Return to Play, Performance, and Earnings Analysis After Lumbar Disc Herniation in National Hockey League Players

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Global Spine J


STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.

OBJECTIVE: Professional hockey players have a high incidence of lumbar disc herniations (LDH). The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of LDH on the performance and financial earnings of National Hockey League (NHL) players.

METHODS: NHL players who sustained a LDH were retrospectively reviewed utilizing an online database and a 2:1 matched control cohort. Player performance and game usage was compared at one- and three-season(s) pre- and post-injury season within the cohorts. Injured and matched players were divided into 3 groups based on the player's adjusted index season salary.

RESULTS: A total of 181 players were included, with 62 LDH players matched to 119 healthy controls. Return to play after LDH was 79%. The LDH cohort had fewer seasons played throughout their career compared to the matched group (12.5 ± 4.3 vs 14.2 ± 3.8; P = .031). At 1 season post-index, the LDH cohort had significantly fewer goals per 60 and points per 60 when compared to pre-index. At 3 seasons post-index, the LDH cohort exhibited a significant decline in time-on-ice per game played, goals per 60, and points per 60 compared to pre-index.

CONCLUSION: The majority of NHL players who sustained a LDH returned to play (79%) but had shorter careers overall and decreased performance outcomes when compared to matched cohorts at both 1 and 3 seasons post-injury.

PubMed ID



ePub ahead of print

First Page


Last Page