Surgical treatment of lumbar disc herniation no more effective than conservative treatment in competitive athletes.
About 75 percent of all competitive athletes are affected by a lumbar disc herniation during their career. Since a quick return to sports (RTS) is of great importance for this group of patients, surgery is often opted for. And rightly so?
About 75 percent of all competitive athletes are affected by a lumbar disc herniation during their career. Since a quick return-to-sports (RTS) is of great importance for this group of patients, surgery is often opted for.
The researchers investigated whether a conservative approach can achieve equally good results as surgery.
In their systematic study with meta-analysis, the results of the surgical and non-surgical treatment options in question and the individual surgical methods were compared with each other. The study included 1107 patients with lumbar disc herniation, average age: of 28.3 years; 98.2 percent men. It concerned the vertebral segments: L3/L4, L4/L5, L5/S1. 308 of them were treated conservatively, and 799 patients were treated surgically. The surgical procedures used were microscopic lumbar discectomy (MLD), percutaneous endoscopic discectomy (PED), and micro-endoscopic discectomy (MED). On average, 83% of the operated athletes returned to the sport after a good 5 months. Of the conservatively treated athletes, 81.5% returned after just over 4 months!
In addition, the researchers found that competitive athletes affected by a lumbar disc herniation were about 2.5 times more likely to be treated surgically than non-operatively. The researchers could not find a sufficient explanation for this(Sedrak et al. 2021).