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  1. #1
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    Surfing after Herniated Disk?

    Anyone been down this route before. Really wanting to paddle out for some waves soon.

    L5 - S1 with S1 radioscopy happened around 4th of July lifting a bunch of furniture at work. Stupid..

  2. #2
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    Unless you've committed to serious PT and have already tested the results, I'd give it another 3-6 months and eas back into it slowly. Note: this will follow you for the rest of your life - respect it.

    "radioscopy"???? I'm guessing you meant something different, as that's just imaging (usually X-rays).

  3. #3
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    Been there, done that. Lacking details - is it bulged or ruptured? Assuming it's only bulged, ice and Advil (nothing stronger), mixed with PT or Chiro, or whatever works for you. Once the pain goes down enough that you can stand up straight, go running. You need to strengthen those little stabilizer muscles around the disc. Assuming all that goes well, do some dry land training to be sure you can jump to your feet. If you can't get to your feet on land, you can't do it on water.

    Don't mean to scare you, but after years of mitigating my back pain, including a full year of numbing sciatic pain, I did the decompression surgery. Best decision ever...for me. If you end up there, and I would say you are nowhere close to that road yet, find a good doc who fully comprehends what you consider to be success. If they start talking about fusing vertiibrae, get out of there quick! My doc said the words, "this is textbook and I'll have you surfing/snowboarding in a manner of weeks." BINGO! He totally delivered too. If you are in SoCal I'd be happy to recommend...but do all those other things first.

  4. #4
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    running? ouch. swim, any kind of muscle building that doesn't involve pounding to shit. pay attention to the other things in life - shoes, posture, beds, chairs, all of the things that can make life a pain - literally.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by PB View Post

    "radioscopy"????
    Likely referring to radiculopathy (nerve root compression symptoms)

  6. #6
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    Surfing after Herniated Disk?

    Quote Originally Posted by bourbonisgood View Post
    Likely referring to radiculopathy (nerve root compression symptoms)
    Bingo. Nobody ever believes you when you say "Radiculopathy" it's an absurd word. Might as well call it "absurdopathy" but I assure you, it's "a thing".

    It's Brutal. mine was so bad that while I was trying to sleep at night I had to alternately go from putting my seized up right foot in a hot tub, then two hour later ice cold shower because of the stabbing fire.

    I'd give it time and take a measured, cautious approach in your recovery; It's not worth aggravating the injury. Make sure you're fully healed; acupuncture, chiro, and deep-tissue massage were all helpful. Do core stability exercises and focus on the muscles of the foot or leg that has any nerological deficiencies.
    Maybe, do some surf specific moves to see how you feel? Bunch of paddle/Jump ups and try to mimic surfing (Years later I can still get tingling in my leg if I overdo it while paddling and over arching my back but I just manage it.

    Hope you make a full recovery and have many surf years ahead.
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  7. #7
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    I had l5/s1 and l4/l5 laminectomys done about 7 years apart. I dont know what the raidoscopy thing is but i can tell you i was skiing after 6 weeks, and had a hard charging heli trip in AK 8 weeks out. I think the protocals call for 8 weeks of rest now.

    I was manic about rehab and if you want send me a PM with your email. i will send out the multifidus/transverse muscle pt regime i used and still use. I would think there is no reason not to surf, the arching of your back while paddling should be great for your back, assuming you have been hitting pt.

  8. #8
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    Thanks team! I truly appreciate all the tips in here.

    Heading to the coast in a few weeks, worst case I borrow a sup and go paddle around a bit. PT was cool with that. As mentioned above laying in the paddle position might actually feel great. I managed to max out my 40 PT visits for the year mostly due to my clavicle surgery in March. So I am slacking on the stretching as of late.. DOH

    Rolfing is doing wonders and I starting see a local Chiropractor that reviewed the x-rays with me and said don't do surgery.. But I feel uber lazy and FAT going into winter.

    Dunfee, interesting take on the bed, posture and what not. My bed is easily 10 years old, I sit and spam way to much from this desk and am known to hunch according to the girls at the gryotronics place.. So yeah I guess all sorts of stuff to pay attention to.

    Not going to lie, every time I go to lift something now I am like hmm is this ok, is my posture right, etc etc...

    The feeling My Pet Goat described is something I truly would not wish on my worst enemy or x-girlfriend. And not something I ever want to come close to experiencing again.

  9. #9
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    Much as I hate to admit it, your Chiro's got it right - surgery is the absolute last resort; really only an option for loss of motor function. Pain is just ...... pain. Every person I know that tried to surgically deal with it, including myself, experienced no long term improvement over simple conservative therapy - ice/heat, NSAIDS, PT, behavioral modification, etc.
    If the pain is unbearable (coughpussycough) an epidural usually knocks it back from acute to manageable.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by PB View Post
    Much as I hate to admit it, your Chiro's got it right - surgery is the absolute last resort; really only an option for loss of motor function. Pain is just ...... pain. Every person I know that tried to surgically deal with it, including myself, experienced no long term improvement over simple conservative therapy - ice/heat, NSAIDS, PT, behavioral modification, etc.
    If the pain is unbearable (coughpussycough) an epidural usually knocks it back from acute to manageable.
    Thanks for the straight forward reply. Do you think the epirdural will help release nerve tension. That's what I am battling the most these days? I can stretch (actually did this morning) but can't seem to get it to "release" guessing this may just be a time thing. As flexibility is coming around, which is great for the mental state.

  11. #11
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    Not sure what you mean by nerve tension; epidurals in this context administer steroids and sometimes nerve blocking agents. Big issue (not the only one - see damage from repeated administration) with them is that they make you feel too good, thinking that the underlying acute issue is gone - it's not. It's deceptively easy to dangerously overdo it immediately afterwards, thereby making it worse. Still need to carefully, slowly ease back into your activities, including all the above non-surgical recommendations.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by PB View Post
    Not sure what you mean by nerve tension; epidurals in this context administer steroids and sometimes nerve blocking agents. Big issue (not the only one - see damage from repeated administration) with them is that they make you feel too good, thinking that the underlying acute issue is gone - it's not. It's deceptively easy to dangerously overdo it immediately afterwards, thereby making it worse. Still need to carefully, slowly ease back into your activities, including all the above non-surgical recommendations.
    my landlord did look at me strange when I hoped on my beach cruiser 24 hours after the epidural shot.. I was flying then a couple days later I remembered my back was tweaked. Thanks for the repeat administration tip, I am sober on pills but sure did enjoy that shot..

    Update:
    Went for my first run today. Was tempted to hit some trails with vertical but my mind knew better so I went for a nice flat trail run. About 3 miles total out and back. It was weird at best. Felt like my left leg (the herniated disk side) was not striking as well or as strong as the other leg. When I finished my right thigh was on fire ( I have a feeling I was not running asymmetrically. ) And sort of almost fell over when I tried to balance on the left foot as I was coming to a stop.

    Going to take tomorrow off and ride the beach cruiser around and then go for another flat run on Fri.

    Honestly I started considering the surgery today after not having the power I was accustomed too? Clearly I will let this play out a little longer before any major decisions.

    Hoping to be in the water by this time next week!!

  13. #13
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    I would refrain from running, that's hard on your disk. A good uphill hike seem to work better for me. Beach cruiser is probably good, but only you know what works, just have to listen to your back.

    Your leg on fire, not striking well and feeling weak is the neurological deficit I mentioned in my last post. Focus on rehabbing those areas through agility, balance, and moderate strength training. You compressed those nerves and sometimes it just takes time and patience before they come "back on line"

    Maybe we can get a PT to chime in?
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by My Pet Powder Goat View Post

    Your leg on fire, not striking well and feeling weak is the neurological deficit I mentioned in my last post. Focus on rehabbing those areas through agility, balance, and moderate strength training. You compressed those nerves and sometimes it just takes time and patience before they come "back on line"

    Maybe we can get a PT to chime in?
    Correct. Depending on the duration and extent of the nerve root compression, it can take weeks, months (or even longer in severe cases) to recover normal function - assuming you aren't out doing tons of high impact activity... Take it easy on the running, especially if you suspect a gait abnormality like you were describing.

  15. #15
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    Triple the reco on running - I've been unable to run more than a couple of hundred feet without my back flairing up, for the last 20 years; you'll need to come up with a low/non-impact substitute for at least the near term.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by PB View Post
    Much as I hate to admit it, your Chiro's got it right - surgery is the absolute last resort; really only an option for loss of motor function. Pain is just ...... pain. Every person I know that tried to surgically deal with it, including myself, experienced no long term improvement over simple conservative therapy - ice/heat, NSAIDS, PT, behavioral modification, etc.
    If the pain is unbearable (coughpussycough) an epidural usually knocks it back from acute to manageable.
    Ok, well, sort of agree. As I said before, try everything else first, but surgery ultimately did the trick for me.

    I had years of sciatic pain. My leg would go numb and it would take me a minute to stand after sitting in a desk chair for a while. I had done ice, Advil, PT and chiro with limited success. Just when I thought I was getting a handle on it, I threw out my back sorting laundry and couldn't move for an hour. That was the final straw.

    My surgery was a simple L4-L5 decompression with the disc bulged toward the back. The doc basically moved the muscles apart and removed a pencil-thick portion of the disc to make room for the nerve. The most painful part, and what took the most recovery time is the muscle recovery. I have had no issues since and I am a very active 48 year-old. Snowboarding, surfing, soccer, running; I got it all back in about 6 weeks. So if you have never known anyone with long-term success with surgery, you have not met me.

    The key as I said is to find a well-recommended doc who knows what your goals are. Everyone from the surgeon to the chiro to the PT therapist will tell you their solution is the right one. They are all right to a point, but if it's not working try something else. Don't get stuck thinking any of the other things won't work just because one of those other guys said it wouldn't.

    Now that I am on the other side, I am religious about staying in shape. I run 3 miles every morning, play soccer every weekend, and surf and snowboard every chance I get. Once again agree with the consensus though; if you are not standing up streight, lay off everything but walking and swimming until you can...THEN get into a regimen to strengthen your back. Running works for me, something else may be the trick for you, but you have to do it and be really committed.

    It all takes time and there are no shortcuts. Don't let anyone give you anything stronger than Advil or Tylenol, ever. The pain is way easier to deal with than the addiction.

    My $0.02.

  17. #17
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    I would not run period. The epidural reduced the swelling that inhibits the nerve, but also masks the pain. You running can be devastating to the disk and nerves

    It s not worth it. Swimming and anything else low impact is fine

    As for neurological problems, try "nerve sliders." They will break up an scare tissue that has fored on the nerves and get them back to functioning.

    Also just my $.02.

  18. #18
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    Again, don't continue to run if you feel pain and especially with the leg symptoms you described. I can tell you from experience.

    I had a severe L5-S1 bulging disc three years ago and received a lot of help and encouragement here on TGR. I'm now much stronger than I was before the injury, but it took being out of work for about three months, light duty for two more, extensive PT, three rounds of cortisone shots, taking a summer off of firefighting the first year after my injury, lots of strength work, changing my activities when I felt pain and the hardest and most important thing was becoming much more humble- not lifting heavy things and/or asking for help.
    I had my first episode in the late summer of 2013 was out of work a month and started PT. I got slightly better by the start of winter. By about Christmas time, I was skiing but experiencing pain and dead leg symptoms and I kept pushing it. I would tell myself that I just needed to stretch and things would be OK. They weren't and I spent the next two months on my couch, missing the snowiest February in Big Sky history.

    Healing from this is a long process, and very hard if you are an active person. Several times when I felt slightly better, I tried to run or bike and wound up back several weeks in my recovery.

    I think the biggest thing for me to maintain my back health is weight lifting. In the summer following my injury, at the suggestion of my PT, I started going to a trainer at the gym. I worked with him to develop a routine that includes several lifts. To my great surprise, the deadlift is one of my favorites. Lifting has dramatically improved my body mechanics and all around strength so I am much more efficient in my movements and put less stress on my lower back. But be patient, i did not start this till about nine months after my injury.

    Anyway, surfing for you sounds much like skiing was for me. Don't do it yet, especially with you leg symptoms. A bit of swimming or paddling boarding may satisfy your need for movement with less risk. Take it slow my friend.
    Originally Posted by nickwm21
    "hitting rocks ain't normal use in their eyes..."

  19. #19
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    I would not do the epidural or Cortisone shots. Sure the pain goes away, but it hasn't improved the mechanics. The pain you do not feel is the very thing you need to tell you not to do the things that are making your back worse.

    Really surprised GoBig1776 found weightlifting was the answer, but there you go. It worked for him and more power to him. I would definitely splurge in a trainer though - that could go horribly wrong if done wrong.

  20. #20
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    update on back and surf:

    got out west on Wen the 19th paddled out at Golden West in HB and had one of the most humbling surf experiences of my life…. I could not for the life of me get to my feet and pump down the line. However the next day I went down to Newport river jetties and really started to feel my surfing coming back. Thank god!!!

    I have not felt any pain in my back, I did feel both sciatic nerves fire up the first night after surfing, to be expected I haven't done much but ride a beach cruiser around for 6 months.

    I'm testing one of the Lib Tech Waterboards (Ringer) so its a little slow getting into waves with its bouncy (review to follow) but once I got to my feet the board really was playful and super easy to ride.

    Yesterday I had one of the best backside barrels of my life #2 or #3 (again at Newport) it was only like 3-4 feet but I was locked in offshore clean conditions, clear water and stoked to be pain free and charging.

    Today the swell looks to be peaking, surfing my home river jetty point break I grew up on and was classic conditions, and I was able to surf in my trunks (thanks to the old nuclear plant up the river..)

    I would say this, if you are recovering from an injury like this. It seems that surfing, getting pounded, paddling, surfing, getting pounded, paddling, repeat might be a fast way to get the muscles firing again. I would recommend surfing for recovery for everyone!!

  21. #21
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    Good luck with it, glad surfing recovery is going well. I found yoga and stretching to be helpful long-term, but so is any sport where you're using your back muscles on a regular basis to build them up around the disc. It's a lifetime injury though.

  22. #22
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    Add me to the list. Just got the MRI back yesterday and ortho recommended surgery to "trim" the offending disc. I can still run, bike and ski with limited pain. Playing soccer is pushing it though. I stopped chiro a month ago because I thought it was a bit kooky, but when I stayed with it, my back felt better.

    I just have a REALLY hard time letting my body rest. I get too antsy.

    This shit sucks.
    They think I do not know a buttload of crap about the Gospel, but I do.

  23. #23
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    That sucks.

    10 years out from my L5/S1 and still can't run more than a mile without a couple days of being laid out. Same goes for soccer or basketball. I can ride bikes, but had to give up my road bike because the aggressive position is too hard for me if I'm not 100% on with my form. Swimming, yoga and stretching are the absolute best things that I've found, and I basically stock up on those enough to do the things I shouldn't be doing like skiing or golf. I also find the more active I am the better in general.

    Core strength, core strength, core strength.

    I stay off of pain killers, and try to use a little MJ edibles to help me sleep if it flairs up. I end up on a cocktail of muscle relaxers and pain pills every couple of years, though.

    I've found massage to be 100% more effective than chiro, but lots of people love going to theirs, so YMMV, obviously.

    I'm basically waiting and waiting and waiting to see if they have some miracle surgery that will heal me up, but I'm nowhere near a place where I'd risk it today.

  24. #24
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    Had an amazing recovery over the last 12 months. Been pushing into bigger trail runs than ever before. So blessed. And for anyone with a herintaed disk, it can get better (with time) and patience, and lots and lots of stretching. Meditation (well it worked for me) eating right, staying off the booze and just being so freaking Grateful for every single day on my feet.

    I got some great exercises and tips from people on this thread. It will surely help other in the future too.

    I even managed to take My Level 3 this past winter and dug a ton of pits in the snow. At first my doctor and pt were not so sure. I figure if it ever hurt I would stop..

    For everyone else, how's you healing coming?

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