It is not at all uncommon for major sports figures to announce that they are about to have some type of surgery after their season is over, but New York Yankees starting pitcher James Paxton caught his fans completely off-guard when he announced that he’d undergone a microscopic discectomy just days before pitchers and catchers are reporting for spring training, and that he would miss three or four months of play.
What is even more surprising is that the surgery Paxton had was not a typical microdiscectomy — it not only addressed a problem with his disc, but also removed a cyst that had formed as a result of his condition.
According to reports from insiders, Paxton had been in pain for a significant portion of the 2019 season, and had been attempting to control his symptoms and pain through corticosteroid injections. As the ability to find relief diminished, he and his team determined that it was time for more aggressive steps to be taken in the form of a microdiscectomy.
A microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that involves making a small incision in the skin and muscle in the back and removing the part of a herniated or damaged disc that is putting pressure on the surrounding nerves and causing pain, numbness, tingling and other symptoms. The procedure leaves the portion of the disc that has not been damaged intact so that it can continue to provide cushioning between the vertebrae.
In Paxton’s case, when his surgeon went in to remove the portion of the disc they discovered that he was also suffering from a peridiscal cyst, a rare occurrence attributed to trauma. Because the cyst appears so much like a disc herniation, it is difficult to diagnose without highly accurate diagnostic tools, or in the midst of surgery.
The good news for Paxton – as well as for the many patients who seek minimally invasive spine surgery at our lumbar spine practice in New Jersey – is that recovery from these procedures is straightforward and allows a quick return to normal activities.
Even those facing the physical demands that elite athletes do experience success, with 96% of major league baseball players able to return to play in a matter of months.This is a better result than is experienced by athletes in other sports, including football, hockey and basketball.
The rehabilitation process that baseball players undergo is obviously more rigorous than is true of an office worker: it is focused on regaining the range of motion that they need in order to return to the skills that they need on the field so that they can throw, run, hit and slide, and in Paxton’s case, pitch.
For athletes, recovery aims at regaining core strength first, and then moving on to the more aggressive actions that make them stars on the field.
If you have been experiencing back pain, our lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey can tell you whether minimally invasive spine surgery is the answer for you. Contact us today to make an appointment.