Lumbar Herniated Disc

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By Rick F

  • 23 Replies
  1. Rick F

    Rick F
    Crown Point, IN

    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.



  2. 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.
  3. Craig D

    Craig D
    Canton, OH

    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.
  4. Don O

    Don O
    Madison, WI

    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.
  5. Rick D

    Rick D
    Weston, WI

    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.
  6. Joe D

    Joe D
    Minooka, IL

    Rick hope all goes well.
  7. Joey L

    Joey L
    Youngsville, LA

    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
  8. Rick F

    Rick F
    Crown Point, IN


    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!

  9. Rob_Roth1

    San Diego, CA

    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:

  10. Rick F

    Rick F
    Crown Point, IN

    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,

  11. Rick D

    Rick D
    Weston, WI

    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.
  12. Rick F

    Rick F
    Crown Point, IN

    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.


  13. 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.
  14. Doug E

    Doug E
    Urbana, MD

    I revisit this ancient thread today, because I sit here now with a similarly bleak outlook myself.

    Was in the hospital on Saturday after no longer being able to endure the level of pain I had been in for 3 or 4 hours. They had to wheel-chair me in from the sidewalk. The ER doc was nearly useless. He gave me a script of Oxycotin for the pain and sent me home. Told me to call my doctor Monday morning.

    I have since seen my chiropractor who referred me to a neurologist who ordered an MRI. I haven't spoken to the doctor yet, but his office did relay that I have a herniated disk. (L4/ L5). I have some slight numbness in my left leg and feel it's working a little less than 100%. The neurologist confirmed that when I saw him.

    I haven't really had any back problems at all in my lumbar region, though every now and then after a bad night of sleep I would sometimes feel a bit of a knot on one side or the other of my lower spine when I got up. That's it. Usually gone in a couple days. Played golf nearly everyday without lower back pain otherwise.

    Then I got sideswiped three weeks ago by another car (actual a large dually pickup truck) and my lower back flared up the next day. It slowly worsened day by day, until I was in excruciating pain one night after my first time mowing our 2 acre property since the fender bender, on a zero turn mower. It was certainly uncomfortable during the mowing, but by that evening I was writhing in pain.

    The worst part (at that point) was I had already been on the sidelines from golf for a different thoracic back muscle strain for a month when the fender bender happened. Now it looks like it will be months before I swing a driver again. I am devastated about my loss of golf. And extremely worried my pretty decent game will suffer badly from the forced layoff. Who knows what to expect upon my hopeful return. On the other hand, as of this moment I am able to function somewhat normally. If you saw me, you would never think I was injured....unless you knew me and saw how slow and tentative I was moving compared to my normal speed and agility.

    If any others have had this problem in addition to those posts I've already read from a few years back, I would surely be interested to hear your experiences, good or bad. Thanks.
  15. Don O

    Don O
    Madison, WI

    Doug -
    I’ve only had lumbar area muscle spasms, but it still took an ambulance crew to get me off the floor at home and to the ER

    Surgery may be necessary but try for a second opinion. If your chiropractor or sports therapist can develop an exercise program that strengthens that area, you should be able to recover albeit with some precautions or tweaks to your life.

    I can still play as frequently as daily 20 years later. One change I have readily accepted is no more DIY projects involving brick and block. And power post hole diggers. I still do workouts to keep up core strength. The back has to provide extra support when the belly slacks off.

    Good luck in recovery.
  16. Fred L

    Fred L

    Ouch I had same issue. I went for physical therapy a few years ago and purchased a Teeter inversion table. It helped immeasurably. I am back to walking and even carrying on occasion. I wish you luck and recovery.. Still get some spasms now and again but nothing like it was prior to therapy and hanging upside down.. Speedy recovery..
  17. Doug E

    Doug E
    Urbana, MD

    Thanks Don and Fred. Both of you gave me some brightness to my day. PT with a certified TPI sports therapist is on my agenda, once I'm confident surgery isn't immediately 100% necessary. Hoping for a PT script from the doctor. Also consulting with my sports certified chiropractor Friday, who I trust implicitly. Every time I hear of non-surgical positive outcomes from golfers who play the game more than casually, I feel some hope.

    Right now, there isn't much chance in hell of me playing golf in the next few weeks, but I am able to chip and even pitch a little without making things worse by the next day. Couldn't do that last week at all. Couldn't even putt. Now, if I could only get the feeling to completely come back in my left leg, and see full strength once again, I'd really be cooking. (10 days since ER visit, still have numbness and weakness.)
  18. Rick D

    Rick D
    Weston, WI

    Doug: I ruptured the L5-S1 disk 11 years ago. My left leg went numb from hip to toes. Couldn't walk. Had to wait for 2 weeks to get an MRI. Then they were going to schedule to see a doctor the first time another 30 days later! And I could hardly walk! I was frantic. Called a doctor who I golf with occasionally, hoping for a referral. He said "You're what I do". I saw him same day and a hospital visit later for an epidural. Then scheduled physical therapy. Doc believes in treating these injuries aggressively. The traction the physical therapist used was the best thing happened to me. Docs advice was to avoid surgery except as a last resort. My chiropractor and the neurosurgeon I consulted said the same. Studies show in 5-10 years I'd be the same, or even better, than those having surgeries.

    Knock on wood I'm still good. Initially it took a good 6-8 months to get back and there remains some a little numbness. It's permanent. I work out, stretch, etc., and enjoy an active lifestyle. I know my limitations. Things like raking leaves, shoveling, are murder. I no longer run to stay in shape, as the jarring is bad. Running sent me back twice for epidurals. I almost always walk the course and use a push cart. Cart golf kills my back. But I also carried a bag a few times in Scotland back in 2018. A month ago, age 63, I [3 handicap] took down one of our young guns [1 handicap] in our club championship match play, 2&1.

    God bless, keep the faith and keep working. I pray for a full recovery for you.

  19. Doug E

    Doug E
    Urbana, MD

    Thank you for the time and effort to respond. More info to help me decide what to do. I realize everyone's injury is different and what works for one may not be right for another. But, just hearing everyone's experiences helps, particularly since most all have had positive results with their path back to golf, with no or little loss of skills. Gives me some hope.

    Rick, as a result of the pain I endured during and after riding my zero-turn mower a few weeks back, I can understand why riding in a cart would be an issue for you, even though you have been healed for the most part. Quick question, what was your index before the injury years ago? We are similarly aged--you are two years younger--and both have a similar index--you are two points lower. (Ironic, huh?) I am so afraid I will lose the ability to compete with some of the young(er) guns around my course who I often play with. But more importantly, I'm worried about being able to maintain my presently respectable index. I want MORE distance, not less! And I was actually getting that extra distance before this happened.

    Funny, once the initial inflammation subsided over a week or so, I was able to mow once again last week, albeit quite gingerly, with extra cushioning and lumbar support added to the seat. Stopped the Oxycodone within the first couple days of the hospital visit and moved on to a much safer and more mild script for pain. I'm functioning fairly well, though no golf is on the near horizon. (At least no golf from more than 40 yards out! I'll practice anyway I can that doesn't hurt!)

    My planned August order of a new 2022 T100S/T200 combo iron set is now on hold, sadly. :-( I had been champing at the bit to get a custom set in my hands by this fall. Oh well.

  20. Chuck Z

    Chuck Z
    Mt Pleasant, SC

    Could barely walk thirty yards due to pain in left leg up to surgery in Feb 2020. They shaved spurs off L5 and immediately walked out of hospital pain free. Went thru PT and recovery and returned to playing golf in December. Discovered this summer that I have issues with both hips, mostly in the right side. Have had one steriod injection, which provided adequate short term relief. Am scheduled to my Dr on Monday, August 16th prior to coming up to Pinehurst to hopefully, for follow-up. Orthopedist insists that this is the schedule we take plus meds for a short period before considering surgery. All part of the aging process. A busy Sept, Oct, and November, with work and travels, then see what the Dr recommends. Fortunately, this surgery has a short term recovery, so if needed will most likely do early 2022.
  21. Rick, I am 37 and had spinal surgery in Jan 2018 at L5-S1. I had 2 options, fusion or Total disc replacement. I elected for the TDR and I believe it was the best choice. The military had caused by disc issues. I was out of golf for maybe 4 months before I started swinging again and played a US MidAm qualifier late summer to fall of that year. I will add I did not come close to qualifying as my caddy didn't show up and I carried my bag. I almost quit after 4 holes but somehow got through the pain with a 78. Honestly, it took me about a full year to fully recover and I still take medication to this day for inflammation but things are looking great from where I was. I hope yours is as good or better than mine. Good luck!
  22. Scott C.

    Scott C.
    Irvine, CA

    I'm dealing with herniated discs at L4/L5 and S12/L1. Trying to avoid surgery as well and have been treating the pain with steroid injections to manage the pain. It was also a wake-up to get into better shape with a focus on strengthening the core. So far, so good, but it has been a lot of work on my end. I might start including some chiro visits to get better aligned.
  23. David ARK

    David ARK
    Sayville, NY

    Been suffering with back aches forever. Had a spinal fusion L4-S1 back in 2014. Returned to playing a lot of golf but deal with constant soreness all the time. For me, it’s a process to keep the back and the rest of my old beat up body well enough for golf. I recently purchased a Theragun and it has made a significant difference in how I feel. It’s expensive, but has paid for itself already, the thing is magical. I use it a couple times throughout each day. Most importantly, pre and post golf. 10-15 min, then a quick stretch. Really helps to loosen up the muscles. Not just my lower back, but the surrounding muscles that cause strain on my lower back like my hamstrings, calves, achilles etc…Great on the bottom of your feet after walking 18 also. Highly recommended!
  24. Doug E

    Doug E
    Urbana, MD

    Yes, I have a Theragun Elite, as well. Great tool. I was using it before every round. However, not having played now in 2 1/2 months, I find I haven't been taking advantage of it at often.

    I hope to try swinging at a few balls today. You can be sure my Theragun will be part of my preparation to do so, as well as my everyday golf stretches, which I have been trying to continue to do most days since the severe pain from the L2/L3 injury, has mostly calmed down.

    I have thoracic issues too, which, like you, has given me back aches and fatigue for the last few years. Been to PT for it and have a bunch of core strengthening exercises I do for it, but have not been as diligent the last 2 1/2 months about doing them. You've inspired me to get back to work, and to use my TG on my overall back issues everyday going forward.

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