View Full Version : post lumbar surgery hike still possible

07-07-2013, 12:49
Hello All,
I am 36m about 18months ago I had a microdisectomy of a ruptured disc L4-L5. I hiked the wonderland trail around mt rainier appx 100 miles about 2 months prior to the injury really flaring up, therefore it could have been partially caused by it of course. Anyway now that I am getting back to normal or as close to as I will be, and back into good shape I am looking at a section hike this fall on the AT. Much less intense than the wonderland trail for sure. Just curious if anyone else has done any lengthy hikes following a similar surgery and if they have had any issues, and how they conditioned themselves. I keep in really good shape myself, but things happen regardless of course. I really would hate to have to give up backpacking, I just want to do it safely so that I do not suffer an injury again of course. thanks ahead of time for any input.

Del Q
07-07-2013, 19:39
Thus far, I have avoided the knife. 37 years of almost daily back pain stemming from a car accident.

Left thigh went numb 3 years ago, permanent nerve damage. On my last section hike in April the pain was severe, just today felt like I could begin light workouts. Hoping to go back out for NH/ME hike in later September. Pain when I got back home until a week ago has been nuts, sleepness nights, left leg goes numb when I stand up, fun stuff.

MRI 10 days ago, bulging disk, L4-L5, have been stretching, hired a Rolfer (1x per week), this week I begin daily Vax D decompression treatments.

I start back with Pilates on Tuesday - to me getting my core REALLY SOLID is critical, for hiking and for life. I also have found that Yoga is a low risk, great way for me at age 54 to remain flexible.

I would go on your hike...........I stretch several times per day and EVERY time before I shoulder my pack. Take 4 ibuprofen in the morning and 4 at night.

07-07-2013, 20:27
October 2010 I had a spinal laminectomy L4-L5. My understanding (the surgeon laughed and agreed) was that he made the hole bigger for primary nerve and trimmed away the bulging disk. I was doing day hikes a month later and snowshoeing in early December. Before surgery I had had severe leg pains getting worse for about 10 months. I tried the steroid shots in the spine three times, each one helped less than the one before.
I have had no leg pain since surgery. I did several multiday hikes the next summer. Sure, I started off slow and easy. No way are my backpacking days over.

The older we get the more likely we are to have health problems. When we quit hiking we will get old.

Slosteppin (sometimes)

07-07-2013, 21:17
April 2012 I had a lumbar laminectony to remove a cyst that completely filled my spinal canal! By Nov. I was back on the trails! I slowly increased my walks/hikes until I could easily walk 5 miles! I did this without any weight on my back ! I then added a pack and again I very slowly increased the weight. I also lightened my pack by 10lbs! My pack for 7 days including food,fuel and water is 23 lbs! I still think I can go lighter!
I just completed a 65 mile hike on the AT averaging 12 miles a day. I had no problems with my back whatsoever! Now my knee,well that's another story! :)

07-07-2013, 21:59
I had a microdiscetomy, it was 5-6 years ago now, I forget the exact disc location at the moment. Anyway, you are well beyond the amount of recovery time I needed to get back to hiking. I was back to hiking in about 6 months, and may have been less I think. Eighteen months should be plenty long to be all healed up. I generally hike weekends and week long hikes and have not had any problems with it from hiking. I used to keep in shape with mainly cardio but for the last year and a half or so I have also added in weight lifting. Try to keep your pack weight light, have decent tread on your shoes/boots so you can avoid slipping and maybe wrenching/twisting at the hips. Make sure all the adjustments on your pack are tight so that it doesn't flop around. The only things my neurosurgeon said to watch out for were horseback riding and downhill skiing.

07-08-2013, 13:09
I had a lumbar laminectony about 20 years ago .... I was back up and hiking in 6 months, just build your mileage slowly.

I had three vertibrae fused in 2009, and the recovery has been much slower. I'm taking my first section hike this month through Maryland.

No high impact sports/activities, make sure you stay hydrated (discs degrade faster if you aren't properly hydrated on a day to day basis, according to my Doc.), take is slow and easy, don't push too hard .... once irritated, the nerves stay painful for DAYS ....

07-11-2013, 13:23
Something I haven't seen mentioned which I guess is common sense but still very important is posture. Before I had the herniated disc I noticed that I was hunched over in any running photos taken of me and I would bet that it was the same when backpacking. Engage the TA!


07-11-2013, 13:50
I have had 2 L4-L5 laminectomies . One in 99 and the second in 2003. I thru-hiked the AT in 2010 and I thru-hiked it again in 2011 because I didn't like my summit pictures. I'm getting ready to do a 3rd thru-hike starting next Wednesday, July 17th heading SOBO this time.
My back has never caused me the least bit of a problem while on the trail.

07-11-2013, 20:31
coheterojo...wow...nice work, I only hope I can become that confident in my durability. How much was your pack weight? I only looking at doing about 70miles or so but trying to keep it 30-35lbs...and thanks to all of you for your informative responses as well

07-11-2013, 20:34
Lighter the pack the less irritation to the back ..... I try to keep mine under 25 lbs

07-12-2013, 14:11
My pack weight was 34 lbs in 2010 and 32 lbs in 2011. That was with cold weather gear and bag(till Waynesboro, VA), 3 days food(to Neels Gap, GA) and 2 liters of water(1 liter was Gatorade so I drank it fast).