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Ronald Kim
06-04-2012, 10:08 AM
I am a military reservist on active duty, and back in September 2010, WOD was 2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2 Deadlift. I made it up to 365, and it didn't seem like I had any issues. Didn't hear a pop, didn't feel any pain at all. The next day, my back was really sore. Then, in October, I was doing a shoulder press, and BAM, my lower back and the back of my legs were in pain. Doc's first thought it was SI Joint issue, but after an MRI, it showed I had a bulging disc that favored the right side at the L5-S1, even though I feel the most pain on the left of my spine.

I have read a lot of the related injuries to mine on this message board and found some of it helpful. I have only seen a physical therapist, and pain management, no chiropractors yet.

Unfortunately, tricare will only allow me to see the physical therapist on base, and for the past 6 months, I have been doing "self help" physical therapy, that got me no where. I got my first injection in January (no fluoroscopy), and just recently got my second injection last (with fluoroscopy). Initially, I was working out, avoiding any low back movements (deadlift, good mornings, etc). Since nothing got better, I just stopped working out, only doing physical therapy, which the physical therapy on base likes to do a walk to run program, with a few stretches and core exercises. Before I received my second injection, we were working on some big tents, when I must have done something to relapse and my back was in extreme pain.

I have seen another physical therapist and tried other things such as electrical stimulation, traction, soft tissue massage, core exercises, and stretches. Traction did not feel very good and a month later of doing all that, still no progress. I did find a MDT certified PT an hour away from me, and went to my first session last week. He let me borrow his book, and also gave me the McKenzie lumbar support for my back. I know McKenzie has done wonders for some, but does anyone know a time frame for recovery? My job requires lifting, moving, being in the field, walking around a lot, lots of standing, etc.

The two biggest things I'm afraid of are medical discharge, and surgery. Has anyone on here experienced or know of someone who's undergone surgery and is still in the military? I'm only 27 years old, and I don't know what's to come...

Deniz Firat
06-05-2012, 04:29 PM
I am a military reservist on active duty, and back in September 2010, WOD was 2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2 Deadlift. I made it up to 365, and it didn't seem like I had any issues. Didn't hear a pop, didn't feel any pain at all. The next day, my back was really sore. Then, in October, I was doing a shoulder press, and BAM, my lower back and the back of my legs were in pain. Doc's first thought it was SI Joint issue, but after an MRI, it showed I had a bulging disc that favored the right side at the L5-S1, even though I feel the most pain on the left of my spine.

I have read a lot of the related injuries to mine on this message board and found some of it helpful. I have only seen a physical therapist, and pain management, no chiropractors yet.

Unfortunately, tricare will only allow me to see the physical therapist on base, and for the past 6 months, I have been doing "self help" physical therapy, that got me no where. I got my first injection in January (no fluoroscopy), and just recently got my second injection last (with fluoroscopy). Initially, I was working out, avoiding any low back movements (deadlift, good mornings, etc). Since nothing got better, I just stopped working out, only doing physical therapy, which the physical therapy on base likes to do a walk to run program, with a few stretches and core exercises. Before I received my second injection, we were working on some big tents, when I must have done something to relapse and my back was in extreme pain.

I have seen another physical therapist and tried other things such as electrical stimulation, traction, soft tissue massage, core exercises, and stretches. Traction did not feel very good and a month later of doing all that, still no progress. I did find a MDT certified PT an hour away from me, and went to my first session last week. He let me borrow his book, and also gave me the McKenzie lumbar support for my back. I know McKenzie has done wonders for some, but does anyone know a time frame for recovery? My job requires lifting, moving, being in the field, walking around a lot, lots of standing, etc.

The two biggest things I'm afraid of are medical discharge, and surgery. Has anyone on here experienced or know of someone who's undergone surgery and is still in the military? I'm only 27 years old, and I don't know what's to come...

Are you sure that your problem is due to a disk bulge? I do have a disk bulge and so do a lot of athletes or regular people who don't exercise. If we ran MRI on everyone you know, almost 80% would have a disk bulge. And, what I am sharing is not based on my personal experience, it is being said by doctors and PTs. So, in summary, I am trying to figure out of you actually have an additional problem?

Michael V. Erickson
06-05-2012, 09:13 PM
I'm only 27 years old, and I don't know what's to come...

Ronald, thank you for your service.

I'm twice your age plus 10 years, I think you have a whole lot to come yet. You will get past this, in a few years it will be a distant memory. The human body is amazing in its ability to repair itself. You need to get out of your own way and let it start. Stop doing what hurts, stop trying to pretend it isn't there or didn't happen. Three years ago I re-injured my back doing deadlifts. After 3-4 months of physical therapy and prednisone my sports medicine doc ordered an MRI. I have a 6mm bulge on the left side of the L3-4 disk. I went to work with a thermocare heat pack on my lower back. Some days I just stuffed an ice pack back there. I had a constant pain in my left butt, burning on the left side thigh area, ache on the outside of my lower left leg. A pretty miserable few months. Finally went and got an epidural injection. It worked. Really well. I started doing all the exercises I'd been reading about, the Mackenzies, the McGill big three, the neural flossing. I found Bill Starr's "Rehabilitating the lower back" and read it a dozen times with growing optimism. I still have the bulge. But, most of the time, no symptoms. When I neglect the exercises for a while I start feeling the pain in my butt. I do the MacKenzie press-ups, a set of 25 good mornings (light weight, 45 lb bar), some planks, and I'm good to go for a while again. If I keep up the circulation and work on keeping the core and back strong I am pain free. Here are a couple links [wfs]: http://www.sportsrehabexpert.com/public/195.cfm

http://ooopsthereitis.blogspot.com/2008/06/rehabilitating-lower-back-bill-starr.html?zx=5e89d26ceab2284c

The MacKenzie back book is cheap on Amazon. I also take a lot of vit c and fish oil capsules. I don't work out with nearly the weight you do, but I'm kinda and old and not very big. I can clean and jerk 135 a few times with no pain. I hope this helps, good luck. I'm surprised you didn't get more replies but it's probably because there are several low back related threads going on at the same time.

Megan Zetter
06-05-2012, 09:25 PM
Check this out: http://www.FixYourOwnBack.com/

There is a wealth excellent, research based, home care on this site. The doctor who has put this together has spent years working with some of the finest chiropractors, PT and sports trainers in the U.S.

Amanda S Throm
06-13-2012, 01:54 PM
Has anyone on here experienced or know of someone who's undergone surgery and is still in the military? I'm only 27 years old, and I don't know what's to come...

I'm 24 and I was just told I have two "Early degenerating discs" in L4 and L5. I saw my chiro twice this week and it only made the pain worse. Friday I'll be going in for a cortisone shot which should help a considerable amount.

I definitely don't think surgery is required right now for you-- there are definitely many other options other than just PT. Chiropractic helps a lot with swelling etc.

For the record, major surgeries don't usually happen when you're still active. My cousins' husband's feet were severely damaged while in Iraq and he was then diagnosed with RA brought out from the meds he was given and he went through two years of MedBoard before being discharged and surgery still hasn't happened, though I'm sure he could still get it done now.

Matt A. Windsor
06-14-2012, 11:42 AM
To the OP - I was in the Army Reserves for 8 years, and had my L5/S1 microdiscectomy in 2005 while IN the Reserves.

I squatted 305 yesterday, can deadlift 385, and a whole bunch of other stuff, so I'd say it was successful. :D

Ronald Kim
06-18-2012, 09:14 AM
To all,

Thanks for everyone's replies. I have been busy in the field and haven't had an opportunity to get back on here to reply to everyone.

I've had an MRI and confirmed it's a bulging disc; however, I am unsure if that's what is causing the pain. I've been through several physical therapists, doing stretches, exercises, e-stim, ice, etc. So far, McKenzie is working sort of. Still getting a little leg pain, back pain is reduced, but I've only been going for a few weeks so it's still early. I'm very hopeful.

Matt, did you have your surgery covered through Tricare or through your civilian insurance? Did you have to get out of the reserves after and if you wanted to, could you have stayed in? Thanks all for the responses.

Matt A. Windsor
06-18-2012, 11:31 AM
Matt, did you have your surgery covered through Tricare or through your civilian insurance? Did you have to get out of the reserves after and if you wanted to, could you have stayed in? Thanks all for the responses.

Bluntly put, HECK NO I didn't have Tricare do it. I don't think they would have covered it anyways; but to be honest, even if they would've, if there's ANY question as to the quality of care (and you and I both know that VA/military healthcare can be lacking sometimes), I will always go straight civilian.

I went with a guy out of Springfield, MO. :)

As far as getting out, I did not have to get out; I had the surgery in May 2005, and I got out in December 2011. It was one of those "Does not affect the ability of the soldier to perform his job" things. :)

I'm almost dead certain that's what's causing the pain. In my case it was a bit different - my lower back would REALLY hurt after runs, squats, DL's, anything that worked the back; and sitting down was NOT fun. The only position that would relieve the pain was reclining back, with knees slightly bent; and certain positions (e.g., sitting straight up, with left/right leg straight out in front of you) would absolutely kill.

Had the surgery in May of 2005, and was back to EASY workouts and elliptical training in June. Back to full workouts in August of that year, and as I said, I can squat 305# now, DL 365, and so on and so forth. My back will tire before other things will, but that's about the only side effect. WELL worth it. :)

Ronald Kim
06-19-2012, 04:06 AM
I'm with you on that one. Military health care can be great, but for certain surgeries...skeptical. The joke around here is, what do you call someone who graduated last in their medical school class? A Lieutenant Commander in the Navy...hah.

I kind of want to do surgery, but not in that much of a hurry. If my situation doesn't get better, then I might be more inclined to do so. I'll continue to push McKenzie, but as of right now, little improvement. Not as much leg tingling, and back pain is sometimes there but not always. After reading other threads or websites, I guess I'm not really that bad off because I can still walk no problem, I can still get out of bed, and I can sit (not for prolonged periods) without any problems.

Daniel Pope
06-20-2012, 05:23 AM
Hey Ronald, hope things are coming around.

I second the comment made earlier, a diagnostic MRI disc bulge does not necessarily mean that the symptoms are coming from the bulge. A bulging disc may not end up pressing on a spinal nerve root or anything else in the spinal canal and could not produce any symptoms.

Also, the mechanism of injury, overhead press, is an exercises that usually ends up hyperextending the lower back, definitely not the mechanism of injury for a disc problem.

That being said it may very well be a disc problem. Was the disc herniated? Something like Mckenzie could help but if you have a bad herniation all the repeated extension could make it worse. Fortunately in big herniations over time the herniated nucleus propulsus of the disc ends up being reabsorbed and eventually over a few months most symptoms resolve.

If I had to say one thing it would be to find a PT/chiro that you trust and be patient. Low back pain is not something that is a quick fix and it is going to vary quite a bit between person to person and injury. Good luck bud and keep us informed as to your progress.

Dan Pope

Matt A. Windsor
06-20-2012, 06:14 AM
Dan does make a good point. My back injury was pretty run-of-the-mill - but then again I can tell you EXACTLY what event/injury caused the problem....and I can also tell you that I didn't realize I had a problem until 5 years afterwards, when it was pretty obvious that the problem wasn't resolving itself. It is definitely worth speaking to a PT/Chiro first; I'd though you'd done that already. :)

Bryan Arciero
06-26-2012, 11:13 AM
FWIW I felt the "sharp" feeling down one leg doing deadlifts (I honestly thought someone had thrown something at my hamstring) but after 30 seconds it stopped (I also stopped doing deadlifts). I thought it was an isolated incident (some nerve twinge or something), so I kept training, and even managed to PR my clean by another 10#.

Sure enough I still felt numbness in certain parts of my foot, as well as a weakness in my left leg, so I eventually went to my GP within 2 weeks. One MRI and 3 weeks later, I was in the OR removing part of a herniated disc as well as a cyst, which was now occupying 30% of the nerve cross-sectional area (i.e. corticosteroids would have done sweet FA, so they were a non-starter).

One week after surgery and I'm feeling a lot better (no pain when I get up) though there is some tightness still in my left calf/hammy. I start Physical Therapy next week for a few weeks.

Prior to injury I was squatting 305, DL 405, and cleaning 215. Recognizing that "these are just numbers" I'm hoping that I'll be able to hit close to them by Christmas or sooner, but have no thoughts of a grandiose, rapid recovery anytime soon.

In summary: Keep at it until you're fed up and it's not getting better. Then look to more "severe" options. In my case it was a no brainer; it was like my disc has knocked down the door to my nerve and was "leaking" into it pretty heavily.

PS: If you do have surgery (mine was S1/L5), the location means it's easy to tell folks you had a tramp-stamp removed from a bad-decision when you were a teenager. Mine was meant to be the chinese character for "courage" but came out as "egg foo yung" instead (hey, you gotta keep the spirits high when you're out from back surgery!).

Chad Newbolt
06-27-2012, 01:32 PM
Had surgery for ruptured disk at L5/S1 back in 2008. Like most, I exhausted all options before surgery with no luck. Went three for three on surgeons saying that if I wanted to continue to have use of my left leg then I had to do it. I was real concerned about paralysis from surgery but was told that there is little risk with this surgery. Immediately after surgery I felt much better and wondered why I waited so long (surgeon said my blod pressure dropped even under anethesia as soon as disc material was removed from nerve).

I began doing crossfit in 2010 and can honestly say that I am in much better overall condition today than before this injury. I was told by doctors and PT's that I would never be able to deadlift/squat and should avoid doing things like touch toes as this could cause problems. Happy to say that I did not follow this specific advice but VERY SLOWLY began to strengthen back and move towards deadlifts, etc. I still choose to stay on the light side (<200 lbs) with deadlifts (out of fear not pain) but front squat heavy with no problems. I've had to modify and keep pride in check while working out but all and all I think the experience moved my overall fitness in a positive direction. Guess what I learned from the experience is 1) go to the best surgeon you can find, 2) don't wait too long to have the surgery as this can reduce your chance for full recovery and make things more difficult, and 3) you'll always be damaged goods as far as your back goes but you will likely be able to do most if not all of what you could previously as long as you are smart and patient.

Ronald Kim
06-27-2012, 06:31 PM
Well, I've been doing McKenzie for almost a month now and the tingling in my legs has greatly reduced. I still have a touch and go in my right leg, nothing major, just something I can notice, but the PT says to make sure all pain is out of my legs before we move on. I still want surgery to be a last resort option. It sucks, and I've talked to be people saying it takes a long time for recovery. I'm patient now, but it just sucks not being able to get out there and be active! I'll give another update. The doctor said I wasn't a good candidate for surgery so that's good news I guess!

Matt A. Windsor
06-28-2012, 06:51 AM
Long time for recovery? I was allowed to elliptical train at 4 weeks to tolerance; and could lift again (LIGHTLY at 3 months), unlimited at 6. Could run at 3 months. Not a 'short' amount of time but not exorbitantly long either.

Sam Sang Won Lee
06-30-2012, 08:46 PM
Hey there!
Just to share my own personal experience, I had an MRI and discovered degenerating disks in the L3,L4, and L5. In the beginning, my lower back was stiff and had pain but then the pain traveled down to my right calf. Got so bad that I couldn't walk ten yards without needing to sit down. I have been struggling with it for a few years. The first year, I took medicine and received treatment and didn't exercise at all because I thought it would be best to not compress or put weight on my spine. So I was laying down when I had the chance. Things got better but after a half year or so, the calf pain came back. Medicine was expensive so I took a different route. I talked to people and everyone recommended swimming. So I started swimming without medication or treatment. Slowly the pain subsided and duration of walking extended before needing to sit down. around that time, I started crossfit and it helped me strengthen my back and legs. Now, pain is nearly gone. 90% of it. The thing with bulging disk is that you have to take good care of it because it could come back at any time. I'm not sure if you can access a pool but swimming helps take pressure off the spine and maybe it could help. Appreciate your service!

Ronald Kim
07-03-2012, 04:26 PM
Well, this was the first time I actually sat down with the doc and went over my MRI. The bulge is pretty big, not fully herniated, but big. It is pushing on the right side, which may be why the back of my right leg is tingling. I have slight tingling in the left but not as bad. They want to do a 3rd epidural steroid injection but instead of injecting in the epidural space, they want to do it in the right side.

McKenzie isn't really working, I've been doing for about a month and still no relief. I just want to be in the gym in the next few months and avoid surgery. Hopefully this injection will relieve this leg tingling. I just heard that so many injections are bad, but I heard 3 is the magic number. Anyway, I'm not sure what other options I have. I still have low back pain in the left side of my back. Don't have access to a pool for swimming that is deep enough. I have access to a gym though lol. Will give update later.

Ronald Kim
07-11-2012, 10:37 AM
Update: Got a TF Steroid Injection on Monday, so far, minimal relief, but I know it takes a little while before you can feel relief. The physical therapist mentioned microdiscectomy. Although I mostly feel leg pain, especially all the way down to my calf (my calf feels really tight), I do sometimes have back pain sometimes on both the left and right side of my spine. For those of you who have had microdiscectomy's, did you experience both leg and back pain? I read that this type of surgery does not resolve back pain and is geared more towards leg pain. I've also read that you shouldn't wait too long to get the surgery (3-6 months after the incident); however, I want to exhaust all other resources before opting for surgery.

Matt, could you tell me what type of injury you experienced? Mine was from deadlifts. I reviewed my MRI with the doc and the bulge is pretty significant in the L5/S1, with a slight bulge in L4/L5 (nothing that needs attention as of right now). I also read in the other thread that others still continue to experience leg pain even after the surgery. I'm just afraid of surgery; although most I've heard from that have done it have positive experiences.

Does anyone know of any who have done other surgeries? Thanks.

Kelly Moore
07-11-2012, 04:19 PM
Hi Ronald,

I had a L5/S1 discectomy Feb 14, 2011 and it was the best thing I could have done. My disc was ruptured, so badly that the surgeon removed two pencil eraser sized pieces of disc from my sciatic nerve (no wonder the pain was never ending and beyond hell). Fortunately my discs are very thick and he could still put a stitch in to help hold it together and said my disc is now the thickness of a normal 50 yoa.

It took 6 months of rehabbing from being able to do nothing more than walking to being able to return to my normal activities (including Judo competitions and all out BJJ sparring against men outweighing me by 50 + lbs). I can deadlift 300# again without trouble and double bwt squatting is fine. My low back does seem to fatigue and stiffen up more easily since the surgery (requiring more rest, pre and rehab stuff than before), but that could simply be due to greater low back stress as I do more martial arts classes and competitions.

The only thing that seems to be a daily pain in the neck issue is sitting for more than 20 minutes. That brings back some of the nerve pain in my butt and leg and my low back gets painful. If I keep moving or work at the computer standing I'm good. Long trips where I have to sit are NOT fun anymore, so traveling means plenty of laying down and trying to relax my leg and back when I arrive at my destination.

I keep a training log here and I'm happy to talk if you want. Send me a PM if you have questions or concerns.

Kelly

Matt A. Windsor
07-12-2012, 06:21 AM
Although I mostly feel leg pain, especially all the way down to my calf (my calf feels really tight), I do sometimes have back pain sometimes on both the left and right side of my spine. For those of you who have had microdiscectomy's, did you experience both leg and back pain? I read that this type of surgery does not resolve back pain and is geared more towards leg pain. I've also read that you shouldn't wait too long to get the surgery (3-6 months after the incident); however, I want to exhaust all other resources before opting for surgery.

Sort of. Most of my pain was in my left leg and buttcheek (hey, you asked LOL). However, anytime I'd run, it was like someone was inflating a balloon in the area of my lower back...pretty darn painful.

Matt, could you tell me what type of injury you experienced? Mine was from deadlifts.

Honestly, mine was from falling down a ladderwell on the USS Enterprise in 2001 or so and landing flat on my @$$ on the bottom rung. Good LORD did that hurt, but I didn't think I had any problems until a few years later when it really hurt to run, do situps, etc.

I reviewed my MRI with the doc and the bulge is pretty significant in the L5/S1, with a slight bulge in L4/L5 (nothing that needs attention as of right now). I also read in the other thread that others still continue to experience leg pain even after the surgery. I'm just afraid of surgery; although most I've heard from that have done it have positive experiences.

I was afraid too - until I had my surgery. Prior to surgery I had steroidal shots, stretching, physical therapy, etc., but to be blunt, I had to make some decisions quick, because when you're in the military, you either get the problem fixed or you get out. LOL Mine was smaller than yours but more central, I think.

As far as how the surgery went, it went fine. :) For such a 'crucial' surgery (by that I mean location of course), it's probably been the best surgery I've had. The only real drawback I see is that if I don't have a DECENT pair of shoes, my left leg will cramp up quicker on days when I'm doing a LOT of leg/lower back stuff (e.g., box jumps followed by wallballs followed by squats followed by air squats LOL). But even then, 10 minutes after the workout I'm good. :) It really hasn't impeded me at all.

Does anyone know of any who have done other surgeries? Thanks.[/QUOTE]

Terry A Carey
07-12-2012, 12:27 PM
I had a large herniated disc at L5-S1 in 1999...had the surgery and had intant relief from the most pain I have ever been in.The doctor told me never to lift more than 25 lbs after that:rofl:Since then I have competed in several bodybuilding shows,have run a full marathon and been Cf'ing on and off for 3 years.I teach skiing in the winter and ski all types of terrain including bumps...So there you have it! I am a 56 year old female and I can still squat and deadlift!

Hope you have a good recovery!

Terry

Ronald Kim
07-12-2012, 06:49 PM
Thank you for the responses Terry and Matt! I go back to my McKenzie physical therapist tomorrow to see the improvement. Right now, the leg tingling hasn't gone away completely, but it is noticeably reduced. I swear though, if it's not one thing, it's another. I am getting tingling down the right leg now, and my low back hurts on the left (even though the bulge favors the right). Could this be more serious? I'm leaning more and more towards surgery; however, I still want the non-surgical options first before I continue.

Peyton Bush
07-12-2012, 07:35 PM
Ronald, just thought I would add another anecdote. I had a bulge at L4/L5 that I got deadlifting before I started crossfit and learned how to do them properly. The disc is also degenerative. The most I could do was 265 at the time, and I tried to workout/lift through the pain for almost a year. My sciatica was down the left leg. Only pain, no weakness or numbness, which is a very important distinction. According to my ortho and my little bro who is a sports med doctor, the scale of severity related to nerve compression starts with local pain, then down the leg, then numbness/tingling in the feet, then you crap yourself (in general...also depends on bulge vs. herniation, etc.).

I was ready to do the surgery before my second shot, but my doc told me to give it one or two more. After I got the second shot and got relief, I decided I would do everything I could to avoid the surgery. I took three months off all activity and treated my back with kid gloves. Then, I did three months of pilates with someone who was also a PT. She helped me strengthen the tiny stabilizer muscles around the disc, stretch out my EXTREMELY tight hamstrings and calves, and gain awareness of proper spine position. The last two helped me the most. I have read and been told that tight muscles can pull you're spine out of position and exacerbate the condition, so I tried to eliminate that from the equation and it turned out to be a HUGE factor. After three months of pilates, I started crossfit. Easily the best thing I have ever done. I am anal about rolling out for 10-15 minutes pre-workout, and static/active stretching after. I'm up to 365 on my deadlift (after 9 mos.) and rising fast and am starting to feel more fit at 37 than I did as a 24 year old Marine Lieutenant with a 300 PFT. However, when I don't roll/stretch, my body lets me know immediately. I have a desk job, and the worst activity I do for my back is sitting down.

My point is, I wouldn't give in and do the surgery just yet. You can fight it and win if you're smart, patient, and disciplined about it. I know people have stories of big lifts right after surgery, but I wouldn't approach it that way from the start. Listen to your body. I still get "zaps" down my leg if I get out of position and have occasional spells of pain, but those typically occur when I don't workout for a few days or do something else stupid. Get a good ortho, but don't accept what he tells you as gospel. He will tell you not to squat or deadlift, but what he really should be saying is do not squat or deadlift with bad technique. Doing those lifts with good form will vastly improve your condition. Doing them with poor form will vastly worsen it, in my opinion (which seems to be holding true).

Sorry for the long post, but I have done a TON of research on this stuff, have gone through it, and have a lot to say about it. I hope it helps and adds to your perspective. Good luck, man.

Matt A. Windsor
07-13-2012, 06:25 AM
My point is, I wouldn't give in and do the surgery just yet. You can fight it and win if you're smart, patient, and disciplined about it. I know people have stories of big lifts right after surgery, but I wouldn't approach it that way from the start. Listen to your body. I still get "zaps" down my leg if I get out of position and have occasional spells of pain, but those typically occur when I don't workout for a few days or do something else stupid. Get a good ortho, but don't accept what he tells you as gospel. He will tell you not to squat or deadlift, but what he really should be saying is do not squat or deadlift with bad technique. Doing those lifts with good form will vastly improve your condition. Doing them with poor form will vastly worsen it, in my opinion (which seems to be holding true).

Agree with all of this 100%. I will point out (if I didn't already) that at the time I chose surgery, time was a major factor. (E.g., I needed to know that I'd be able to do pushups/situps/2 mile run in 6 months after surgery.) Granted, I made darn sure that I had a GOOD back surgeon...but I didn't have years to mess around with it.

This being said, had I had that chance, I'd have done exactly as above. The ONLY place I'll disagree is to say that if you find a good sports-centric ortho they'll tell you that as long as you play it smart you can get back to doing what you want. My back surgeon told me "Oh yeah, 6 months later, you'll probably be at 75% of deadlift capacity AS LONG AS you give it time to heal." And he was right. :)

Anyways, I can tell you that even AFTER surgery, if I don't do back strengthening exercises, it'll go out on me occasionally (every year or so), but as long as I DO, I'm strong as an ox. :)

Michael Burke
07-13-2012, 07:20 AM
Hey Ronald,

I had a herniated l5-s1 confirmed w/ MRI, and had sciatica pretty bad for about 6 months. I was in denial for a while but eventually realized that I just couldn't keep up with sports/lifting without the daily 'hell to pay' the next morning. I remember the day of the MRI I got a real pathetic look from the attendent because I could barely put my shoes back on and tie them.

I was also a candidate for the shots and if that didn't work possibly surgery...but I ended up going to a McKenzie PT, and along with a regular Dr ended up doing the McKenzie protocol of stretches daily...actually even at higher frequency, like every half hour when I could do the cobra stretch for say 8 reps...all day long. I did that for 3 months and had a noticible improvement after one month.

I also did a round of oral steroids, prednisone, which although I understand that's controversial it was a wonderful vacation from pain during that time. And, after I came off of that (I think it was like 10-14 days) I went on prescription dose NSAIDS for the remainder of my treatment which ended up being in total about 3 months to pain/symptom free.

It took me another couple of months to regain ROM, flexibility, and testing the waters again to get back into weights and correct form problems...but all in all I was back to lifting again about a year to the day from my initial injury although it would have been much, much sooner if I had not been so stubborn about initially seeking treatment.

Just wanted to share my experience. I do think the anti-inflammatories were a big part of my recovery, and I do think that the McKenzie stuff helped.

Other things I did which I'd say helped in the recovery where 1) quit running and playing judo during recovery, 2) no weights 3) basic PT core stuff, non flexion based like planks, superman, bird-dog, etc, working up to BW only reverse hypers 4) walking daily and 5) switched my workstation from sitting to standing, and overall tried not to sit for long periods of time.

I did some basic traction in the form of hanging from ab straps while being partially supported on a chair. I think that helped as well or at least it felt good.

Stephanie Arseneault
07-18-2012, 11:02 AM
Peyton, I sent you a PM, go check it out! ;)

Ronald Kim
07-18-2012, 07:23 PM
To all that went through a microdiscectomy, what type of physical therapy program did you go through? Would you recommend the traditional stretching and exercise? McKenzie? Thanks.

Matt A. Windsor
07-19-2012, 06:36 AM
Bluntly put, I didn't do much in the way of 'organized' PT. Looking back on it, I should have, but that was 7 years ago, and my back is fantastic. In general, I was allowed to walk from day 1 (though for the first week I didn't want to do much of that LOL). After about a week, I was allowed to drive; and after about a month I requested and received approval to work on an elliptical trainer. My justification was that it would mimic normal movements and definitely work out my muscles, while being no-impact. The doctor agreed, and I can tell you that it DEFINITELY helped me. In the first session I felt so many muscles relax, release and get 'back into place' it was almost orgasmic. LOL!

In any event, maybe 1.5 months after surgery, I was released to do VERY low key back exercises (e.g., bending over, deadlifts with a 10# weight in each hand, and so on). After 3 months I was released to do normal weightlifting at maybe 25% to 50% capacity, and at 4 months I was totally released. 6 months after surgery I did a 275# deadlift with no pain or discomfort (other than the normal discomfort LOL).

I CAN tell you that long-term, if you do get surgery, I STRONGLY suggest that whatever exercise program you're on, take maybe 10 minutes/day to do focused lower back exercises (e.g., planks, Roman chair, pushups with your feet on an unstable surface, etc.) to keep those lower back muscles in shape and strong.

Blair Robert Lowe
07-19-2012, 07:40 AM
Ever try Reverse Hypers or an inversion chair or just simply working a lot of hanging to stretch out the spine?

Terry A Carey
07-19-2012, 11:38 AM
Ron,
I had no specific PT..being in the fitness field my doc was confidnet that I could rehab myself.

If I remember correctly I was walking right away.I think it took me 3 months before I started running again and regular strength training.I was so weak after months of laying on the couch and not eating that this took me awhile.

I had a bit of numbness for a while down my calf but that cleared after a bit.The searing butt hamstring pain was gone immediatly.After I woke up from surgery it felt like someone hit me in the back with a baseball bat but it was better than the nerve pain I had for 8 weeks.

This was in 98-99

Hope this helps!

Terry

Matt A. Windsor
07-19-2012, 02:02 PM
Terry describes the way I felt EXACTLY. There was some lingering numbness down my calf/left buttock, but it was there all the time, in a different way, and less severe, so I know/knew it had to do with the fact that the nerve had to be manipulated during surgery. That went away after maybe 2 weeks. The severe pain in my lower back, hamstring, etc. was immediately gone - replaced by the baseball bat pain Terry describes above. There was also, obviously, tightness in that area for a good 4 months or so, until it healed completely and it got strengthened and loosened up over time.

Bryan Arciero
07-20-2012, 07:15 AM
A month post-surgery and the "smashed in the back" feeling has gone away, but holy f**k my nerve isnt happy. The Medrol dose pack has helped, but I'm now feeling pain (due to nerve irritation/inflammation) if I do any sort of back-bending. P/T has been kinda helpful (there's more range of motion, and the pain is localized around my lower back instead of shooting down my leg), but I never had this before surgery, and I'm still waking up with a tight calf. I'm praying to sweet little tuxedo baby Jesus that it's just nerve inflammation that will go away, but I'm an impatient SoB. Thankfully the range of motion is back, so apparently the surgery was a success, but f**k me if the damn sciatic nerve isnt being a fat bastard again.

Matt A. Windsor
07-23-2012, 06:17 AM
Ah, yes, I'd forgotten about that. That was there with me after surgery for about 2 months; but yes, it did go away. Yeah, it was a pain in the butt; most likely, it was due to any nerve manipulation during surgery.

It's happened to me with other surgeries. I had ankle surgery in December 2010 (broke off an 8mm piece of my left lateral malleolus - that actual 'ankle bone' you see on the side of your leg) to reattach some tendons/ligaments to the new 'bottom' of my fibula.

Well, I guess to do that the nerve had to be pushed out of the way. My foot overall was painful, but holy CRAP, for some reason, my little toe felt like it had been smashed with a ball peen hammer - literally. And it persisted for like a MONTH.

If I'm not mistaken, long as it's localized, you're good. I was impatient too...but it does get better. :)

Ronald Kim
08-02-2012, 08:14 PM
Here's the update. Physical therapy has discharged me from their care. I enjoy the McKenzie program, but I feel like I need more, maybe some stretching or walking. Right now I'm trying to get surgery; however, for those who are familiar with the way military treatment works, well, it's taking a while. Ortho doesn't fully agree I'm a surgery candidate, so they want me to see Sports Medicine AGAIN for a confirmation. The radiology report from my MRI even says "Surgery recommended". I am very frustrated. The thing that concerns me is that my leg tingling is getting better. It just feels like my hamstring is pulled. Prolonged sitting will sometimes affect my leg, but for the most part I'm okay. My low back is now starting to irritate me a little. So what does this mean? Is a microdiscectomy for me? Well I don't see sports med until 21AUG so now it's the waiting game. Maybe I'll make a recovery before I even get to surgery lol. Oh well. Does anyone have a workout plan with this type of injury? I'm tired of just sitting around. Even if it means push ups, or straight pull ups or even bench pressing the barbell. I know I need to stay away from squats and deadlifts, but I'm coming up on almost a year for this injury.

Camille Lore
08-03-2012, 07:29 AM
Not sure if Kelly Moore has chimed in here yet, but you'd get a lot of info reading her current workout log.

Ronald Kim
08-13-2012, 06:53 PM
So right now, I'm lost. I still feel a little pain in my low back like someone punched me, and there is some tingling (which feels like a pulled hamstring) going down my right leg behind my knee and in to my calf. I am not doing physical therapy; however, I have been getting on the elliptical for about 20-25 minutes with not too much difficult. I stretch with a jump rope lying down keep my leg straight, I do some bridges, some planks, and I am trying to get some muscular strength and do pull ups, push ups and dips without any kipping or bending. I see the doctor next Tuesday, and surgery still has me thinking. A lot of folks who I've read about that has had surgery have severe debilitating pain down their legs. I don't have that. My low back hurts (especially when picking things up), and my leg gets a little pain and tingling sometimes. I'm at a loss because as of right now, I'm seeing military doctors, and for those of you know, it's not great. I'm still discharged from the McKenzie physical therapist with no luck. I've also had 3 epidural shots. My request for surgery got kicked back to see sports med before the final "yes", but the radiology report on my MRI says surgery.

I just don't know what to do now if I should just suck it up? I still can't do very many things and I need to be able to get back to full duty status otherwise I'm in trouble.

What I'm worried about is I initially started my injury with no leg pain and a bulging disc. I picked up a heavy tent one day (not by myself), and now I'm getting leg pain. My MRI was in February. New MRI? Thoughts on my situation? Thanks.

Blair Robert Lowe
08-13-2012, 09:08 PM
Try some Single leg deadlifts. It's a weird exercise but it helps my right leg where my hip attaches to my lower back. I always end up getting pain there whenever I lift heavy or lots of volume.

Ronald Kim
09-03-2012, 09:33 AM
Alright, so here's the update. The Ortho surgeon said that I wouldn't be a good candidate for surgery. He says what I describe to him for pain is what patients who undergo the surgery feel after the surgery. Plus, he couldn't guarantee any benefit from the surgery. That's all okay with me because if I don't need surgery, I don't want it, especially from a military doctor :/ lol.

He put an order in for a MRI to double check and make sure all is good. MRI scheduled beginning of October.

I'm currently taking Lyrica, which was working initially, now it's not doing anything.

Now I'm just waiting for physical therapy AGAIN. Can this be any more frustrating?

Brian Strump
09-03-2012, 10:31 AM
Look for Gray Cook. He has an office somewhere in VA. If it's too far from you, I would ask their office if they can refer you to someplace closer to you. If he's less than an hour drive, I would consider making the trek.


Alright, so here's the update. The Ortho surgeon said that I wouldn't be a good candidate for surgery. He says what I describe to him for pain is what patients who undergo the surgery feel after the surgery. Plus, he couldn't guarantee any benefit from the surgery. That's all okay with me because if I don't need surgery, I don't want it, especially from a military doctor :/ lol.

He put an order in for a MRI to double check and make sure all is good. MRI scheduled beginning of October.

I'm currently taking Lyrica, which was working initially, now it's not doing anything.

Now I'm just waiting for physical therapy AGAIN. Can this be any more frustrating?

Aaron Wayne Campbell
09-07-2012, 12:37 PM
Ronald, sorry for not seeing this sooner. I'm in a similar situation. I developed a buldging disc with small herniation at L4/L5 while doing a dead lift wod. Disc was pushing on the left L5 - sciatic pain, muscle spasms, and some weakness and tingling in my foot (and lots of expletives). This was in early July (but I think the problem started in May - I ignored the pain and then made it much worse in July).

Finally got the MRI, went to see an Ortho, and he told me to try PT first. Said a lot of orthos would operate on me but he would only do it as last resort. Glad I didn't have the surgery. I'm seeing a good PT, McKenzie certified. Just did the McKenzie exercises alone for a month 3-5 times per day.

Am now starting some exercises that do not involve spinal flexion. Whatever I do, I just make sure I don't flex my back. Stuff that is working for me - push ups (use your knees if you need to), pull ups (use a band if kipping hurts), ring rows, ring dips, light overhead squats (if you have good technique), light presses, air squats, light kettle bell squats (I made this up). I'm swimming also. So far I still can't run, jump due to pain- and PT told me not to. Also not doing any back squats, front squats, or heavy overhead (afraid of leaning forward and afraid of loading the spine too heavy). Whatever you're doing, if it hurts, stop immediately!

Also, get lumbar support whenever you sit down. Make sure your lumbar is in lordosis as much as possible. Try not to sit down too long.

Flexeril is really helping with the spasms. I'm also rolling on a tennis ball or lacrosse ball to loosen them up. The McKenzie stretches help. Seems like it's worst first thing in the AM.

Hope this helps you. Was in the Army too and know it can be frustrating. It's a long recovery, but the odds are in your favor. Stay active, eat healthy, and stay positive.

Ronald Kim
09-23-2012, 08:49 PM
So I have a new Physical Therapist and he says I am dealing with two separate issues. So now aside from this bulging disc, I guess I'm also dealing with my SI Joint being out of alignment. I'm just so aggravated with dealing with military doctors I swear. Fortunately, PT is off base. I'm about to ask for a 2nd opinion off base also to see what they say.

Matt A. Windsor
09-25-2012, 06:42 AM
At this point, I would definitely do that; I chose to have a civilian check me out and I'm SO glad I did.

Ronald Kim
10-12-2012, 07:37 AM
Update. I'm currently taking Lyrica. I didn't get the 2nd opinion off base, it's an on base spine surgeon who I saw Wednesday, but I've talked to several other Marines around here and they say he's all business, which he was. Had another MRI done 03OCT12, said disc is just bulging (not herniated thank god), but it's pressing slightly on the L5 nerve root. With that being said, he administered a L5 nerve root block injection the yesterday...like I said, all business. He says if this works, I might be a surgical candidate, if not, he can't help me. I'm going to let it play out and hopefully I won't need surgery.

I've been doing PT off base and my PT is no stranger to back injuries. He's a rugby player and has had multiple disc issues and multiple surguries so he knows what's up. I swim about 500-750 meters for a warm up or 15 min on the eliptical no issues. Then he stretches me out real good. He also does some manipulations and mobilizations (which I'm not sure I want to continue with, any thoughts?). He yanks on my legs and he also twists my back once on each side for it to crack. He's a DPT, PT, and he's also a CSCS. He also has me wearing this SI belt, which I guess has been working. He believes I have an imbalance in my hips also, which could be true, especially since I have flat feet, which is what is causing my back pain on the other side of my back.

So a few days ago he wants to stop PT until next Tuesday, which is all good. He wants to see what is working. Will the injection work, is the PT working, meds working, do I have SI joint issues, etc. He wants me to take the weekend off, see how the injection goes, pain diary, etc. I want to get back in to PT, it makes me feel like I'm more active than just sitting around doing nothing. Suggestions, remarks, comments, etc? I am feeling a little relief in my leg from the injection, but not 100% yet.

John Lovins
10-19-2012, 02:53 PM
Ron,

I had a severe SI joint sprain one year.. then last year had bad inflammation around on my facet joints. Never had an MRI to see if I had disc issues but the physical tests I did ruled that out.

I was in pain every day for 3-4 months, had a hard time picking up my 2 yr old daughter and depression was setting in.

Started going to a PT and my hammies were TIGHT.. Like eye opening for the PT tight. She even said, wow, I'm surprised you're not injured more than you are.

So 6 weeks of an hour stretching a day and ALL pain was gone. Followed basic stretching, foam rolling, every mobility wod I could find for hamstring/hip/lower back/thoracic from k-star.

I'm sure you're heard most of this before, just wanted to give you my experience with back pain and how I treated it.

John