with the expert doctors of Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin. To schedule your next visit, please contact us online or call (512) 476-2830.