A lady with mountains in the skyline

Jenna Bendinelli

As a collegiate field hockey player, I loved weight training, until I got overzealous while deadlifting and tore my L5-S1 disc in 2016. In the following eight months, I worked with two doctors, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, and several physical therapists to relieve my pain. A series of minimally-invasive procedures alleviated my pain: epidural, SI injection, facet injection, nerve ablation, and a second SI injection.

Over the next four years, I lived an active life which included running, lifting, hiking, skiing, coaching, playing field hockey and volleyball. One day while sitting at my desk, a recognizable deep pain settled into my lower back, initiating what would become a 2+ year journey for relief.

An MRI showed that the only issue was the degenerative torn disc, unfortunately the previously successful procedures failed to provide any relief. It was time to see a surgeon. I had a bone scan and discogram, which confirmed undeniably that the disc was the source of my pain. This left me with the choice of a lumbar fusion or disc replacement. I got a second opinion, and with the support of both surgeons I decided that the L5-S1 disc replacement was my best option to return to an active lifestyle. In 2023, I underwent spine surgery at just 26 years old. After six weeks of recovery, I began two months of physical therapy to build core strength. At three months the surgery pain subsided, and I was able to increase activity. I experienced a setback when I developed pain in my SI joint, which we eased with a steroid injection, and I could continue progressing in my recovery. At six months post-op, I was cleared of all restrictions and started jogging, tried snorkeling, hiked, hit golf balls, and skied. This journey taught me that with patience, perseverance, a little bit of hope, and some help from experts you can find the right recovery path.

New Jersey | Degenerative Disc Disease | Artificial Disc Replacement L5, S1