It’s very easy to re-injure your back after surgery, especially if you have a career that requires constant twisting and bending. So it came as no surprise when we heard that Duke’s basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski, will be undergoing back surgery for a second time since 1994 to remove a fragment of a herniated disk in his lower back. Herniated disks are common in sports, and we talk about them frequently on our site, but treating a herniated disk will depend on what stage the herniation is in and its severity. Here are a few facts about herniated disks and how this injury will impact Krzyzewski’s return to full-time coaching:
Stages of A Herniated Disk
A herniated disk occurs in four stages: degeneration, prolapse, extrusion and sequestration. Degeneration and prolapse often resemble a bulge and are sometimes referred to as “bulging disks.” Extrusion and sequestration are full herniations, meaning the disk has ruptured and the jelly-like substance is leaking out. Each stage can cause different side effects such as radiating pain known as sciatica, balance problems and muscle pain, weakness or numbness. While we don’t know what stage Krzyzewski’s herniation is in, we do know that it is severe enough to cause a tremendous amount of pain.
Herniated disks can be treated conservatively with pain medicine, pain management injections and physical therapy. In some cases, as with Krzyzewski, conservative treatments fail to provide relief and surgery is needed in order to remove the leaked portion of the disk or the disk in its entirety. You can view our SpineU video about lumbar herniated disk surgery below:
What Does This Mean for Duke?
According to reports, Krzyzewski will be out for four weeks and assistant head coach Jeff Capel will take over in his absence. During these four weeks, Krzyzewski will heal from surgery and most likely complete physical therapy in order to build his muscle strength and improve his range of motion. He will also learn proper bending, lifting and twisting techniques in order to prevent future injuries. If everything goes as planned, we will see Krzyzewski back on the court in no time.
While common among athletes, herniated disks can affect anyone due to an accident or injury. It is important to talk to your doctor if you’ve recently had a back injury, if you are experiencing back pain or if you have radiating pain in your arms or legs. There are many treatment options available, and Dr. Chetan Patel at the Spine Health Institute is an internationally recognized spine surgeon who can help. He specializes in minimally invasive surgical techniques that will have you back on your feet in no time. We wish Krzyzewski a safe and speedy recovery!