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  1. #1
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    Bulged/Herniated Disc advice?

    Hey guys,

    I have been having back problems off and on throughout the last few years, but for the most part it has been very manageable. A couple of weeks ago I hurt my back on a backpacking trip and last Friday I found out that I bulged L4/L5, and herniated L5/S1. My wife is a PT, so I'm in good hands, but was wondering if anybody else has had any luck with specific treatment? I'm scheduled for a cortizone injection (local to the L5/S1 disk) on Wednesday that is supposed to bring down the swelling and allow the disc to heal, but I'm curious, what will I be able to do after? Pre-hernation, I did a lot of ww kayaking, rafting, backpacking, skiing, road and mtn biking, running, etc. Thoughts? Anybody have any good or bad experience with the cortisone shots?

    Seth

  2. #2
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    ask her about some traction. Traction can help reduce the bulge. I've seen quite a few peeps get better with some traction and extension exercise.
    fighting gravity on a daily basis

    WhiteRoom Skis
    Handcrafted in Northern Vermont
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  3. #3
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    Doing the traction and extension things also. They really do seem to help so I'll keep doing them too.

  4. #4
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    On the advice of my naturopathic healers, I rubbed St. Johns Wort oil on mine every day for a year and it seems to have worked wonderfully.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by splat View Post
    On the advice of my naturopathic healers, I rubbed St. Johns Wort oil on mine every day for a year and it seems to have worked wonderfully.
    Splat, I can't tell if you're pulling my leg or not. Did you know for sure that you herniated the disc? Did you do anything else?

  6. #6
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    I herniated mine about 6-7 years ago when I picked up a job as a union carpenter building the village at squaw. Boss had me put on a full harness and hang out over the edge of the roof to unload a forklift of lumber that came up a couple feet short of the roof. Basically, I planted my feet against the edge of the roof, then had the guy belaying me give me enough slack to get my body out horizontal, then I would grab the lumber and swing armloads of it up onto the roof. At one point of the dip, twist and throw, something went. But the pain came out my chest. I thought I was having a heart attack. Took ten to breathe through it and finished my shift. Woke up the next morning and it took a couple hours to get to the car and drive myself to the hospital.

    Long story short (kinda ), I got an MRI, lots of pain drugs and then went holistic. Both my orthobionomist and my homeopathic doc told me to rub st. johns wort oil on it every day for a year. Totally went back together. I also got innumerable orthobionomy sessions and a couple rounds of prolotherapy injected around it as well. It's fine now.

    It happened in late October and I never missed a day of skiing that year because of it.

  7. #7
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    I did two discs chucking myself off cliffs, I can't remember the numbers S5/5/3/2, whatever, two discs, both S. I had really really bad sciatic pain, it was driving me mad. Doctors told me I'd never really get to ski again. I was having some physio but it wasn't really helping, I got more help from this book: Treat Your Own Back by Robin A. McKenzie.

    Then a friend of mine persuaded me to go and see her hippy quack. I will never call hippy quacks, hippy quacks again. This guy was a naturopath, osteopath & acupuncturist. He pretty much got me skiing again, pain free, in 5 weeks.

    My injury was my lower back and therefore gut area, and my guts and blood weren't doing so good, even though I thought I ate healthily - wholemeal bread / pasta / rice etc. I kept a diet book for two weeks, while seeing him once per week for 40 mins. He only did a little physical manipulation and acupuncture sessions. He then made me stop eating wheat, meat & dairy for two weeks. After one week I felt better, after two I was pain free, gone.

    Started training to get fit again, took up telemark skiing to reduce the impact on my back and now I telemark for the first couple of months of the season to get fit (especially my core) and then alpine. So by mid winter I'm charging and mini hucking again.

    The meat, wheat & dairy thing has worked for others I know since, it really lets your whole body heal so the body can start healing your back. Sounds a little gay but it works. If I've been over doing it I detox now every once in a while just to let my body & blood be at it's optimum.

    PM me if you want, I understand what happened a little better than my brief explanation here but stories of oscillating nerve endings written in a hurry will sound shit...
    i wish i never chose that user_name

    Whitedot Freeride

  8. #8
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    Your wife probably already knows about this being a PT, but I thought I'd throw it out there just in case. Unloaded exercise on a unweighed treadmill or in a specialized pool with a treadmill on the floor often works wonders for true disc patients. I'm a PT as well and have seen this be very effective. The idea is to help you to exercise and have movement in a pain free way - this is one of the best ways I have found to do this. There are some other strengthening exercises I could give you, but your wife already has those covered.

    There is actually very little evidence for traction and many of the modalities that are commonly used, but some people seem to do really well with it so I'd give it a try and keep using it if it works. Just be sure to supplement the modalities with a solid exercise program (specifically stabilization for your core). That is where the long term healing and prevention of future back pain will happen.
    Last edited by climbhigh1119; 07-23-2008 at 07:10 AM.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the help guys, I appreciate it. I did the cortisone injection this morning and the leg feels great and should for another couple of hours. I took a look at the needle and it was about 7" long. Yikes! My father did his L5/S1 disc when he was just about my age and his eventually got better with lifting (Careful) and focus on his core strengthening. I do a lot of flatwater kayak racing in the summer so my core is usually pretty strong, but according to her, it doesn't appear that I normally engage many of those muscles in normal day to day type environments. I'm currently on an exercise plan that includes a lot of ab and back work to strengthen all of those muscles, and I'm FAR more limber than I was when I hurt it two weeks ago. I'll post here in a few days/weeks to let you know how the cortisone works. It's supposed to reduce the swelling and allow the disc to slowly work it's way back into place. Do you guys know if you're more likely to hurt it again after the first time? Having had shoulder dislocation problems in the past where it just gets worse and worse the more you dislocate, I was wondering if this is the same with discs.

    Splat, I can't believe that you can remember the spelling of all those fancy titles for your Doctors. I'm not sure I can pronounce them.

    Huck, I may send you a PM later for some more info on the diet.

    Climb, I'm supposed to get into a therapy pool sometime in the next few days to try it out. After the accident, she found me hanging from stuff to try to get my back to straighten out, so she thought the pool might be a good option. The traction modality, I think, does for me what you've described with the treadmill/pool - allowing my leg to move in a way that doesn't hurt my back. The majority of my time, however, is spent on the core exercises.

    Thanks again guys.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huck_Schmuck View Post
    Then a friend of mine persuaded me to go and see her hippy quack. I will never call hippy quacks, hippy quacks again. This guy was a naturopath, osteopath & acupuncturist. He pretty much got me skiing again, pain free, in 5 weeks.

    He then made me stop eating wheat, meat & dairy for two weeks. After one week I felt better, after two I was pain free, gone.

    ..
    Ditto on diet. Same recommend I got and it made a dif.

    I also have a low back regimen for loosening the sacrum (that's big) that involves rotating the hips in both directions while flexing from a flat back to going to shoulders only, lifting the back off the floor. Great exercise for low back injuries.

    It's great to see other people seeking the more holistic alternatives.
    I believe.

    Huck Schmuck - after my numerous back injuries, I became glucose intolerant and I tend to attribute it to the injuries. Wheat makes my back hurt.

  11. #11
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    Pat, I have the same thing! Avoid wheat like the plague now. Pasta or wheat binge = back pain.
    i wish i never chose that user_name

    Whitedot Freeride

  12. #12
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    Seth - I would also really recommend Pilates. The basic ethos is learning to control all parts of your body individually whilst maintaining a really strong core.
    i wish i never chose that user_name

    Whitedot Freeride

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by splat View Post
    I also have a low back regimen for loosening the sacrum (that's big) that involves rotating the hips in both directions while flexing from a flat back to going to shoulders only, lifting the back off the floor. Great exercise for low back injuries.
    Splat - can you describe this back stretch again. I'm not sure I get the picture of what you are doing. My thought is that you lay on your back and arch it off the floor so that only your shoulders and tailbone are touching the floor. Then while in that position, you rotate your legs - one over the other - so that you are rotating your sacrum. Is that it? How far do you rotate - until your right leg is touching the ground on your left side?
    Always do your best and never let it rest until your best is better and your better is your best

  14. #14
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    Awesome, great advice guys, thanks. Splat, any chance you'd be willing/able to post a pic of the sacrum loosening exercise? I know you've got your own injuries so if it isn't possible, no worries. Thanks!

  15. #15
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    After a variety of treatments/Dr. Visits/drugs and re-injury every winter, I asked for a PT script from the Doc.

    Several trips to PT have shown me how misaligned my entire body is, and rather weak in some core/isolation exercises.

    The simplicity of the workouts and improvements the PT has made, make me wonder why that isn't the FIRST thing doctors should be prescribing (I had to ask for it)

    SO.... do what your wife tells you, and you should probably be set by ski season. Isolation of the tranverse underlying stomach muscles has been the hardest, yet most beneficial thing I've done in quite a while

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebentwoods View Post
    Splat - can you describe this back stretch again. I'm not sure I get the picture of what you are doing. My thought is that you lay on your back and arch it off the floor so that only your shoulders and tailbone are touching the floor. Then while in that position, you rotate your legs - one over the other - so that you are rotating your sacrum. Is that it? How far do you rotate - until your right leg is touching the ground on your left side?
    No pics at this time, sorry. But, yes, you arch and cross your centerline, doing circles with your hips, then drop your sacrum to the floor as you cross your center, rolling your knees over your center from one side to the other to finish what are circles, then lift and do it all again. Then do it in the reverse motion.

    Think doing hula hoops in slow motion while lying on your back and alternating from a flat to tilted pelvis, back flat on the floor, to arching off your shoulders, all at the same time.....but with a semblance of fluidity.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by splat View Post
    No pics at this time, sorry. But, yes, you arch and cross your centerline, doing circles with your hips, then drop your sacrum to the floor as you cross your center, rolling your knees over your center from one side to the other to finish what are circles, then lift and do it all again. Then do it in the reverse motion.

    Think doing hula hoops in slow motion while lying on your back and alternating from a flat to tilted pelvis, back flat on the floor, to arching off your shoulders, all at the same time.....but with a semblance of fluidity.
    Maybe we should take up a collection so Splat could hire a hook...errr I mean model to demonstrate this exercise.

    Quote Originally Posted by gunniride View Post
    After a variety of treatments/Dr. Visits/drugs and re-injury every winter, I asked for a PT script from the Doc.

    The simplicity of the workouts and improvements the PT has made, make me wonder why that isn't the FIRST thing doctors should be prescribing (I had to ask for it)
    General practitioners are drug dealers, and my insurance company will pay for me to go to a chiro 20 times a year for maintainence, but I have to be in an accident or disabled somehow to get in to see a PT. So I do yoga to keep my lower back from killing me.
    All stunts performed without a net!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huck_Schmuck View Post
    Pat, I have the same thing! Avoid wheat like the plague now. Pasta or wheat binge = back pain.
    sounds more like celiac disease than anything, both celiac and lactose intolerance can exist in mild forms that are tolerable but unpleasant
    "What's the point of wearing your favorite rocketship underpants if nobody ever asks to see 'em?"

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by maznarak View Post
    sounds more like celiac disease than anything, both celiac and lactose intolerance can exist in mild forms that are tolerable but unpleasant
    Understood. Will spinal nerve damage in specific areas of the back refer, specifically, to GI issues, causing problems such as, or similar to, celiac?

    paging neurodoc.....

  20. #20
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    Huh. I'm going to have to reread that description again Splat. Maybe my wife will know what you're describing. The drugs wore off yesterday and for the next two days (apparently), I'll be waiting for the cortisone to kick in. So far, same ol' pain. I picked up a ball to sit on and I think that this might help at least for a little bit. Allows me to move the back around more when it's feeling tired or sore.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by splat View Post
    Understood. Will spinal nerve damage in specific areas of the back refer, specifically, to GI issues, causing problems such as, or similar to, celiac?

    paging neurodoc.....
    generally no unless it's the absolute last part of your colon that's bothered. the majority of your GI tract is supplied by the vagus nerve which comes directly from your brain so spinal nerve injuries tend to spare your internal organs for the most part. it could just have been an underlying issue beforehand that was exacerbated by stress.
    "What's the point of wearing your favorite rocketship underpants if nobody ever asks to see 'em?"

  22. #22
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    This thread is gold. I just got back from the doctor and he told me the same thing (herniated disc between L5 and S1). I have an MRI on Monday, but it's good to see that others have experience with this, and more importantly experience with things that work. Being only 19, I really want to work on this now, and get my body as strong as possible while I'm still young.

    Splat and Huck you two will probably have PMs coming from me in the next couple of days.

  23. #23
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    One year. Every day rub St. John's Wort oil on that area of your spine.
    Find the purest source you can for it, typically a good herbs store.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by maznarak View Post
    generally no unless it's the absolute last part of your colon that's bothered. the majority of your GI tract is supplied by the vagus nerve which comes directly from your brain so spinal nerve injuries tend to spare your internal organs for the most part. it could just have been an underlying issue beforehand that was exacerbated by stress.
    That's where my problem manifested and wheat exacerbates it exponentially.
    Thanks for confirming my suspicions.

  25. #25
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    Splat,

    you should try avoiding everything with gluten in it for a week or so and see if it gets better. It's generally wheat products, but some pastas etc have it as well. If you check ingredient labels they'll say in bold letters if it contains either wheat or gluten. If it helps significantly you probably have your diagnosis and you should continue avoiding it.

    Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks part of the gluten molecule while it's in your intestines and causes inflammation leading generally to gas and diarrhea (fun fun) as well as just general discomfort. The only real cure for it is to stop eating wheat products. Common thought is that it's generally underdiagnosed so a lot of people have some form of it but don't realize it, which it sounds like is what happened to you; either that or it just started up now which is also possible. Anyway, I hope you feel better man, you might want to bring this up the next time you see your primary care doc as well, don't just take my word for it because I can't see you or do a physical exam.
    "What's the point of wearing your favorite rocketship underpants if nobody ever asks to see 'em?"

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