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Police/Martial Arts/Sports L5-S1


I had a Microdiscectomy and Laminectomy 2 weeks ago on L5-S1. I had an MRI done about 3 weeks before surgery which showed 3 bulging discs and the 1 herniated disc L5-S1, the MRI report also states degenerative disc disease (which I am assuming is just a general term for these type of injuries) and a variety of other things (the report is a page long).

Anyway, bit of background, the herniation occurred at work (wrestle--offender etc etc). I am a Police Officer of 4 years. I am 27 years old, played sports my entire life (rugby growing up then progressed into BJJ, Muay Thai, MMA, boxing). I would say I am quite fit (even with the herniation I was running 10KM/Day).

I apologize if this question has been asked a few times before, but I am wondering if there are any other Police on here that have had same surgery and have returned to work (on the road) after 5 weeks?

I have been given about another 4 weeks until I see the surgeon and he says yes or no whether I go straight back into work, full duties.

I feel fine at the moment, walking 5KM twice a day. Not pushing it, for me that's with no pain. Walking for me doesn't hurt, but bending at the hips does slightly.

I have decided to give up MMA as the thought of a takedown session make me cringe. I may just limit myself to boxing as I am thinking that would be fine once I heal.

My main concern is doing doing more damage to the disc when I go back to work. It is my understanding that quite a portion of disc was removed during surgery.

Any people on here that are Police or Military or similar jobs where they have returned to work full duties shortly after surgery?

I understand everyone is different and others may have a completely different experience to me.




  • Let me start off by saying that I am not in law enforcement. I have 23 yrs fire protection and 28 yrs EMS experience + military. Based on what I've had the opportunity to see and do with LEO's, I'd say you will most likely return to law enforcement, but take your time to heal 100% before coming back. I tried coming back too soon from surgery (2 level fusion) and paid for it.

    After surgery, I went back into the field again and worked through the pain. But a couple years ago, the pain got to the point that I had to take meds 24/7 which took me out of the field. Not sure about law enforcement, but in EMS a Medical Director won't typically let you work the streets while on narcotic pain meds.

    A friend of mine is an FBI agent and he went back to work after having the same surgery you had. Grant it, you have a much greater chance of mixing it up with a criminal vs. an FBI Agent, however he was able to get medical clearance to continue working.

    Regarding martial arts, I'd recommend starting very slow and see what your body tells you. If it hurts, stop. So far, you've been able to avoid a fusion. I would carefully weigh what activities to do or not to do with the fact that you may now be vulnerable to future herniation's.

    Best of luck to you and thank you for your work!

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • Thanks for the reply EMS, I will endeavour not to be one of the guys that end up worse, at least its covered by work!
  • http://www.spine-health.com/forum/announcements/spine-health-announcements/welcome-message-resource

    Welcome to Spine- health..........I have to agree with everything that EMS said......the most important part of this is giving your body time and room to heal correctly before you jump back into your job. My husband is a LEO ( 28 years).....anyway, follow your surgeons post op restrictions and activity levels and you can and will wind up in good shape.
    When you are cleared to resume the physical activties, build back up.....you have been at a reduced amount of activity since prior to your surgery, so the best course is to go slow and steady to rebuild back up to the level you were......
    DDD is misnomer, it is simply in the majority of cases an aging process that happens to all of us, as we get older. Unless it is out of the normal amount expected for your age, it is simply an anatomical finding that is included on the report.....
  • kilawee1920kkilawee1920 Posts: 3
    edited 06/06/2014 - 8:48 AM
    I am also a police officer that had micro disectomy on May 22nd of this year. So obviously I have not returned to full duty yet, working light duty desk work as we speak. I had sciatica for 2 months, worked through it for 1 until I could barely tolerate getting in and out of a police cruiser.

    I have no more sciatica pain, but feel weak in my right leg (the affected leg of sciatica prior to surgery) I just went for a 6 block walk and had weakness in my right leg buttocks area. Im trying to take it slow but this is very unnerving to say the least being 32 yrs old and a police officer and wondering the long term ramifications.

  • Give it time........it sounds like the disc was pressing /in contact with the nerve and it can take a bit of time for you to recover from that... I know that desk duty isn't the best situation but it is far better to do that, then it is to rush back into the patrol mode and get hurt even further.
    Spine surgery recovery is a journey, not necessarily a destination.
    Hang in there both of you..........and stay safe.
  • TenaciousgreenTTenaciousgreen Posts: 12
    edited 06/20/2014 - 10:09 PM
    I am also a cop in Australia, just 3 weeks post Laminectomy, Discectomy and fitted with 2nd gen Wallis device at L4/L5. No specific incident caused my problems which came on gradually and worsened to the point where I could only do light office duties for 4 hours a day. I have some DDD I am convinced that the cause has been nearly 20 years wearing accoutrement belt (which nowadays weighs about 10 Kgs) around the waist and being in and out of a low car/van for 10 hours a day has been the main cause for my injury. As for going back to work, 3 weeks post op and even the thought of putting that belt on scares the living death out of me. I will be moving to a thigh holster to reduce some weight but ultimately it will be a challenge to maintain full operation status for long periods, so I intend to take it slowly.
  • Welcome to Spine Health........a diagnosis of DDD ( degenerative disc disease) is not really a diagnosis......for most of us, it is considered a normal finding on imaging studies. As you get older, the majority of the population will show some thinning of the discs , and it is perfectly natural. However, it is confusing when someone sees that on a report because we automatically assume that it means that there is some disease eating away at our discs.....it simply means that the discs loose some tiny amounts of their hydration over decades...the term disease is simply a name of the process.....
    Be careful about returning to full duty until your surgeon has cleared you to do so, otherwise, you can reherniate if you do things too quickly.

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