Back Surgery Patients Regain Full Mobility
Friday, 21 September 2012 17:32

Individuals who contemplate back surgery for chronic lower back pain, sciatica or herniated discs are often concerned about the impact that the intervention may have on their post-operative mobility and quality of life. While some believe that it is impossible to regain the full level of physical activity, a medical study suggests that this may not be true, even if the patient in question is a professional athlete.


Researchers from Northwestern University School of Medicine studied a group of NFL linemen, whose performance on the field - including frequent squatting stances that put significant stress on their spine - makes their discs particularly vulnerable to degeneration. The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System reports that playing football alone resulted in more than 450,000 injuries in 2009.

The team reviewed records spanning some 20 years to analyze career outcomes of 52 players who underwent back surgery to repair a herniated disc and found that 80 percent of these linemen ended up returning to play an average of 33 games during three years following the surgery. More than half of the team also played as starters.  The findings, which were published in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of American Sports Medicine, showed that the linemen were able to get back to the extreme and sustained activity of playing football on an NFL level.

These finding are significant for the population at large because many individuals who undergo back surgery are afraid to get back to the same level of activity they enjoyed before the intervention.

“People who have had back problems are often afraid to go out and live their lives after spine surgery because they don't want to hurt themselves and have another herniated disc,” Dr. Bryan Massoud, founder of Spine Centers of America and an orthopedic spine surgeon, noted.  “As a surgeon, that is very frustrating to hear, because we perform these surgeries specifically to help people regain an active lifestyle without the pain.” 

“The worst thing someone can do, is to sit around as if on eggshells,” He explained. "The human body is an amazing, resilient organism that needs physical activity to stay healthy.”  He added, “If football players can play football again, people who have back surgery can resume normal, active lives and will be healthier because of it."

Minimally invasive spine surgery procedures such as endoscopic discectomy and foraminotomy, minimizes the size of the incision, the impact to the surrounding tissues and the risk.  This enables a far speedier and less painful recovery, with patients often resuming normal activities within a few short days or weeks.

If you currently suffer from back pain, our board certified orthopedic spine specialists can carry out the best spine treatment plan for your case.  Call us at 877-722-6008 to see how our back doctors can help you live a chronic back pain-free lifestyle.