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Lumbar Herniated Disc

Rick F

Hi Everyone,

I'm looking for some feedback from my fellow TT members. I have had lower back problems for the past 20+ years ranging from muscle spasms, to bulging discs and as of this past weekend a herniated disc. Over the years I have had a couple epidural pain management injections that provided little to no relief, about five years ago I had an RF ablation for my lumbar facet joints that was a lifesaver for me and allowed me to get back to playing golf on a regular basis.

At the moment, I'm laying in a hospital bed waiting for a neurosurgeon to evaluate my latest injury that occurred on Saturday that has left me unable to walk or even stand because I can't bear weight on my right leg. The ER docs are indicating that surgery is very likely in the next few hours.

While I understand that no two people have the exact same injury, severity of injury, pain tolerance, etc. I'm hoping any of you who may have gone through herniated disc related surgeries could share with me your experiences and the time it took to recover and were allowed to play golf again.

Obviously my first priority is to be able to get back on my feet and lead a regular life, not to mention being able to return to my job but returning to the golf course and my golf addiction is also pretty far up the list, maybe even higher than returning to work. :)

Thanks in advance for any insights any of you may be able to offer.



12 Replies

  1. Gary L

    Sorry to hear about your back. I too currently have bulging left L4 L5 discs,concurrently with sciatica on my left leg. Just had hernia repair golf for 4 weeks.couldn't stretch or exercise.slowly stretching now.using Salompas patches and advil really helped. Played my first round,with my full bag of titleist clubs,riding in a cart last score wasn't important. Just wanted to get out on the wishes on your recovery.
  2. Craig D

    Hello Rick, I suffered a lateral herniation at L4/5 in Sep 2016 while moving a table, spent 5 weeks with a "blowtorch" in my right knee and shin (could not walk, lay down, sit, sleep, etc) until the pain was relieved via surgery. I took to heart given the experience of this surgeon that I had no restrictions after the surgery--I played 18 holes walking 2 weeks later. It helped that I stay in decent shape (I am 49) and I just followed the advice of my surgeon. Rehab was literally to walk (further each day is what was recommended) every day. I have come back from other injuries at various times in my life and I know I am not unique in that. Good luck with whatever your decision is. I hope to never repeat the experience again, but given the same circumstances, would not hesitate to have the surgery.
  3. Don O

    I hope it all works well. It sounds a little scary to operate immediately. I was staring at shoulder surgery, but fortunately it worked out that non-surgical intervention resolved the problem. If you want to compare yourself to a 14 times major winner, he went with multiple consults and eventually when all else failed, a fusion was performed. We don't know yet how that is working. But having the time to get at least 2 opinions and preferably 1 from a major orthopedic center will help you decide on a course for you.
  4. Rick D

    First off, I pray for your recovery. God Bless and good luck. What you're going through is no picnic.

    I ruptured the L5-S1 disk 8 years ago. Lost all feeling in my left leg and have some permanent numbness.

    Doctors advised holding off any surgery until as a last resort and I've done well without surgery. It sounds like you're there, though. In my case I took the doctors and physical therapists advice to heart. Core training and keep myself in pretty good shape for 59. I weigh the same I did in college and am still playing golf at a decent level.

    I have a buddy. Big dumba$$. Was my best man 33 years ago. Weighed 200 then. Now 350. Arthritic hip. He held off the replacement 2 years too long. He was such a hard person to be around [freakin grouch!] I can't believe his wife stayed with him. Docs told him he needed to lose 50 before they'd do hip replacement. Got to 285 before surgery and he looked pretty good. Post surgery everything was going well and he got complacent. Quit the walking and exercise routine they gave him and can't stop shoving food in his mouth. Back up to 350 and he can't walk 18 holes. He fades around 14-15. No stamina. Whatever you do post surgery, listen to what they tell you to do. It may be lifestyle changes that are hard, but do it.
  5. Joe D

    Rick hope all goes well.
  6. Joey L

    Rick, I had spinal fusion surgery on L5/S1 and a year later on C5/6. It has been a struggle to get back to playing golf the last few years but I have managed to not only get back on the course, but, improve my game. I started taking lessons to make sure that my stance and posture are correct so that I don't make things worse. It is important to follow the advice of your surgeon not only right after the surgery but during your entire recovery. He is the expert. I wish you the best of luck and hope that you get back on the course soon
  7. Rick F


    Thank you all so much for your comments and insight. It definitely gave me some food for thought and encouragement that I will have a decent chance of returning to golf in the not too distant future.

    It turns out I'm in a good news/bad news situation with my lower back.
    The good news was I was able to hold off my surgery yesterday. A combination of steroids, pain meds and Valium has allowed me to get back on my feet, first with a walker, then crutches and now this morning just using a hand rail to guide me.

    The bad news, after consulting with two surgeons and my family doctor it looks like a L4/L5 spinal fusion is in my near future. The imaging results show a piece of the herniated disc appears to have separated and is near the nerve. The Docs all said they can get me on my feet and manage the pain but that these types of episodes will only continue to increase in frequency and severity. It looks like I can hold off for a bit (differing opinions say days to maybe a few weeks) and allow the area to settle down a bit but fusion is the best solution. I'm glad to say my preferred surgeon (also a golfer) told me he does a minimally invasive fusion that "gets people back on the golf course". I was very happy to hear that! It was also reassuring to hear that he estimated 2-4 weeks recovery which matched the experience you guys shared with me. I've been doing yoga for two years which helped my back tremendously but got lazy this summer and am paying the price now.

    Anyway, thanks again for the advice and encouragement I really appreaciate it!

  8. Rob_Roth1

    Do you have an exercise plan after you get better? I went to do a TPI evaluation and found out that my hips were so tight that I would have back problems later in life if i didn't fix it.

    Ever since I have been working on my bad zones my body feels better.

    Find someone in your area:

  9. Rick F

    Thanks for the link.
    Due to my history of back injuries I started yoga a few years ago but like I mentioned I got lazy this summer because I was feeling good and playing decent enough golf to drop my hcp under 8 for the first time since the late 90s. I'm paying for the laziness now... It's ironic you mentioned your tight hips, I've always had the same issue and my surgeon during my latest consultation specifically mentioned the link between tight hips, hamstrings and back problems. I hope you caught yours early enough to avoid the path I'm on. I'm going to be 47 next month and the doctors keep calling me young but I have to confess I don't feel so young anymore.

    I live in Indiana just outside of Chicago and it looks like there are many TPI affiliated locations within a short drive. Once I'm released after surgery I think this will be the route I'm going to take.

    Thanks again,

  10. Rick D

    Rick: Your comment that you don't feel so young anymore hit close to home. Last summer I went to see my chiropractor. He asked how I was doing. I told him "Doc, my bed kicked my a$$ while I slept last night!", which brought a chuckle from him. Then a conversation about how he treats a lot of older folks and that the active ones are a lot better off than the inactive. He encouraged to continue to do all the things I do. I turn 59 tomorrow and it's hard to believe I'm that old. But there are days my body tells me I am, for sure.

    Good luck with the surgery and recovery. Please update us on your progress.
  11. Rick F

    Rick D,

    I just saw your message, first off I hope you had a happy birthday! Secondly, your comment about your bed cracked me up too due to many mornings feeling the exact same way.

    I do a mixture of desk and field work at my job so my main form of exercise has been my yoga workouts and golf. I'm intrigued about the TPI evaluation that Rob_Roth1 recommended and am thinking I will be adding that to my workout routine once I get the release from the surgeon.

    I've scheduled my surgery date for the end of August, right after my 47th birthday. Turns out after more testing I will be doing a two level fusion and the surgeon is saying my back will feel 10 or 15 years younger as long as I follow the plan he has for me which includes a lot more walking, both on and off the course, which will be a big change to what I'm used to. He is still saying a return to golf could be as soon as two weeks post-op which is very exciting and encouraging.

    Thanks so much for your well wishes and I will definitely offer updates as I work through my recovery. The encouragement I have received from you and many other TT members has been nothing short of awesome.


  12. Thomas M

    Hi Rick,first of all I hope all goes well with your surgery. I had Major Back Surgery 5 years ago. Double de-compression and 2 bulging discs shaved down,and my spinal cord canal re-widened due to narrowing from vertebrae 7 to 1. I followed the Surgeons Instructions and Advice and was out and about and Walking 5 miles a day within 2 weeks of my Surgery. Stretching and exercises were done in a Swimming pool twice a week,found this to be very helpful with my recovery. Was back playing 18 holes after 4 months. Good warm up and Stretching a very good idea before playing. Happy future Golf Playing.

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