Spine Athlete ::: Brad's story

Herniated disc

Diagnosis: Herniated disc at L5-S1

Treatment: Epidurals, followed by laminectomy and discectomy

Neurosurgeon: Paul Cohen, MD

Initial Injury: I’m not sure exactly when I hurt my back. If I had to guess, the initial trauma happened in a sledding accident when I was about 11. I was sledding down a hill, got turned around, and hit a tree. Over the rest of my teenage life, and into my 20s, I went to the doctor several times for pain in the lower right side of my back. Each time I was told I was overdoing it and to take anti-inflammatory medication. After going to the doctor 9 out of 11 years for the same back pain, my doctor ordered x-rays and diagnosed my condition as mild scoliosis.

Turning point: Another year passed and the back pain was getting exponentially worse. The pain took much of my life away. I wasn’t able to play basketball or even throw a baseball. I was hunched over, unable to stand straight up. I went back to the doctor, who this time ordered an MRI. The results indicated that I had three herniated discs. My first neurosurgeon told me I would have to live with this pain forever and I wasn’t a surgery candidate. I tried epidurals, but I was in more pain than when I started.

My physical therapist, Julie Rigling, of Oxford Physical Therapy, recommended Dr. Cohen, of the Mayfield Clinic. He saw only one herniated disc, at L5-S1. We tried epidurals again and it was a much better experience. The epidurals helped the pain subside for about a year while I also participated in physical therapy. I was able to be active again and even tried out for the Ohio State University Club Baseball team, a true milestone because I felt that back pain had cut my baseball career short in high school. I had made it to final cuts before my back gave out again. I was unable to even swing my bat. In 2008 Dr. Cohen wanted to try one last epidural. When it still hadn’t kicked in after a month, I made the decision to go ahead and have surgery. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I was 22 years old.

Being a spine athlete: I shot my first basketball six weeks after the surgery, and I gradually got back into working out. The pain in my right leg was gone. I thoroughly enjoy playing basketball and I finally got back to swinging a bat, albeit a softball bat. I take good care of my body when I compete, and I keep my core muscle group strong to take the pressure off of my back muscles. On top of that, I have learned to lift with my legs and not my back.

I couldn’t be happier with the decision to go with Mayfield. Dr. Paul Cohen gave me my life back. I was always athletic, but I can’t recall ever feeling this strong and great about my body. I made a great choice with Mayfield.

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Spine Athlete Story Disclaimer -"Brad's Story" is about one patient's health-care experience. Please bear in mind that because every patient is unique, individual patients may respond to treatment in different ways. Results are influenced by many factors and may vary from patient to patient.



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"Prior to my surgery, it was a struggle to even put my socks on by myself. Sometimes it was so difficult, I went without. I was so limited in my flexibility that I couldn’t touch my knees. Once, while trying to take a shower, my body locked up and I was in so much in pain I ended up in the emergency room. I was treated with fairly high doses of muscle relaxers and pain medicine."