847512 tn?1272567062

What is the "Average" Recovery time after Surgery?

Hi everyone,
I just wanted to see what everyone's average recovery time was after surgery to at least feel back up to par to manage going back to work. I am seriously considering moving up the date of my surgery. The last few days have been horrible for me. I have had leg and lower back pain (Saturday), Sunday I had a headache and neck/ shoulder pain, Monday I had a headache and arm tingling along with seeing spots and double vision, Today I woke up and both of my arms and legs were numb, I was dizzy, had double vision and neck pain, headache and seeing spots....I am progressively getting worse and today while driving I felt like all the blood was drained out of my leg....I asked my NS what he thought and he said in would be "reasonable" to move up the surgery date and to call his scheduling lady.....SCARY!! The breakdown of my condition is I have a 4-6mm herniation and bulging disks in my neck. According to my NEUROLOGIST not my NS he says no syrinx in my thoracic cervical or lumbar spine....I want to have my NS look at that to make sure though. Periodicaly I get the numb and tingling feeling in the back of my throat and sometimes i swear this sounds weird but feel like my brain jumps like I feel something moving, and my neck cracks real easy too. I just kinda want and Idea of what to expect with an average recovery time to try to spend the holidays with my family...SO for those of you oout there wo have had the surgery how long did it take for you to heal and feel at least somewhat normal?
20 Responses
620923 tn?1452915648
Hi.....we do have a thread here "how many Zipperheads"....many members have discuss their recovery on that thread.

I posted my info with my PFD in my journal in my profile page....I am only 2 months post op and I know I am not ready for a job......I am not driving yet.

Everyone is diff.....and it all depends on how the surgery goes.

I have no idea what kind of job u have, but if it is stressful and u r on ur feet I doubt u would be able to go back full time after 3 months.......if it was a less stressful position sitting down..maybe part time.....as I said, we r all diff......only u will know.

Right after surgery I had a false sense of feeling great....it was the meds....and we do have to get off them.....then reality sets in....I am better and so glad I had the surgery, but I know I am still healing and must be patient......

Still looking for my new normal
555358 tn?1292532061
Yeah, if you had the surgery soon, you'd most likely be up and around by the Holidays. But you will still have to take it easy - and I mean really take it easy. Recovery can take over a year. I'm 15 month post op and still get tired out easily. But I think mine isn't normal.

They say that withing 6 weeks you can usually return to light duty work. Just be aware that your immune system and stamina take a lot longer.

You'll most likely be able to enjoy the Holidays, but you don't want to be the one hosting the parties.
969291 tn?1268880742
Take it from me, you do not want to rush things!!!  I went back to almost full time (my full time is 55-60 hours per week and driving 1,200 miles per week with overnight travel) at the end of April.  I had my PFD in January.  It was WAY too early!  I just had an appointment with my NS on Friday and they are reducing my work schedule immediately.  I did do a gradual return to work schedule of a few weeks at the beginning of April, but then felt really pressured to return quickly.  I did and now I'm paying for it.  

My recovery during the time I was at home went smoothly.  I had myself weaned off pain meds within my first week of being home and started driving at 2 weeks out.  In hindsight, I probably should have allowed my mother to take care of me(she took LOA from work to come stay with me) instead of attempting to be super woman.  I'm a busy body to the extreme and HATE being down.  That being said, I am learning how to slow down.  It isn't a choice, it's a must.  I have a 7-year old son who needs his mommy so I am gradually learning how to live life with my new limitations.  

I'm definitely NOT the same person I was prior to surgery and I'm struggling to deal with that the fact I probably never will be again.
624074 tn?1263873807
On Thursday, I will be 4 weeks out of my Chiari Decompression.  My surgery went relatively smoothly.  I did have to be re-admitted to the hospital 3 days after I returned home because I had a CSF leak.  I think the tricky part about recovery is that sometimes, even for days on end, you feel pretty close to normal & you do you routine daily tasks and then BAM!  the very next day, you are in pain or weak and it is scary.  I automatically think something must be wrong, but it's just that you have to take it slow, no matter how wonderful you may feel.  My husband tells me on a daily basis that I didn't have ingrown toenail surgery.  He gets frustrated that I do too much.  I'm still using muscle relaxers and take 1 dose of pain meds, if any at all.  I think if you prepare yourself for the worse and hope for the best, you'll land somewhere in the middle, which in my opinion is way better than in a bed 24/7 in agony.  So, less than 1 week out of the hospital, I can give you a run down of daily tasks I am able to do and not do:  I can get up and get my own food, but I do have insomnia, so I wake up quite late--I'm still on my hospital schedule, I guess.  I can get food for my kids and sit and color, read and play with them for about 2 hour stretches.  I cook dinner every day, but do sit down in between because I get pain and dizziness.  I have been grocery shopping a few times and have even taken my kids to the "bouncy place" to play.  I've been able to drive once, but shouldn't have b/c I haven't been cleared and my neck isn't quite as mobile as it should be.  My biggest complaint is muscle pain in my neck.  I do get lazy, but I've always been that way LOL.  The holidays should be fine for you, especially if your surgery is soon.  I had a diagnosis and surgery within a month of each other, so I wasn't made to suffer long.  Sorry if I rambled.  Good luck with your surgery!
I am a mama of two babies also. We discovered my Chiari and sirynx during second pregnancy and delayed surgery for as long as possible. I had to have ga for delivery. They hoped my symptoms would reverse after and wanted to give me a chance to nurse. Finally I was losing use of my hands and my  feet were going to sleep. I could not hold my fork properly, dropped things suddenly, writing was getting to be impossible etc. I'd had an unbearable headache daily for roughly 10 months. So when my hands started to go docs looked at my third MRI in 6 months and said its time. I had to quit nursing and had my surgery in April 2016. I did have to go back to er once likely for overdoing it- my kids are 3 yr and 2nd is 6 mo. I have short term help but it's a full time job. I also wonder when I will be cleared to drive and pick up my baby again and return to work. It hurts to see him look confused at me when I don't pick him up anymore. God it is horrible. My older understands more and snuggles up. - Cherie
Avatar universal
Hope you are up and around with that 7 yr. old.My daughter is in her third week of recovery. She has a one year old who wants to be held by Mom.She still takes a
lot of meds. My concern is how to get her off them. She had taken so many before
the surgery that she was overdosed after surgery. it was really scary.Just wondering
how yor pain level was and was it had to quit meds.                 donna
620923 tn?1452915648
Donna, I responded to ur other post...and am still confused...didn't they do bloodwork on her prior to the surgery?

And I am sure ur DD made them aware of all her meds, right?

Avatar universal
I had my Chiari decompression surgery on 9/19/12, and before I had the surgery, I had read many different entries like the above. Well, the recovery time for the surgery is really variable. I was released from the hospital at the end of day two, and I took my last pain medication that night. The trick for me was to keep active right after surgery. I was up, walking, soon-there-after, and continued to walk daily. I went back to work (a desk job) in 10 days. It took about 45 days to feel like myself again, I suppose, and at 2 months I think I have gotten all my strength back. I had a 10 mm Chiari (it can be classified as one at 4 mm), so it was not that I had a small malformation.
Avatar universal
Hi, I am 3 weeks post op, I Am also a nurse so I know how important the recovery time is due to the patch that is sewn over the dura mater. That patch needs to develop scar tissue around it to help minimize the possibilities of CSF leakage, because if that happens then surgery has to be done again. And with all the pain I have been through, there is no way I am going through this again. I am in my early 40's and have suffered from Chiari since I was 14 but I wasn't aware of it until November 2014. My symptoms were progressively getting worse and to make a long story short it needed to be taken care of ASAP. My surgeon said I would be out of work for at least 8 weeks. I work 12 hr shifts and am on my feet all day, if I don't feel 100 percent ready, I will take longer. Your brain is nothing to be messing with, I will not rush my recovery and I suggest that everyone else follow there Drs orders. And walking is a good way to get your strength back without over exerting yourself
Thanks for your post. I am a nurse too and have used up all my short term disability time and will now be "disjointed" from my job.  I too work twelve hour shifts but also work with mentally ill and have been attacked numerous times. So did it take only 8 weeks for you?  How long were you in the hospital? Were you bedridden at home? I am having to travel fours hours plus to Cleveland Clinic. Were you able to tolerate long car rides? Or would a thirty minute plane ride be better? Thanks in advance if you answer this post!
620923 tn?1452915648

  Hi and welcome to the Chiari forum.

You are so right...listen to your Dr, but more importantly listen to your body it will let you know if and when you are doing too much by not allowing you to do anything afterward....

Surgery recovery does take time....the outward appearance of the incision may seem healed but it can take up to 2 yrs for the nerves to heal....so what we do post op can affect our recovery process.

I hope you continue to share  your recovery journey with us.
620923 tn?1452915648

  Hi Cherie and welcome to the Chiari forum.

I know it must be hard for your 6 month old to understand but he should be able to crawl onto your lap then you can hold him. For me, it was a good long time b4 I could stand and hold a child as I did not trust myself...I did not feel strong enuff to deal with a wiggly child....I am older and my child grown when I had the surgery....so that plays into how I felt and also have EDS so I am slower to heal as well....

Just remember to take it slow...listen  to your body.
18601554 tn?1467203337
Hello- My recovery took over a year. Sometimes I still feel like I am recovering...it was Oct 2011. My surgery was quite extensive as they wanted to go more "extreme" so I would not need a follow up surgery. My herniation was significant. Three months and I was still barely functioning, I do not remember much of the first six months, and a good portion of the year seems to be blocked out of my memory to a certain extent. By nine months, I felt more like myself, but the hopelessness kicked in very strong as I had all of the same symptoms I had prior to surgery. I thought by then, by that follow up, I would be better in some aspect.

Throughout recovery, I saw friends...went on walks around the block, read many good books, watched films, forced myself to eat (so much nausea) ..I am a dancer and could not dance so I watched MANY Youtube dance choreography, and found the repetition and music comforting, I would imagine my body healing and recovering to one day do all of the choreography that I watched in the videos. And I did, and now I do yoga on a daily basis, as well as ballroom dancing. I discovered that I love intelligent films, and reading outside in the winter, the stillness of life, as well as writing through my recovery process. I learned a lot and I focused on patience.

Let's hope that recovery is swift enough as it can be for neurosurgery. Good luck with your decision and health!
620923 tn?1452915648

  Hi and welcome to the Chiari forum.

Time to recover will be different for everyone as Michelle_Love mentions above in her post.....for me, it took even longer then a year to recover but I do have related conditions and am a slow healer.

  May I ask, do you have other related conditions as well? Do you heal slowly when injured or if you had other procedures?
Avatar universal
I am new here but was wondering if anyone has had or are having the same symptoms. I had my surgery April 13th of this year then on May 6th I had to go back in due to an infection and my incision not closing up properly. Over the last month I have been having stabbing pains in the back of my skull that come and go and at times take my breathe away. Now they are more constant and hurt for longer period of times. Yesterday I started having pressure and a constant pain in the back of my head (not headache pain) and now my right eye has so much pressure it feels like it is going to pop out (this was a symptom prior to surgery). I have called and left messages at my NS office and the RN with no response. The pain is so bad now I am at a loss.
thanks in advance for any help or advice - Michelle B.
I just had surgery in Oct.2016..
How long did it take for the pain to go away.. I am experiencing spasms and nerve pain in my face that it sometime takes my breathe also.. It has been 5 months now.
Avatar universal
I was told 6 months for a lot of benefit 1-3 years for complete benefit. But everyone is different.
Avatar universal
Hello my name is Nelia, I would diagnosed with Chiari malformation type 1 in 2012. I had the surgery to correct my chiari in 2013. I have not had any problems since then. (2013) so don't let fear paralyze you just get informed so you would know what to do and what not to do. I am 47 years old soon to be 48 and 2 months. Just remember listen to your body and don't be stressed because stress is not your friend!  stay  encourage you can beat this! !
Thanks this is good to know!
I am 1 week post op and doing well. Plan to return to work in 10 Days. I think everyone has different healing times and tolerances. I have never used narcotics and have adjusted my life and thinking of what pain is and how it reminds me of my limitations to not worsen conditions. Ice and heat are my best friends as well as a kick *** attitude towards not allowing Chiari to define nor defeat me. Good luck warriors!
@ARTMJT11- I am happy for you  that your recovery is going well....just be advised to listen to your body.....rushing to do too much post op can cause set backs. I wish you all the best..
Avatar universal
These answers has helped me also. I just had the surgery August 4, 2016 it has been 4 weeks now and I know I have a while to go before Im healed and functioning right. It is very stressful. And Im glad to see someone mentioned stress. Im trying my best not to stress bc I know it want help. But Im so tired of the throbbing pain in the back of my head. Will it really take 6 months or longer for the pain to go away? Does walking help?
I have Chiari level 1, three weeks post Op craniotomy and laminectomy. I still take ibuprofen during the day to help with swelling and I take 1/2 a Vicodin at night if needed, but only if the pain in my neck and upper back muscles Is absolutely unbearable. The stiffness and neck muscle pain is frustrating at this point, as my only option is to lay on my side all day. I still have head sensitivity, and fatigue but all of my other symptoms are gone! Walking for more than 1/4 mile has been painful, so Im going to try some water exercises and stationary biking. Aside from the pain, the hardest part is eating too much comfort food, not excercising and having too much energy in the middle of the night. I don't see myself feeling like myself for another 6-8 weeks. But I am so happy that I got it over with! Power to the Moo!
Yes i had surgery in Oct.2016.. It has been stressful for me.. I was having panic attacks.. It is scary at times
Avatar universal
Hi my little just had it done surgery shes only 14
Avatar universal
How long is the recovery for this surgery for 14 year old girl
Avatar universal
I had surgery in Oct. 2016. It has been 5 months and the pain and spasms are unbearable. I take pain meds and meds for nerve damage. Hope it don't last long. I have experienced more pain now then after my surgery.. Hope this pain ho away soon..
Its been 3 months now since my surgery and having severe to dull headaches everyday. They just dont go away. I just want these headaches to go away. I seen you said 5 months in this post Mar 12 2017  did your pain and spasms finally go away. I also had spasms and took Magnesium and it helped alot.  Please what can help take my headaches away?
Hi and welcome to the Chiari forum.

May I ask what your daily activities have been/are?

Also, were ALL related conditions ruled out prior to surgery?

It is common to have symptoms return as we are healing....but it should not be as severe or intense as it was before surgery. If it is new or worse, contact your Dr as there may be something else going on.

Were you given neck exercises  to do post op?

It is possible to be over doing it and that can cause setbacks....listen to your body and relax and allow your body to heal.....I know it is not easy, but important.

Again, if you feel the headaches are different or worse then contact your Dr.

When is your next post op visit?
Avatar universal
I had my surgery in mid februari, chiary type I. I was released from the hospital in about a week. The following two weeks were terrible. The pain at the back of my neck, head, and at the eyes was unbearable. I could not walk, stand for a while, or eat. So I went back to the hospital and got an MRI. The MRI showed that a large amount of Cerebrospinal fluid (brain fluid) had leaked at the place where they removed the piece of skull and it had formed a liquid pocket (?). This fluid caused pressure at the surrounding muscles and nerves, which explained the pain I felt. They removed a part of the fluid via a needle, and I head to wear compressive bandage for two weeks. The pain decreased immediately after the needle treatment and I was able to recover from that point on. At this moment I am already able to go to the gym and going to university college again, taken no medication. For those of you that are still very ill after several weeks / months I would recommend to ask for an MRI, it helped me a lot.
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