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  1. #1
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    Checking back in: Torn disc in lower back

    So I somehow tore a disc between L4/L5 in my lower back. The MRI was last Monday and a week and a half later I got this bad news. I have been sore in my lower back for years from a slip on black ice and landed on my tailbone, buldging discs in L4/L5 and L5/S1. Now at least one is torn.

    No wonder I have been in a lot of pain this summer. I have a guess of when it may have happened but only a guess. They also see degeneration in all of the discs so genetics is working against me.


    So I am in SLC and have been refered to the Smart Clinic on 102nd South in Sandy to do anything I can to avoid back surgery are a ripe old age of 35.

    Anybody been here? There are 4 docs and I would love to hear if someone has been there and who the doc was. I need to make an appt ASAP but first get a copy of my MRI.


    Lastly I would like to add that this news really has messed my head up with all the unknown questions, what I still will be able to do and what I should not be doing. I just hope I can still ski. I would give up boarding in a heartbeat if I am allowed to keep skiing. Too many "sit down quick" on the board and I can jack it up even worse.

    Talk to me......

  2. #2
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    depending on the extent of the herniation you my make a fairly good recovery. Some of the things they will talk to you about are rehab and possible steroid(anti-inflam) type.

    The things you'll need to work on in rehab are likely extension exercises, possible traction and core strength. Stuff like E-stim and ultra sound may also help with the inflammation. Pool therapy can also help due to the partial weight bearing environment. Chest deep = 25% weight bearing.

    Don't hesitate to ask any questions and good luck.
    fighting gravity on a daily basis

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  3. #3
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    Bummer Buzz Bro
    Being gimped sucks.
    Wife doesn't get home till after 8
    Will call Ya and see if she knows docs.
    "When the child was a child it waited patiently for the first snow and it still does"- Van "The Man" Morrison
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinman View Post
    depending on the extent of the herniation you my make a fairly good recovery. Some of the things they will talk to you about are rehab and possible steroid(anti-inflam) type.

    The things you'll need to work on in rehab are likely extension exercises, possible traction and core strength. Stuff like E-stim and ultra sound may also help with the inflammation. Pool therapy can also help due to the partial weight bearing environment. Chest deep = 25% weight bearing.

    Don't hesitate to ask any questions and good luck.
    Sums up non surgical options. I blew out my L5-S1 9 years ago and went non surgical. Swimming helped, and a cortizone spinal took out the pain from sciatica a year later when I re-aggravated it. I wasn't going to sit out another ski season. Took me almost 9 months to get pain free the first time around.
    Silent....but shredly.

  5. #5
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    If I gotta deal with the pain for months more than so be it as long as I can ski. Even if I groom it all year and give up snowboarding, I just want to be able to ski with my daughter.

    I suspect my MTB season is over and that suxors.

    Dibs, thanks a ton for the call last night. Good to have options and good advice.

  6. #6
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    Swimming is def. good so far. See first doc tomorrow, then will see 2 others for more opinions.

    Been stretching a good bit and that helps a ton. Crunches hurt though currently so I am not doing those.

    Hoping for decently good news tomorrow.

  7. #7
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    If you're "only" feeling pain/tingling i.e. no numbness or loss of motor function, then the prognosis is actually fairly good. Resist the urge to surgicate, unless you find yourself in the latter category. I didn't and it was a huge disappointment/waist of time and money. It will never be 100% again, but 80-90% is entirely realistic, with patience and good therapy.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by PB View Post
    If you're "only" feeling pain/tingling i.e. no numbness or loss of motor function, then the prognosis is actually fairly good. Resist the urge to surgicate, unless you find yourself in the latter category. I didn't and it was a huge disappointment/waist of time and money. It will never be 100% again, but 80-90% is entirely realistic, with patience and good therapy.
    Believe me, I don't want cut at age 35. Appt at 1 today, first one at least.

  9. #9
    =FLO= is offline www.coloradofreeskier.com
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzzworthy View Post
    Believe me, I don't want cut at age 35. Appt at 1 today, first one at least.
    Please see my thread below this, I was dealing with the same exact same problem in 2002. Mine may have been more severe as I was dragging my left leg and it would go numb all the time. If you can avoid surgery in any way you should. They are going to try extensive PT, and possibly some epidural steroid injections. If you can manage the pain through these techniques it is your best option, surgery will weaken the disc strucure in the future and require further surgery (I just had a fusion). The injections helped me for a few days to a week, but then I would just be miserable again. When I had the 2002 discectamy my nerve pain was instantly gone and I was able to ski a strong 6 seasons on it, but most people who have a discectamy develop degenerative disc disease like me.

  10. #10
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    Unfortunately the MRI report says there is a decent amount of degeneration as I first budged the L4/L5 and L5/S1 discs in a work accident 10 years ago.

    Now it tore.

  11. #11
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    Wink

    Well, the torn piece is hitting my Sciatic nerve so that is one negative. Most likely some steriod epidurals to hopefully keep the inflamation down so the piece possible moves off the nerve. PT of course and if I decide to see this doc he mentioned to my dismay a procedure to go in microscopicly and cut the torn piece off and out of the way. That is where all the pain is coming from, the nerve. Well most of it anyway. Need to curtail imflammation.

    Doc said he is not a fan of narcotics at all and advised me to not take anymore. He is fired. Hate that mentality. If I go to this place it will be with another doc not of the religion. That really annoys me about living here.

  12. #12
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    Hate to say this, but I didn't find painkillers (Percs, Vikes, etc) any big help for sciatica, and I was dosing it pretty heavily for a while. Generally, I found lying on my back on a carpeted floor with my legs propped up on a chair or coffee table helped some. Be thankful if you an drop a deuce pain free and wipe, somehow that didn't cause me pain.

  13. #13
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    Loritab and Flexeral combo seems to work. Not taking so much I can't poop, been there done that, not again.

    I have found the best relief in using this twice daily for 10 minutes each, kind of like traction:



    Parentals got me this years ago and now it has really come in handy.

    The website

  14. #14
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    ^^^flexion for a disc injury is not a great idea. Lots of Extension please. Add some traction if extension alone is not helping.

    Extension helps re-centralize the disc material that is protruding. Flexion make it protrude to the posterior aspect more and increases the pressure on the nerve.

    That contraction might produce some gentle traction but make sure to avoid repetitive flexion.
    fighting gravity on a daily basis

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  15. #15
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    In laymans terms, flip over?

  16. #16
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    no I think lying on your back on that thing would be uncomfortable for anyone. more of lying on your stomach and pressing your chest off the floor while keeping your hip down.
    fighting gravity on a daily basis

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  17. #17
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    Gotha. The one thing this body bridge does do is traction. It pulls the low back open a bit more and after a day on my feet and sitting, it does feel great. But am I doing more harm than good with these stretches?

    I do lay on my stomach on this and lift my torso up as one of the strengthening exercises and that helps too.

  18. #18
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    And this is big news as well.

    From 2 docs I am to ski this year and conseratively. Snowboarding bad.

    The snowboarding with the occasion butt slam to hardpack from losing the back edge has to stop. It is just killing my back and could injure it more. So only on large pow days am I "allowed" to board and make sure I stay on my feet. Even sitting down in a kind of plop to strap in is wearing and tearing my discs.


    Soooo, I need some new comfy ski boots. Least I get some gear out of this.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzzworthy View Post
    Doc said he is not a fan of narcotics at all and advised me to not take anymore. He is fired. Hate that mentality. If I go to this place it will be with another doc not of the religion. That really annoys me about living here.
    Don't take this the wrong way Buzz, but your doctor is somewhat correct in trying to steer you away from narcotics. It's sad, but true, that one of the common causes for narcotic addictions is chronic back pain. We see it every day, every hour in the ER. I'm not being cynical, just telling you why your doctor is trying to avoid the use of narcotics. Not prescribing narcotics is not a Utah cultural phenomenon, it's your doctor trying to do the best for you, even if that seems short sighted.

    My wife had a microdiscectomy 3 years ago after suffering for 8 months with heinous sciatica, foot drop, etc. She also has degenerative disc disease. After rehab, cortisone injection trials, prednisone trials, she finally and reluctantly decided to have back surgery.

    For about 6-8 months after surgery, her pain was still present and perhaps worse at times. She was quite discouraged. But after that time frame, she made a slow, gradual recovery and is now skiing, climbing, hiking, biking, crashing motos, etc. She still has occasional sciatica, and needs to still be careful, but she is WAY better off than before the surgery. Post op she took a total of two lortab, then just ibuprofen and tylenol.

    You have the benefit of being a young, healthy, active, and more importantly, not overweight. I'm not saying you should rush to surgery, but while you hear many horror stories, I thought it might be refreshing to hear a story from someone who had a positive outcome.

    Best of luck to you and I sincerely hope you find some sort of relief from your pain.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinman View Post
    no I think lying on your back on that thing would be uncomfortable for anyone. more of lying on your stomach and pressing your chest off the floor while keeping your hip down.
    oh man, significant to unbearable pain in my front left abdomin trying to do that both on the floor and the body bridge thing.

    Doc needs to look at that???



    D, thanks man. I got a bottle of 60 2 weeks ago and have 56 left. Prefer to poop and can handle the pain tolerance currently with the flexeral once a day, on a bad day twice.

    I am moving positions every 3 minutes it seems to be comfortable and then sometimes simply stretch. I want to build my core up a lot better without aggrevation but as fast as I can to help support my 180 lbs. I should be about 10 lighter. I can blame only the empty cans of Natty Light for that.

    I have a plan. I have things that I can do to help me get through this. I have new things like swimming to help. I need to take advantage of all this now to get to the point I can start skinning as well. I look forward to forcing myself to two planks this year and the up can only help the fitness and back strength.

    And if it comes down to having the tear surgically fixed, well, we can talk after the snow season. The bike trails can dry while I heal from any procedure that may benefit me after I explore all other options.

    I am glad to hear a success story of a back surgery. I will be in touch D.

  21. #21
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    I'm not an ortho/neuro spine doc obviously, but I was under the impression that herniated discs can possibly respond better to cortisone injections than what my wife had, which was a bulging disc.

    Perhaps a cortisone injection is an option for you. It's pretty non-invasive. You just go have it done under fluoroscopy, essentially laying on a table and having the needle guided to the exact location with the aid of real time imaging.

    My wife still sleeps with a pillow between her legs when on her side and under her knees when on her back. Also, as you know, no prolonged sitting, or standing. Change your position frequently, get up and walk around, no heavy lifting obviously. Ibuprofen 800mg three times a day with some food is obviously good as well.

    Again, best of luck. I had 6 weeks of sciatica that caused the sole of my left foot to go numb. Somehow I was lucky, and it went away. But it was an incredibly painful and frustrating experience. Back pain is a bitch, it's just unbelievable how no matter what you do, it still hurts.

  22. #22
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    When I first buldged the 2 discs I had the cortisone epidurals and do plan to go that route again for some relief and chance the inflamation will go down enough the tear part could move out of the way.

    I also do the leg pillow thing and work is looking into an adustable setup for standing and sitting since I am in front of the computer all day. Yes, I change positions frequently and just the ride into work in the car sometimes is too long to sit.

    Yeah, this sucks but I will get through it one way or another.

  23. #23
    =FLO= is offline www.coloradofreeskier.com
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzzworthy View Post
    When I first buldged the 2 discs I had the cortisone epidurals and do plan to go that route again for some relief and chance the inflamation will go down enough the tear part could move out of the way.

    I also do the leg pillow thing and work is looking into an adustable setup for standing and sitting since I am in front of the computer all day. Yes, I change positions frequently and just the ride into work in the car sometimes is too long to sit.

    Yeah, this sucks but I will get through it one way or another.
    There is also a medication called neurontin that focuses solely on nerve pain. It is not a narcotic, but may help settle down some nerve pain. And In my case I had to be heavily medicated with 2 10/325 percocet and 10 mg valium just to sleep because every movement hurt so bad. Post op I am on the same but also 60 mg of oxycontin 3 times a day. Utah docs sound like they suck ass. If you are in extreme back pain, you need pain killers. I have cut off the oxycontin and am only taking the percocets if I am in pain, valium if I am having spasms, I don't feel I have a very addictive personality and have been able to almost quit taking them all. It's all in your mindset. Go to a different doc that will give you some meds.

  24. #24
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    Damn, you were higher than a kite. I have always turned down Oxy as I do have an additive personality, just look at the board name I picked years ago.

    I have loritab and flexeral so I can get by. I just can drive on that stuff so I end up not taking it a lot and just dealing with being uncomfortable.

    More doc visits to come, just gotta wait to get in.
    Sorting all this out and the insurance thing and who takes what is damn near a full time job.

  25. #25
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    Wear good shock absorbing shoes as well. Avoid walking around barefoot on hard floors, etc. as much as possible.

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