T Nation

Thoracic Discectomy


Hello everyone, I recently underwent thoracic discectomy (extraction of in my case 70% of my t11-12 disc). The doctor believes my spine was already in a degenerated condition from years of heavy lifting, then the t11-t12 disc herniated about 6 months ago when I fell off a hammock. The pain was intense for about a week but with some therapy I lowered it to almost non existent, until about 2 months ago I was building a recreational dam in the river of our country house's backyard with my little cousins, and I lifted a 200 pound rock in an awkward way, which not only herniated it worse but the disc ruptured.

Since then my pain got unbearable, I got an MRI done and the doctor decided to do surgery asap since it was pressing hard on a nerve and slightly on the spinal cord, and if unattended the pressure on the spinal cord could become much stronger and lead to some nasty lower body symptoms including partial or complete loss of control of bowels and/or lower extremities.

So I got my discectomy done about a month ago and thank God about 80% of the pain is gone, although the nerve roots were somewhat damaged and I have a perma-flexed middle right abdomen with alternating numbing/tingling/slight pain sensations. Now that is not what worries me most, it is the surgeon's instructions of staying away from about 90% of the activities which brought joy to my life (and kept me fit), including weight training, snowboarding and water skiing. He is worried not only because of my discected disc which is now only 30% what it used to be and my column is less stable/can bear less weight, but also because the disc right below it is bulging and any heavy lifting/impact might herniate it.

Sorry for the long post I just wanted to vent/give some background info for my question: Are there any weight lifting exercises I can do that won't exert much pressure on my spine that I could do not to become a muscle-less bastard for the rest of my life? The doc told me my activities would be reduced to walking, cycling and swimming for the rest of my life, with no high impact/weight activities. I guess my two worse fears are not being able to snowboard, water ski or be muscle-less for the rest of my life. Has anyone gone through this or know someone who has who can confirm if what the doctor is saying is true and/or suggest any muscle building exercises/fun sports I could take for the rest of my life? I'm 24, 5'7, 190 lbs at about 16%bf (stats, especially bf% have gone to shit due to reduced activity and training since I fell off the hammock 6 months ago and I fear this is just a preview of what's to come)

Thanks everyone for taking your time to read such a long post, any help would be greatly appreciated!