In February this year I (Jonathan) woke with lacerating pain from a prolapsed disc in my neck. I was very concerned about not just how long before I’d be able to work again (and earn a crust), but also how long I would be in pain. In fact, for patients in pain it is usually the only question that they really want an answer to.

Two weeks ago, five months after the disc prolapse in the neck I climbed Ben Nevis by Tower Ridge. Tower Ridge is the reputedly the most rewarding of the technical routes up Ben Nevis. It took 5 hours climbing and scrambling with a guide to top out. Not once did I think about my neck or the pain that used to refer down my arm. As I type this I can feel a little numbness on the left index finger as a residual reminder of the injury, but that’s ok, it doesn’t stop me from doing anything and doesn’t keep me awake at night.

If you have a disc rupture or bulge, you need to know that you’re not going to be in pain for the rest of your life. You will get better if you get conservative (medical speak for not surgery) manual therapy and do your rehabilitation exercises. If you can get low level laser therapy, you’ll get better quicker and more completely too. While I can’t say exactly how long you’ll be in pain, I know you can be functional again in a few weeks and climbing mountains again within months, if mountain climbing is the thing you want to do.

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