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Sports after surgery?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I am 19 years old and was relatively physically active before my herniation 6 months ago. I am scheduled to have surgery in two weeks and am kind of afraid, mainly about the things that I will never be able to do again once it is done.

I am having a microdiscectomy on my L5-S1. I am just wondering... will I ever be able to play baseball or tennis again? Those are the sports that are most important to me. Also, if I can do those after my surgery - what will I never be able to do again? Just to get my head around it.



  • Who told you that you'd never be able to play sports again? Unless your doctor has told you that you have some underlying condition that precipitates you from doing so, you should be fine once you have recovered from surgery. MANY athletes have micro d's and other spine surgeries and return to playing sports once they have recovered from surgery.

  • "C" is correct. You should be able to play again after your recovery.

    If it makes you feel any better, I am in my mid-40s and my surgeon said I will be able to return to golf after my recovery from spinal fusion at L5/S1. In my case, I will not be able to play until some time between 8-12 months post-surgery (but that's for a fusion).

    Technically, you should be able to do everything you did before surgery. However, you may need to be careful about how you pick things up from the ground, especially heavy objects. You also may need to avoid constant repetition of bending and twisting.
  • ...if all goes well there should be no reason why not. We have had many members here who have returned to very active lifestyles after spine surgeries (including fusion surgeries); such as golf, bowling, surfing, soccer, mountain biking, cycling.
    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

  • I have a more than 1 friend (yes, I do have friends!) who has had a micro-d. One friend was running again very soon after the surgery, and then went on to compete in a marathon.

    talk to your doctor, but as the previous posters pointed out, you should be able to return to your sports. Just be careful!
  • Hi G,

    I'm in the same boat as yourself. I can tell you that they'll tell you can do whatever you like. I was athletic and quite happy about challenging myself. Now, you can look at your recovery as the greatest challenge so far in your life. Listen to your doctors, unlike a many games, this one won't be over after 15 min, 1 hour, etc. It can best be described as a season. At 9 months you should be healed up. Before this time, if you feel good and want to increase something, run it by your doc or pt.

  • I think the major problem is the so many patients get impatient and try to do too much too soon. It is hard to believe that one can still be healing at 9 months or even a year, and that it is possible to cause harm by trying to rush the healing process, but this often happens.

    Also, I know we are supposed to listen to our doctors, but regarding this issue, some of them tell you to go ahead and "do anything, as long as it doesn't hurt." Some provide little guidance at all. Others tell you that you can do anything you could do before. But you must always be mindful of what you've been through, and remember that your back is not as strong as it was prior to your injury or the time the pain began.

    That being said, I have a number of 50-something friends who are back to skiing, golfing, playing tennis and kayaking after having had a fusion (lumbar) and they are doing just fine.

    You will be able to do the sports you love. Just remember to keep all the muscles of your core strong...and don't go play 18 holes after not having played for awhile. Just use good common sense and you'll be fine!!
  • I believe that the majority of spine patients actually have stronger spines post op as compared to the "average person" who has no back problems. Most every spine patient focuses on core strengthening, whereas most others have no clue what it even is. I would put recovered spine patients up against normal people any day!

  • I just turned 60 and I began playing golf again 16 months after my 5 level fusion. I played as badly after the surgery as I did before it. I also walk, power walk, 4 miles, 5 days a week.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • Make sure you ask your surgeon about the structures of a lumbar disc. Ask what happened to those structures that it herniated in the first place.
    Ask how surgery can alter them.
    Ask what happens to them post-operatively.

    It is my understanding that scar tissue builds over a herniation site, on the disc itself and that scar tissue is weaker than the annulus.

    You're so young, but we have people your age here who's discs could not be saved.

    Probably you will be fine, but be mindful of impact and loading of your lumbar spine.

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • I have a friend who had three lumbar discs replaced after a car accident. He has returned to all sports he participated in before the accident: snowmobyling, biking, hiking, etc.
    Keep a positive attitude, have patience and good luck!
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