Disc Problem

As some of you may know, I was signed to the Baltimore Ravens two weeks ago. After a week of practice I came up with an injury that an MRI revealed to be a herniation in L4-L5.

My next step is to undergo a microdiscectomy. Reputable people have recommended that I have either Dr. Robert Watkins out of L.A or Dr. Isador Lieberman out of Miami perform the operation.

I have also heard of a new procedure called AccuraScope that uses a laser and is even less invasive than the microdiscectomy. I’ll check into that as well.

Recovery time should be anywhere from 4-10 weeks.

Charlie and others, do you have any recommendations as far as physicians are concerned? Any general advice?

Sorry to hear that man. I know exactly how you’re feeling. I had mine done by Dr. Frank Castillon of the North Dallas area. The micro-discectomy is a minor operation and has an 85% success rate. I think it will take a lot longer than 4-10 weeks to get back to full function with all of the atrophy of the multifidi/rotatores. At least thats what every doctor/sports therapist told me.

How exactly did you hurt it? Was it actually playing football, or in the weight room? Do you have any nerve pain yet?

Have your post-op recovery in place. I didn’t know that my patella tendon repair would take all the life force out of me. Be as prepared as you can in case recuperation is harder than expected.

I’m going to see if I can learn more about this new AccuraScope procedure, it sounds almost too good to be true.

Charlie, are you familiar with either one of those surgeons? I know Lieberman was in Toronto for some time.

Here is the website for the AccuraScope procedure.


I was looking at that site yesterday. If I could go back in time, I would have had the AccuraScope done. If you get the microdiscectomy done, you will already be doing 2 weeks of bed rest, and you have to wait 8 weeks before you can start doing light physical therapy. It will be very hard to try to come back to play football after 8 weeks of atrophy and lost training time.

Teammates in Baltimore have come back to playing in as little as 5-6 weeks. Charles Tillman of the Bears is expected to play in the season opener after having the procedure done two weeks ago. These were all microdiscectomy procedures. I think a lot depends on the severity of the herniation and the level of therapy available to the athlete.

What is the severity of your L4-L5? Mine were compressing both of the nerve roots down both my legs.

In your case, you probably have very good physiotherapists to help you. My PT was extra careful with me mainly because I didn’t have a sport to prepare for.

It’s pretty straight forward, no structural issues or anything. The bulge is going out to the left and affecting my sciatic nerve. I have full motor control and no loss of strength in the limb. I’ll recovery quickly and be better than ever.

The concept of the AccuraScope is alluring and I’ll talk with a few physicians to determine whether I’ll do that or the microdiscectomy.

Still waiting on Charlie’s input, I know he has mentioned some Dr.'s that he liked in the past.

Charlie, what is Tony Galea’s area of expertise? I saw that you mentioned him and Wolfhart in the past.

Awesome!!! Congratulations!!:cool:

Thanks, I just need to get healthy and on the field. I don’t want to have to deal with this for the rest of my career.

The main issue besides a quality surgeon is the PT. Ask what the exact timeline is. I would get the minimal surgery IMO. With microdiscectomy some take longer than expected.

Surgery is set for Sept. 3 with Dr. Lieberman in Weston, FL. According to him, I’ll be able to begin exercising in 3 weeks and should be ready to return to the field in 6 weeks. I’m actually excited to get this fixed and be able to perform like I know I can.

geez man - what caused it in the 1st place? sounds very painful.

congrates too on the making the team, nice job

I had three herniated discs long ago. Did not have surgery. I’m guessing you are now much more fit than I was when I did mine. You will recover. You will probably be stronger and better conditioned as a result of your desire to keep your spine healthy. Good luck.

They say that most disc issues subside with time and rest, unfortunately I can’t afford a year of rest. I’m exceedingly confident that I’ll come back better than ever.

Ronnie Lott could not afford to rest, so he cut off his finger to keep playing. But this is your spine, not a finger. Your drive to excel is (probably) one reason you are in the great position you find yourself. Don’t let your drive put you in a bad position. I regret all those times I “warmed up” with loads that should have been work sets. I am certain that many on the board were at one time “bullet proof”. One year from now, would you rather be the guy who tried to come back too early or the guy who made a great comeback? Don’t forget the tale of the Old Bull and the Young Bull. This old fart is done giving advice. Good luck. Seriously.

I hear what you are saying and I’ll do my best to be safe coming back. The challenge will be knowing when to push and when to rest.

What kind of rehab protocol have people had success with similar injuries?

I would strongly suggest contacting Charlie and seeing if you can work with him for a week or two when you’re ready to get back into training. Charlie’s primary specialty these days seems to be repairing athletes, particularly football players. I spent one week with him a fews years ago and the benefit was nothing short of amazing. It’s mind blowing what he can do in just a week. And that was with little old me. It was the best investment I have ever made in my training.