• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Back on the court after back surgery

September 29, 2019

Jamie Ruden knew right away something was wrong. It was the summer before her sophomore year at Arizona State University, and the basketball player was in the gym training for ASU's upcoming season when she felt "a pop" in her back.

"I was immediately worried, but I wanted to push through and continue my work out because during the offseason all I wanted to do was get better for the regular season," Jamie says. "Sometimes, you'll have an occasional pulled muscle or something like that you have to work through."

As time went on, however, it became clear the "pop" Jamie had felt in her back was more than just a pulled muscle. "My back started to get worse and worse," she says. "I started to get concerned that I might be seriously injured. But backs are just so tricky that I put off getting an MRI because I kept optimistically thinking that it was just a strained muscle or general back tightness, and that it would resolve itself on its own with rest."

Playing through pain

Later that summer, however, with no improvement in sight, Jamie went in for an MRI, and the source of the problem became clear. "The MRI revealed I had a pretty seriously herniated disk at the L5-S1 lumbosacral joint in my back," Jamie says.

With the extent and seriousness of her injury revealed, Jamie scheduled appointments with several local doctors in Arizona who all recommended the same thing. "They were hoping my disk issue would resolve itself through rest," she says. "So for the next two months, our strategy was for me to take a complete break from basketball."

At the end of those two months, though, little had changed. "We didn't end up seeing a lot of improvement. That's when I started talking with neurosurgeons, chiropractors, and physical therapists here in Phoenix along with our team doctor," Jamie says. "There wasn't really a consensus about what I should do, which was hard for me because I just wanted to get back to playing basketball. I missed being on the court with my teammates and coaches. I was really starting to get anxious during this time."

Read the rest of Jamie's story.
This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.