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High Impact Sports After L5-S1 laminectomy & discectomy

Started by FLsurfer on 04/17/2015 10:21pm

I am a 45 yr old male who has had degenerative disc disease for 15 years. Over the years I've been able to treat multiple herniations of L4-L5 and L5-S1 with conservative treatments (chiropractic/accupuncture/oral steroids/PT/epidural steroid injections) but I finally had an extrusion of L5-S1 that was not receptive to any of those treatments. MRI showed it was about 10mm x 15mm and was compressing over 50% of the sciatic nerve roots! I had a laminectomy & discectomy on 3/18/15. I was recovering well until about day 9. The radicular nerve pain came back even worse than ever before. I had a repeat MRI and there was a new extrusion that was even bigger than the first one just removed. Exactly 2 weeks after the first op I had another op (4/1/2015). No fun, but it was a success. Now I am just over 2 weeks post op #2 and feeling good but very nervous about failing again. My neurosurgeon has me on very strict restrictions. I can't even lift over 10 pounds. He says I can't surf anymore and that is very depressing. I have a new boat and he says I can't use it for at least 6 months. Contact sports are also prohibited long term. I am only 45 and have led an extremely active lifestyle. I was in the best health of my life before this recent episode started 4 months ago. Is my neurosurgeon just being over cautious or do I really need to make some permanent lifestyle changes?

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Hi! I just posted earlier today, I had fusion of L5/S1, lamenectomy & discectomy 10 years ago, prior to that I was an endurance athlete, long distance hiker, pretty much adrenaline junkie. I was in a car wreck at 35, am now 46. I was probably able to return to about 10% of previous, sorry to be a downer :-(.

Activities before surgery/ accident: 35miles week running, 6 miles swimming, 60ish cycling, 30ish speed skating, and also mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking (long trips), long distance hiking, skiing, etc, no surfing though.

Activities after: walking 5 miles day 3 mo post surgery, cycling 18 to 20 miles twice a week 6 mo post surg. & swimming 1 or 2 miles twice week. That did not last long. I would run off and on over the years when I couldn't stand not to. (probably surfing is to you what running is to me) But this is what a neurologist friend told me: "You can be a mercedes for 5 years and a beat up pinto for the remainder of your life, or just be a chevy forever."
Needless to say I am now a pinto and about to explode.

Up until a couple of months ago pain was for myself, manageable (without narcotics -or rarely) with lots of heat, electro-stem, icy hot, massage, chiropractic. Honestly, I didn't believe I needed to do the "lifestyle changes" therapy they recommend, but I may have been wrong…!!!

I did get about 10 pretty good years, if not put into the context of life before activity wise, but still more active than the average probably. Surfing I would think would be the exact wrong position…I know for cycling I had to adjust my bike to sit straight up or ride recumbent & swimming I had to put a float under my belly (kind of self defeating), lessons I learned along the way.

Afraid I may be facing more surgery soon. Just had steroid injection to the cervical (my third and didn't work- herniated C5/6 & C 5/7) but sciatic pain in both legs now, getting a CT scan with dye (MRI won't work now with instrumentation) in a month.

Sounds like we have similar issues, my injuries were: L5/S1 ruptured, spine separated by more than 50% (spondolysthesis grade 3), herniated L3/4, L4/5, C4/5, 5/6, 6/7, and bonus of bulges in the T zone.
And based on my experience, I am no expert, I really have no idea, but i would say you might want to figure out 'lifestyle changes'. It sucks. I know. But you can find other ways to bond with the things you love even if you can't be on the 'doing' side anymore. And as I write this I'm thinking to myself, bull***, but it is what it is. I've made the best of it, I call it my advance on aging. I don't know if this helps at all but happy to chat if you like.

Good luck :-)
FYI, in 10 years I have never been on one of these forums, but I'm kind of freaked out at my current situation, because so much was taken 10 yrs ago, and was looking for others with a similar timeline. This is what I posted:
10 years Post Lumbar Fusion L5-S1