TRUE STORY: EMILY RECOVERED FROM SPINE SURGERY AND WENT ON TO COMPETE IN THE PRE-OLYMPIC TRIALS
As a collegiate swimmer at Virginia Tech, my physical health was crucial to my success in the pool as well as in the classroom. During the fall of my junior year, I began noticing low back pain as a result of prolonged sitting through classes. I had to constantly readjust my posture while sitting because of the discomfort I was experiencing. As my back pain became increasingly unbearable, my performance at practices was also affected.
The doctors within the athletic department ordered x-rays and sent me to a spine specialist. An MRI of my lumbar spine revealed that I had two herniated discs. I was advised to discontinue swimming to reduce my symptoms and focused on core stabilization, strengthening, and aerobic conditioning with physical therapy and medications. After several months, I was not having the relief I had hoped for. After meeting with Dr. Schuler we developed a treatment plan that would get me back to swimming. After undergoing a discography and discussing surgery with my parents, I had a minimally invasive anterior lumbar fusion.
After my recovery from surgery, I was able to swim competitively for all of my senior year at Virginia Tech and I went on to compete in the swimming Olympic trials. A little more than a year following surgery, I am able to run, bike, and do all other activities pain-free.
My advice to anyone suffering from back or neck pain is to seek treatment immediately. Your neck and back health are crucial for your entire lifetime.