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Just had a discectomy need advice on getting back on "i

NickodemusNickodemus Posts: 94
Hi All,

As the subject line says, having had a prolapsed disc in my lumbar region, I had to undergo an operation called a discectomy where they go in and remove the parts of the disc that are obstructing the nerves (and causing the pain).

The operation was 2 months ago now, so i'm starting to get back in the gym, etc, however, I'm told that running is NOT a good idea ( Sad ), and it's all going to be a very slow progress of recovery. For example, I was allowed to get started on the gym bike last week....doing 8 MINS!!! This was all done at a very light resistance, and sitting fairly upright.

After my 8mins I was somewhat pooped and my legs were distroyed the day after!! I was so disappointed in myself. (Before my back went my 25mile TT pb was 55:53min and 10mile TT pb was 22:37, so I thought i'd be still reasonably fit, but this is just ridiculous!).

So, I'm hoping that someone on here might have experienced the same thing and be able to some kind words of advice. I do have a physio, who is very good, but some re-assurance from one of you guys would be bloody good!!


"Bite off more than you can chew, and chew like hell!!"


  • Mate,
    My heart goes out to you.
    How long have you got?
    How much detail do you want?
    I walked like a Question mark or Constipated chicken for 9 months before I went under the knife for the exact same operation. L4/L5 I think.
    I got out of bed the next morning and walked in a straight line standing up down the hospital corridor!!!
    But it wasnt all plain sailing 10 days later I thought the op had failed n made me worse.
    8 weeks after surgery I went on a mountain bike weekender to Scotland with my mates!
    Innerleithen n Glentress - awesome..
    Took 3 months to settle properly.
    Bought a road bike 10 months post op, and love it.
    Got my first sportive next weekend 80miles n I'm buzzin.

    Hang in there dude, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
    Keep the faith!!
  • Jordan93Jordan93 Posts: 336
    I have never suffered the same injury as you but have suffered a fair share of ones that put me out of action for months. My best advice is to follow what your physio says, don't rush back! In the long term it'll be worth it, just ask your physio what you can and cant do.
  • hopper1hopper1 Posts: 4,389
    One step at a time, mate... It'll soon come back.
    I had a discectomy, L4/L5 about 13 years ago...
    My disc collapsed at work, paralysing my right leg!
    Had the operation, woke up some time later, busting for a pee... I felt brilliant, like a 6 year old kid again, I through back the sheet and walke dstraight to the ensuite for a slash!
    Walking back to my bed, in the darkened room, suddenly the matron type nurse appeared... MISTER LEWIS, she bawled, what on earth are you doing out of bed... Nearly sh!t myself!... I did point out that she could've done me a mischief...
    Don't run... That compounded my previous injuries.
    I count myself very lucky, I just jumped on a bike (MTB) 'cos I could no longer run, and progressed from there. Now on road bikes... Life is good.
    Don't rush it... Try a bike on a turbo at first, so you don't expose yourself to too many risks at once. See how that goes.
    On the darker side, my best mate had the same op about 12 months ago, and his vertabrae was also wrapped in a Ti mesh. When he tried to ride, the mesh caused internal bleeding. Not life threatening, but a set back for him. He is on a bike now, though it's a lot slower than the progress I made.
    Really can't stress the need to take your time, though... You wouldn't want to fcuk it up again!
    Good luck.
    Start with a budget, finish with a mortgage!
  • thetrotterthetrotter Posts: 258
    Had the same operation over 20 years ago. I ignored the doctor's advice, got back on the bike too soon, expected too much, got discouraged and gave up convinced I would never ride again, let alone race. In the event came back stronger than before and did PBs at 10,25 and 50. Just give it time. Everyone heals at different rates, but it will get better. Just keep the faith.
  • Tim MercTim Merc Posts: 11
    Was it the micro version, i.e keyhole, that you had? That's what I had in June last year. I had aftercare physio through the NHS, which they do as a matter of course where I live. It took abo ut 8weeks building up with gentle core work before I started riding again.

    Then of course I overdid it because I was cheesed off by how fmuch fitness I'd lost, started getting Sciatica again. I backed off a lot, and for the last 6-8 months I've been fine, riding, light gym work and boxing workouts. I do believe that a daily routine of progressive stretches and core work have made all the difference. Try and think of getting back on track as a longer term thing.
  • Definately agree with the regular core exercises comment.
    Your biggest challenge isn't getting over the surgery n regaining lost fitness, it's preventing that disc or another one prolapsing again!!
    Core strength is cruicial to supporting your back, simple but boring.
    I done a winter in a village hall with middle aged ladies doing pilates.
    Then got the roadie n I've 'rebuilt' myself from there, dropped 2 stone n have a fairly strong 'deep core' trans abs.
    One step at a time pal.
    You'll get there but it's a journey.
  • Thanks for the words of encouragement / advice guys - much appreciated!

    All of what you've said really is so familiar so far. Even the fact that I went on the gym bike the other day (very light) and have now got some slight tightness / familiar sensations in the my right leg again!!! Thought I'd be back on the op table, but the consultant says it's very common to get these feelings at this point, and if i had a re-occurance, I'd really know about it!

    So, i guess it's a patience game at this stage....the prob is that, like many people on here, I am not blessed with much patience; I just want to get on with it, so this is going to be a test of will.

    Have any of you tried anything like an adventure race after having had this op? I was thinking about the OMM (Original Mountain Marathon), but it would be essentially a cross country run with a pack on, so i can't see the physion being a massive fan!
    "Bite off more than you can chew, and chew like hell!!"
  • I'm no expert so don't quote me but.....
    I'd be confident that you're Physio is saying If you do the core work and habitually develop a strong deep core to support your back properly you'll be less vulnerable than the majority of the poplualtion with their poor posture, overweight, slumped into front of computer / tv bad habits.
    So build a good set of trans abs and take on the world.
    Adventure Race? Hell do 5 of em in a row!!!!
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,601
    I'm going to assume you didn't have the two vertebrea in your spine fused because you didn't mention it. Thats pretty good news. If you had been fused you wouldn't be riding for months at the very least, until the bones healed. In any case the lower back is not something you want to push your luck with. Ive known more than a few people with low back issues and they all say you need to take it very, very easy for a good period of time. Which is exactly what the Doctor most likely ordered. My brother is suffering, right now, with a low back fusion that was supposed to go great(aren't they all?) but now he's pretty much hobbled and coming back at an agonizingly slow rate and he obeyed
    all the rules. Take it easy if you value you back.
  • Thanks again guys.

    Of course, the doc has said to take it very steady, and the physio has tried to keep my hopes up i think, by telling me that I might even be back into rowing in a year or so (don't think i'll be doing that though - i'm going to move on!).

    I opted not to have the fusion as the doc said i'm too young to be taking that kind of step. He mentioned that it puts extra strain on the disc above the fusion, so having it done early in life when you don't necassarily need it may cause problems further up later in life (i'm no spring chicken, having said that...i'm 30), resulting in having the next pair fused as well!

    Slow and steady it is then :(. Got booked in for Pilates at the gym on Wed evening, so we'll see how that goes!
    "Bite off more than you can chew, and chew like hell!!"
  • Just a word of note about your expectations for Pilates tomorrow.
    Don't expect to 'get' too much from it immediately.
    I found it all a bit weird until about 6 weeks in and I started to realise that movements that I was wobbling about n falling over at when I started were now solid and controlled.
    That was as my core started to stabilise my movement.

    It'd be interesting to go back and do another few sessions!!

    Enjoy it but don't expect too much too soon
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