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Upcoming L5-S1 Microdisectomy, 22 Year Old Male

Hello everyone,

This is my first post on here and I'm looking for some reassurance if possible. I am a 22 year old, male collegiate Track and Field thrower and power lifter. Just under two years ago I injured my back weight lifting. I fought through the pain for a few weeks until it was too much to bare. The pain begins in my left hip and continues to the back of my knee. Luckily it doesn't go past that point and there is just pain, not numbness.

It was diagnosed as a L5-S1 disc herniation. I immediately started PT and have had three injections. Overall the pain improved maybe 20%. I'm currently on an anti-inflammatory, diclofenac sodium. It helps me cope with the pain but it is still there. My doctor is now suggesting surgery. I've gotten multiple opinions and they all say the same.

My concern is the recovery. I am still in college and have to go to class. If I have the surgery on a Friday, would I be able to attend classes on Monday? My doctor says I will but I was hoping to get the opinion of people who have had the surgery. Also, what was the recovery time? When could you start bending, lifting, running, etc.? Any help is greatly appreciated! Thank you!

- Dave J.


  • I highly doubt you could have surgery on a Friday and attend class the following Monday. Much has to do with the "approach" used by your surgeon. The "approach" is just fancy medical terminology for the way in which your surgeon will access the herniation. He could, for example, cut right thru the skin, muscles, bone, tendons, and ligaments to get right at it. He could also use flexible endoscopic instrumentation to very carefully and skillfully snake in there without traumatizing the surrounding structures and tissues. So, in essence, the more collateral damage he makes, the longer the recovery.

    When I had my surgery, it happened 1 month into a new semester. I had to drop out that semester. There was no way I could have gone back to class that week or the next. Or the next. Looking back, it probably took a month for me to get back to a normal groove.

    Really tho, the school schedule is a small thing. Consider the big picture: the length of your life and the back problem you now have. It behooves you to learn about spinal discs and how they behave before, during, and after a herniation and surgery.

    In short, once a disc is compromised, it will always be compromised. It has a much lower capacity to handle weight carrying ability, shearing forces, torque transfer from the floor (feet) to the upper body and extremeties. It will keep blowing out if it is subjected to the same kinds of loads as before. Eventually, there won't be anymore disc to blow out.

    As someone who has been thru your situation a few times, I would suggest to reconsider the powerlifting career.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
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