There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

The main site has all the formal medical articles and videos for you to research on.

Athlete needs advice

I've always had back pains for 20 years now (I'm 39) It started when i was working at UPS with all the heavy boxes. But it really didn't start bugging me until I was pregnant almost 5 years ago and it got bearable. However this last year it has been superbad. I ended up in the ER in December where I couldn't walk, go to the bathroom etc, It was horrible, I couldn't even sit without pain, standing up was the only thing that helped me. So in 2001 I was diagnosed with herniated discs L4/L5 and the doc said I was too young and healthy to have surgery and to get PT and keep being active. Now this pain is NOT a herniated disc pain, the doc this time says its a mild disc injury and there was nothing to do, he wish he could cast it but obviously cant. I went to PT for 4 months until I "graduated" and started working with a trainer at my gym. I gave up ALL my sports that I was playing: skiing, soccer, softball, kickball and volleyball. Sports is my life. I went to hawaii this past weekend for a wedding and I dove into a wave to wash off the sand and i re-injured my back again. I am SO MAD. I don't know what to do. My cousin had the same thing as me and she had a spinal fusion surgery and she is feeling so much better. My husband wants me to do the shots first before the surgery. I just want to get better asap. Im supposed to start looking for a job in the Fall when my daughter starts kindergarten and I don't want to get a job and tell them I have to have time off cuz of my back.

I want to have surgery but Im terrified I wont be able to play sports again. I honestly can give up softball since that's the most twisting, but skiing?! I don't think I can give up that.

Anyone an athlete here and able to continue playing?

Thank you!


  • smartens162smartens162 Manitoba, CanadaPosts: 448
    My physiotherapist is not a proponent of surgery, but conceded that when 3 different surgeons said I needed surgery, it was hard to argue that.  I went to him before surgery, and continued (once safe to resume) after surgery, as I developed scar tissue that gave me grief.  You should be aware that scar tissue can be another problem you are inviting if you have surgery, not a whole lot of guaranteed preventative measures you can follow there, or so I'm told.  Have you consulted with surgeons, or just going on what your GP says?  I've had discectomy at L5-S1, and re-herniated almost a year post-op and once again waiting to hear what surgeons will recommend.  But all this time since the worst happened, I have discovered aquacise as a great way to work out without impact and further injury, building core strength which is so important if you have a 'bad back'.  I've also been able to resume walking for exercise since first surgery, even with re-herniation ( this point, not sure if that'll always be the case as things digress).  My point is, you can probably get good guidance as to what activities are OK whether you have surgery or not.  You may have to change your expectations about doing some of the more physically stressful ones.  That said, I know there are athletes on this forum who have resumed things like skiing and running post-surgery, hopefully they will respond here.  But I think it is worthwhile to have a couple of surgeons' opinions on what your future holds.  All the best to you!
  • andyalbanyaandyalbany albany nyPosts: 5
    Get a second opinion.  It sounds like you keep re-aggravating yourself.  I would do least possible surgery wise  to get rid of the pain.  You are prolonging the inevitable.  My advice is to get a microdiscectomy and don't rush back into anything physical.  Give it 6 months at least to heal.  Get yourself pain free and accept fact that you will need to cut down athletics by 50% and be very careful with any bending or need to temper or own expectations and what your back is able to do moving forward.
  • advertisement
  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,496
    edited 07/26/2016 - 6:40 PM
    welcome to the spine-health forums aceskrbabe16.  i hope that you find as much value and support here as i have found.

    i agree with andy that getting a second opinion would be a good idea.

    please click on the following link for some helpful information to get you started on the forums:   welcome to spine-health  


    Read my story at Bruce - My Story
    ACDF C4-C5-C6-C7, and getting better every day
    It has been a process of healing, learning, exercising, and resting - and figuring out when to do which.

  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 995


    If I was in your shoes I would follow your husband's suggestion of trying the ESI shots first.  This sometimes works and sometimes not... it just depends on the individual.  I also agreee with Andy that you will have to consider some lifestyle changes going forward.  Regardless of whether you get surgery or not... your back has been messed up by over stressing it and it will never be 100% again... so you must learn to be "kind to your back" for the rest of your life if you want to avoid further problems.   Like all of us this is not something that's easy to hear or accept but unfortunately it's a fact of life.  Maybe you can replace skiing with swimming... it's something I now do 4-5 times a week and it brings with it very little risk of further damaging my back.

    Harry - 65 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • Nicholas_IINNicholas_II CroatiaPosts: 65
    edited 07/27/2016 - 12:40 AM
    I was not on good terms with sports most of my life. Unill my back issues became more severe and then I had to start swimming regularly and doing some exercise. Then, I started to love it, especially at the gym and converting fat into muscles.

    My PT also wanted to avoid the surgery. But then it got really bad, I had such an instability of the spine that I thought I would get ripped at half spontaneously. I had sought three neurosurgical opinions; all of them were unanimous that its too difficult to operate. So, I was left to die, but since I was persistent, I got in touch with one of the best Europeans neurosurgeons and got urgent surgery in May. Now I can expect to live long.

    But, when I was told what I can do and what I cannot, I got sad a little bit. The good thing is that swimming is a must, but exercising with weight is limited. I had no problems to lift 20 kg at once, and now I cannot lift more than 5 kg. And when I lift it, it should be only from a position that does not affect the spine. 

    Herniated disc surgery is an easier one, but also involves restrictions on doing some excessive sports. In your case, perhaps fusion would be an only option (but you should of seek second opinion), which would put more restrictions. But what is good with sports that there is a huge variety in what you can do. In any case, even with more severe surgeries like multi-level fusions are, you will not be freed of physical activity. At contrary, you'd must continue being physically active so you do not loose the muscle strength. More muscle strength, less spinal problems. But it must not be extreme!
    Kristijan (33)

    St. post vertebrosynthesis transpedicularis Th11-Th12-L1-L2 sec Expidium, Stabilization (10.5.2016.)
    Scoliosis THL Gravis (as of age od 13)
    Protrusio disci L3/L4
    Radiculopathia C6C7 bill, C8Th1 dec, L3L4 i L5S1 bill
    Hemangioma Th8
    Sy CC et CB
    Sy thoracale
    Sy LS chr

  • advertisement
Sign In or Join Us to comment.