It’s possible to have an active life after disc surgery: Study

Washington: A new study has shown that people who have had spine-bruising careers can still resume active lives after back surgery.

A Northwestern Medicine study found that 80 percent of NFL linemen – whose spines are especially vulnerable to degeneration – were able to return to play many more games after the surgery.

“Many times after the surgery, people are afraid to go back and live their lives. They don’t want to hurt themselves and have another herniation. If a football player can get back to playing football again, you, too, can resume normal life. Just because you had disc surgery doesn’t mean you are going to be broken for life,” said Joseph Weistroffer.

The research team found that out of the 52 NFL offensive and defensive linemen they studied, 80 percent of the players return to the game and they also played an average of 33 games during three years after the surgery.

“The numbers show they were able to get back to the extreme and sustained activity of playing football on an NFL level,” Weistroffer said.

Most of the time the body can heal itself within six to 12 weeks. If healing doesn’t occur, surgery can relieve the pressure on the nerve root and in many cases, relieve the pain, Weistroffer said.

Post-surgery, patients need to take it easy for up to three months and not lift more than 10 pounds to enable the body to heal. It is also usually beneficial to develop good muscle tone in the back and abdomen to help support the spine.

The study will be published in the March issue of the Journal of American Sports Medicine.