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back to sports

icehockeyaaroniicehockeyaaron Posts: 10
edited 11/20/2014 - 11:48 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
hello all!!!!! I am new to the forum and I would like to start by briefly telling my story of my recent L5 S1 discectomy/laminectomy. I am a 26 year old male 5'11" about 190 (heavy set but not obese at all) involved in sports my whole life...... In mid summer 2013 I was at a normal Tuesday drop in ice hockey game when I did my routine stretches I noticed almost a popping sensation in my lower back. I shrugged it off because being tough is part of the game, recently I had a nasty fall tailbone first into the boards which was EXTREMELY painful but I kept playing and playing as hockey is very important to me and sports in general are my favorite pass time... I am into snowmobiles dirt bikes and quads, basically all types and forms of sports have been in my life.... needless to say I herniated my L5 S1 that fateful day at drop in hockey, it took about a year of dr to dr and physical therapy and injections before I saw a spine surgeon who actually listened. I had a very large rupture on the right side, july 2nd was my surgery and I am currently just about 5 months post op.... I have recently had a very small but noticeable difference in level of leg pain and severe back pain... it has been a long roller coaster ride thus far and im reaching out to anyone with a similar story to see how they recovered and were able to return to the sport they loved so dearly.... I did not have a micro so please be understanding that I have the deepest sympathy for all back surgery patients but I know the healing time of the micro can be much quicker and also I know a lot can depend on the length of time your disk was ruptured as well, I am all ears for anyone who has any input, I would strongly appreciate though if you had a micro or you were only herniated for a few months at most if you could please understand I want to hear your story but it will not help me as I was in pain for going on one year and the only option I had was to do a regular discectomy/laminectomy, my surgeon is the chief of staff at the xxxx, where he is very successful. he feels I will skate again and feels I wont need a fusion however there are days I worry it may be the way ill have to go in the future. I would love to hear from anyone in any situation of how they returned to sports after a serious back problem, THANK YOU :)
once an ice hockey player always an ice hockey player


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 11/20/2014 - 11:48 AM

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Welcome to the boards! I also had a full out discectomy in the same location in 2009. I returned to full operational mode about 3 months after and was good for about a year. Then all hell broke loose and I had to have it fused, which was a complete nightmare! It was tough and I am still on heavy meds, but I have returned again to my aerobics classes. It has been 2 years since the fusion. If you do decide to start sports again, first talk to your doctor, and listen to your body. You may not be able to do everything you used to. You have a new normal, and you have to treat your body differently.
  • I'm a year older than you but basically had the same surgery at the same level. I'm 4.5 months post op and in more pain still than when I went in for surgery. I was told 3 months would be the time to return but I'm nowhere near that. Post op MRI showed everything was a success yet I still feel worse... I've been doing PT for 10 weeks and am maintaining low BF% (153 pounds as a 6'1.5" male) but still having lots of issues. Back problems suck.
  • Aaron, I had the micro and not the full but I still have a large prolapse in another disc which wasn't dealt with in surgery (too old) as it was longstanding and I recovered without surgery from that, it took 4 years to recover from that and I would like to touch on why i recovered from both and what really helped me as I feel it might help you.

    After endless appointments with lots and lots of spine experts, chiropractors, physio's, pain doctors etc I must have seen 20 people over 12 months. So what got me on the "real" recovery path.... a very good Osteopath. She treated me with the hollistic approach and focussed allot of the treatment on the other parts of the body where you feel the pain and where you suffer the constraints i.e. oh i can't do that as my leg doesn't stretch anymore or doing that causes a shooting pain etc etc.

    It took 6 months of weekly Osteopath treatments which were full on, working my glutes, my thighs, my upper back, my pelvis, my knees, you name it she worked on it, with focus and real hands on, almost very deep tissue massage style treatments but with her skill and application, really getting to the core of my issues. Basically I got to a stage that my legs and glutes etc could cope with the issue in my back, pain was right down, mobility was right up. I was feeling great and confident in my fitness.

    Osteopath every time for me, for recovery from both non-surgical and surgical and keep at it, it takes a bit of time and pain!

    Best of luck should you explore this route.

  • Hi Icehockeyaaron, I am only jumping in because I too wish to return to the game I love. I was diagnosed with a 17mm spondylolithesis ( had numbing feet and weakening legs while skating, golfing and skiing ) about 7 years ago and blew off any surgery due to the fact of the Severity of the operation and Recovery time. I continued to workout, hang upside down via inversion, skate, snow ski , golf and wakeboard. I honestly felt great until another bout of severe pain hit me last fall. I went back in this year in march and had another MRI showing a now 22mm Spondy. I was told that the wheel chair was next if I didn't get it fused. My wife said your an idiot if you don't get it done ( well not in those words ) so 2 weeks later I was fused from L4 L5 and s1 with 6 screws, Rods, hardware and titanium spacers between the 2 Sections. I am a 54 yo male and am now 5 plus months out. I am still up in the air if I should have had it done or went back to a Severe Workout regime and the diet of a lifetime. I started swimming 2 weeks after and have been lifting, walking, etc and still have symptoms I never had before like numb R quad and odd feeling R foot. I also have now Chronic Hip and Sciatic pain as well as a Strained muscle feeling I can't put my finger on. Unfortunately my top rated Neuro has not even reviewed my CScan with contrast to rule out any defects albeit a month since I have had it done! With being self-employed and my 10K deductible paid I took the opportunity to get knee injections ( bone on bone for a bout 15 years) and had decided to get both knees done with TKR on 12/1. After much debate and fighting the back issues I have opted for the worst Knee so I have at least one leg to stand on. I am disappointing to say the least as I was looking forward to being the Old Bionic Guy out there next summer :) I guess One good knee and a Fused Back will have to do! I am 100% positive I will be returning to the Ice and I know you will find the way back yourself! Keep fighting, Get lean and Get Back out there no matter how long it takes!
    Cheers, Bob......
  • Always keep a goal for yourself, but listen to your body! If you do something and it hurts, stop. After surgery, I went back to coaching baseball, playing golf and other sports. I know what my body will allow and what it wont. Unfortunately, I can't do hardly any sports anymore due to pain and how I feel afterwards.

    If you push it too much, you will pay the price.

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • Thank you guys for the support!!! I'm having sharp pains a lot lately and I am thinking of getting an intejection and then maybe start pt, although I'm not a fan of pt I may just stay on my own routine of light stretching and exercises, I've gained a bit of weight and from what doc says it's the lyrica and norco and motrin that will make it harder to lose weight, uggggg I'm frustrated!!! I'll update you all after the holidays and after the injection to let y'all know if there's any positives from it, fingers crossed!!!
    once an ice hockey player always an ice hockey player
  • 13 years ago I blew out a disk playing baseball. I am positive that wasn't the reason but it was the straw that broke the camels back. I had a c6-c7 fusion and rehabbed myself to the point I could take the field for 1 more season. Well that 1 season turned into 11 really fun and successful seasons. I always had my neck problems in the back of my mind but for 13 years I did everything I wanted to do. I'm 41 now and finished this season on August 22nd and I'll admit to playing through some neck pain the last 4-6 weeks. One week after the season (championship) ended I had excruciating pain in my arm and shoulder blade and knew immediately what was going on. An mri confirmed that my c7-t1 disk is toast and after pt and every anti inflamatory you can think of it looks like I'm heading to another surgery sooner than later. I'm not sure if playing contributed to this but I am glad I got to lace em up and feel fortunate to have been able to compete as long as I did. That said, now that I will have two levels fused I am making a smart lifestyle change and hanging them up for good. Good luck and listen to your body.
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