Returning to Rugby After Discectomy

I was wondering if anyone has gone through a similar scenario too myself at the moment, Im currently 22 years old and in November last year I had a discectomy on a herniated L5-S1 disc and a bulging L4-L5 disc following a year and a half of suffering with sciatic pain down my right. Now 10 months on following the surgery and feeling a lot better other than the rare bit of pain and occassional stiffness in my back should I sit for too long when working or driving, and am looking at returning to rugby (playing second row / flanker). 

The surgeon said it takes 12 months for nerves to recover so my target was returning in the new year. I have been attending the rugby training and felt good, although I havent done any contact as of yet. I have also been regulary going to the gym (although I have completely dropped back squats, deadlifts, bent over exercises and are very cautious with heavy weight) and do daily stretches and mobility work so feeling fitter and stronger comapred to before.

If anyone has any experience returning to a contact sport any input would be much appreciated.

Thank You



  • That question would best be answered by your surgeon

  • I spoke too two surgeons and they both said it was possible for me too return playing in the position i play, one surgeon was private while the other was through the NHS (and who performed the surgery) i was just wondering if anyone has had any experiance returning to a contact sport. 

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  • Hi, Karl, I had 2 hemilaminectomies L4/L5 and L5/S1 done when I was 30 back in '93.  The upper disc was actually cracked and pushing on the nerve.  I was playing rugby within 6 or 8 months (played every forward position).  Never got all my left leg/foot function but I went on to do some pretty strenuous stuff in my mid-30s.  Last rugby season I turned 41.  The down side is at 56 I need another surgery as I am old, broken down, and it catches up with you.  Just make sure you are working smart and act your age when you get past 40.  Cheers.

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