Baseball player eyeing surgery for back pain symptoms

May 16 2011
When Atlanta Braves pitcher Peter Moylan developed low back pain, he proceeded to follow the advice of most healthcare practitioners: take it easy and use painkillers.

Unfortunately, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reports that this conservative approach appears to be failing, as weeks of epidural injections and rest have not relieved the player's pain.

So the news source says that the Australian-born athlete may soon be heading to the operating room for back surgery, something about 200,000 Americans do every year.

Moylan told the newspaper he will still seek a second opinion, but a surgery is likely since the pain remains a problem, and an MRI conducted in late April showed that he had a bulging disc in his lower back.

"The problem is it's gone from stiffness to leg pain," he said, quoted by AJC.

Spinal discs are cartilage cushions that separate the vertebrae, preventing them from rubbing against each other and allowing for spine flexibility.

When the contents of the cartilage extend outside the space they normally occupy, a diagnosis of bulging disc or herniated disc is typically made. While it can occur in younger people as a result of an injury - which is what sometimes happens to athletes - the condition is most often encountered in older individuals, and is considered to be part of the aging process, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Unfortunately, a bulging disc often causes significant discomfort or pain. That is because the protrusion can press on spinal nerves as they exit the spine. Depending on the nature of the pinched nerve, the pain can be localized or perceived as a shooting pain in the leg or even arms. Shooting leg pain is often referred to as sciatica.

As for Moylan, the pitcher remains optimistic. He told AJC that he hopes to be able to return to the field later this season.