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returning to contact sports after disc herniation

gwennie17gwennie17 Posts: 2,957
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:42 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I can't remember which member was inquiring about returning to contact sports after surgery...but I hope some of you find the following information helpful.

I ran across this report on a new study entitled:

"High-level athletes can return to play after cervical disc herniation, study finds"

"National Football League players undergoing surgery for cervical disc herniations stand a good chance of returning to the same level play and for a longer period of time afterwards compared to players treated nonoperatively, according to the results a study presented here."

You can read the study here:


So far, they have only studied football players, but they plan to add four more sports in the near future.

Personally I don't plan on taking up football any time soon, but, perhaps this study will be encouraging to some of you.



  • I wonder if the authors of that study are NFL doctors. The NFL is so shady in their treatment of injured players. And the whole concussion controversy, they have their own Dr's doing a study of the effects of concussions on players and their ability to return to play. How LOUD can you say conflict of interest. It's really appalling. I hope the study Gwennie found is correct. Thanks for posting as always Gwennie, You always find articles that make me look at things in a different perspective.


    P.S. This Dr is not listed as an NFL consultant but he is a consultant for MLB Chicago Cubs.
  • After minimally-invasive surgery you can go back to sports without problems (of course, if no complications occured.

    Recently one football player in English Premier league was operated, and he is playing.

    Recently, one basketball player was operated in Croatia endoscopically, and is playing.

    In near future, professional hockey player from Slovakia is coming here in Croatia for treatment by SED method - he will also come back to sports.

    Tito Ortic (UFC fighter) returning to his activity after XLIF.
  • I wondered if returning to mountain biking in az would be wise!!! Not intentionally a contact sport, but sometimes the unintentional is quite ...violent;)

    Going back to wake boarding, well, that one scares me a.bit because it is so hard on the neck!

    Thanks Gwennie,

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,874
    This has been a topic that has been going on since the Mid 70's.
    One of the first professional sport figures to return to their sports was a goalie for the New York Rangers.
    He had L4/L5 disc herniation. At that time there was an experimental procedure that included the injection of papaya and other ingredients to shrink the herniation. It was not FDA approved, so the athlete went to Canada for the procedure and returned to his goalie position in 3 weeks.

    There are more and more professional athletes that are having spinal surgery and return to their sports.

    One thing to keep in mind that separates those folks from the rest of the 'general' population. They are in excellent shape, their bodies are (or at least should be) at their top. That alone makes it easier to return after surgery, injury, etc

    To 'know' when one might return to a sport that can include contact, your doctor is your best source.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Yes, chemopapain, its still used in Europe, and sometimes by Dr. Yeung in DISC.
  • The New York Knicks of the NBA have a young kid who had a discectomy last year and he is having a terrific season. It's probably like everything else: The younger and better shape you are in, the better your chance of having a good recovery is. :)
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,874
    The Younger you are and the Better overall shape you are in, the quicker you should recovery and the quicker you can return to some of the activities you did before.

    Now of course that is not always true.

    Thats why many times where I read a post about a young person having surgery, I look at that in two ways.

    1. Being young, they should have a better time recovering.
    2. They need to adhere to all limitations and restrictions, so that later on in life, they may not have to suffer to the degree that many do
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • With Ron, just because you can do something does not always mean you should! The dollars, the egos involved with pro sports and the condition of their bodies at the time of these accidents and surgery all come into play.

    Move ahead 20-30 years and many of these ex players are near cripples from stubbornly continuing on. Jerome Bettis did a long interview when he retired from NFL, during it he explained that he actually has days he can barely walk up and down the stairs at his home! during training season the team doctors, adrenaline and shear determination kept him going the last few years. He said he finally retired for fear that he would end up not able to walk at all!

    The concussion issue is slowly getting recognized as something to not be ignored. A player on my sons high school Lacrosse team suffered several, I forget the exact number, but it was more than 3! Anyway he was offered a full ride scholarship at a division one school. The school withdrew the offer when they got his medical records. They still offered him a decent scholarship, but he was talked to by the teams doctor who told him it would be in his best interest to not play lacrosse or any contact sport in the future.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,874
    In Pro Sports everything is focused on winning and becoming the best. That is much more important than an individual's personal welfare. Sacramento the person for the team! Scary but true. There are so many Jerome Bettis around, unfortunately there are many like Lyle Alzado.

    I know just for myself playing High School football in the late 60's There was no such thing as conditioning. I remember our coaches telling us to go into the weight room daily, use as much weights as possible and repeat it as often as you can!
    And head to head tackling was promoted. My one coach always said the best way to stop someone is to drill your head into theirs. I did, more times than I should have. Several times, I dropped to the ground numb in my arms and hands. In the rhree years of playing varsity football, I had 5 concussions.

    So, I do know that some of the actions had a direct impact on my spinal problems... And I can use the concussions as an excuse for being a bit crazy.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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