BOSTON — Dennis Seidenberg underwent successful back surgery last Thursday, Sept. 24, and is on the road to recovery.
He is expected to be sidelined for about eight weeks, until mid-November. In technical terms, Seidenberg had a lumbar microdiscectomy performed by Dr. Louis Jenis at Mass. General Hospital that repaired a lumbar spine disc herniation.
After a long offseason, that was not the way Seidenberg would have liked to begin the 2015-16 season. The even more frustrating part for the defenseman is that he doesn’t know exactly how the injury occurred.
“Usually, when something like that has happened, you’re like, ‘Oh my God,’ during a movement or exercising somehow,” Seidenberg said on Monday morning, addressing media for the first time since training camp began.
“But I woke up that morning (Monday, Sept. 14) — just feeling that nerve pain, I had a feeling in the back of my leg, and then eventually shooting down my calf.”
Seidenberg notified the Bruins’ training staff before camp opened, went to see the doctor, got an MRI and it showed nerves being pinched (L5-S1). The doctor had him wait a week to see if it went away on its own — sometimes that happens. For Seidenberg, it did not, and they went ahead with the surgery.
“What timing,” said Seidenberg. “You work out all summer, especially if it’s a long summer like this, and then you get ready to get started and you’re out for eight weeks. But again, there’s nothing I can do right now. All I’ve got to do is stay positive and go from there.”
The blueliner will next see the doctor in two weeks, on Oct. 9. He has to wait for the incision to heal and then will find out what he can workout-wise with recovery.
For now, he’s been staying active by going on long walks around the North End and waterfront, which he said add up to about two to three hours of walking per day.
Seidenberg lost half of the 2013-14 season due to a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee, before suiting up in all 82 games for Boston last season in 2014-15.
He’s had the experience of dealing with injuries. He’s never had to deal with a back injury, though, and has been talking a lot with Chris Kelly, who dealt with the same injury at the end of the 2013-14 season.
Luckily for Seidenberg, they were able to perform his surgery before any muscle atrophy kicked in — something that debilitated Kelly so much that had to miss the 2014 playoffs and wasn’t able to do much at all for a span of six weeks.
“We kind of nipped it in the bud pretty quickly,” said Seidenberg. “So hopefully that helps in the recovery.”
“I didn’t have any pain. I just had a numbness, but my calf wasn’t firing, I couldn’t push off,” he said. “But after surgery, I was walking the same day, I was going for walks and trying to get that calf firing again. So, so far, it’s been good.”
Missing eight weeks isn’t ideal for Seidenberg or the Bruins’ blueline. The 34-year-old was coming into the season healthy and raring to go.
When General Manager Don Sweeney announced the injury news on Sept. 23, he disclosed how apologetic Seidenberg was to him.
“It’s not something he had hoped would happen to himself, first and foremost, and he’s a proud guy and a team member, and he takes that to heart,” Sweeney said. “So he was apologetic, and said he’ll do what he can to get back, and that’s what you appreciate in a guy who cares.”
Seidenberg is well aware of the Bruins’ situation on defense. It will be a younger back end to start the season, and he can only hope that the young blueliners gain valuable experience until he’s able to return.
“Eight weeks is still pretty long — missing any time is not good — but like you said, it’s the start of the season,” he said. “And hopefully I get to play a good amount of games and be good.”