November 27, 2017

What is life like after back surgery? Follow one patient’s journey

Neck, Back and Spine | Patient Stories

Eight weeks after Dr. David Schwartz performed lumbar disc herniation operation on 27-year-old spine patient Justin Ochoa, we decided to check in to hear how it was going. In this blog post, he gives a candid look at what life is like after back surgery.

Originally, Justin Ochoa was diagnosed with a lumbar disc herniation. He tried conservative treatments (including physical therapy and injections) before having spine surgery, but—because he was still experiencing severe sciatica pain—Dr. Schwartz recommended surgery for back pain relief.

Read on to check out Justin’s story about changes after back surgery, in his own words.

Life after back surgery

“So waking up after surgery was a pretty surreal feeling because it was the first time in probably almost 10 years that I didn’t have any sort of shooting pain or numbness down either of my legs or my back; so it was weird because I was also on medication and it was hard to tell what was what.

“Shortly after that, I was in the recovery room and I came a little bit more to my senses. I realized that pretty much immediately all the symptoms were gone and that I just had some basic soreness from the actual incision itself.

Going home after spine surgery

“I ended up going home that day. I got to the hospital at 6 a.m., and I was home by 4 p.m. I walked to the car by myself with the help of my nurses and my wife, which is pretty amazing to be up on your feet basically just a few short hours after the operation with zero pain and just a little bit of natural discomfort.

“After back surgery, I could help out around the house, I could cook dinners, I could still come to work, coach my athletes and work with my clients.

“Nothing really changed except for physical activity that I had to limit, which is totally understandable while you’re in the healing process. But I was amazed by all the things that came back into my life just by having a simple operation and by being able to do things without experiencing excruciating pain.”

Status at eight weeks out after back surgery

“Currently, it’s eight weeks after my spine surgery, and I’m feeling really, really good I’ve been back to work since week two. I have completed all the necessary steps to get cleared by the doctor and make me eligible for physical activity again.

“I started a rehab program, completed that, then I just started a workout program, and I’m currently trying to work my way through that right now.

“Overall I feel great after back surgery. I am happy to just be back in the gym and have no real limitations that are caused by pain. That’s the first time in a long time that I’ve experienced that.

“It’s fun to get out here and have fun in the weight room and do the things that I love to do without having to worry about my back limiting me or making it completely impossible for me to do.”

Day-to-day life during the healing process

“I still got to work with clients every single day, I was still able to coach athletes on the basketball court and on the football field every single day.

“I wasn’t limited in any way by my surgery and that completely surprised me. I had set myself up like I was going to miss a lot of work and then I ended up feeling so much better, so much faster than I could have imagined. It got me right back in to the swing of things.

“One thing that has been huge for me during this entire process is that I have been working for the past year to open up a gym and a training facility and getting a surgery towards the end of this process has been kind of an interesting thing.”

Making future plans after back surgery

“I thought it would set the business back but during that time of recovery I was able to really focus on admin work, getting all the financial documents in place, getting all the legal stuff in place. It was kind of a blessing in disguise that actually boosted my business. We’ll be opening our doors right at Pace Fitness Academy on 82nd street right across from Castleton Square Mall.”


We are so glad to hear that, after back surgery, Justin is back to doing almost everything that was part of his normal routine. He has been able to help his wife around the house, play with his kids and he has returned to work full time. Today, Justin is also getting ready to open his own business.

This is our final post and video about Justin’s experience as a back pain patient at OrthoIndy.

In case you missed our earlier posts, be sure to check out Justin’s thoughts on his initial back pain diagnosis before spine surgery and learn what Justin said it was like during back surgery.

Schedule an appointment

If non-operative treatments have failed to get rid of your discomfort, back surgery might be right for you. If you have been getting nowhere with conservative treatments or wonder if it really makes sense to have spine surgery, we can help.

See one of the specialists on the OrthoIndy spine team for an initial diagnosis or second opinion. Call us at 317.802.2883 to schedule an appointment or make an appointment request online.

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