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Old 07-28-2008, 03:19 PM   #1
Scott Parker
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I'm back...well, sort of.

So it's been about seven months since i have done a WOD since injuring my back and being diagnosed with a herniated disc (initially i thought i wasn't herniated but got a copy of the doc's dictation and it says my L4-L5 is indeed herniated) and piriformis syndrome/sciatica.

i started back in the mix by doing 'Angie' a couple times, then 'jason', and just the other day 150 KB swings for time. (used the 44lb as opposed to the 53lb.) subbed pull-ups and dips for muscle-ups (i used to be able to do muscle-ups like it was nobody's business, can hardly do 1 or 2 now!) and have to say i am veryy happy to be back.

since being diagnosed in february (stopped CF'ing in december because of the pain) i haven't really been able to do much, and anything that resulted in even the least bit of hyperextension of my lower back (ie: push-ups, pull-ups with even the tiniest bit of swing/kip, and anything overhead was out of the question.) i still can run or jump because the impact sends some nasty little electrical shocks down my backside and legs, but as long as i am very conscious of my posture, stretch a ton and keep good form (i have always been a stickler for form anyway) i am ok so far. i went through PT, postural relearning, etc with minimal improvement. my back actually feels great, but it's the piriformis syndrome that is really hurting.

also, it's very frustrating because i have lost almost 15 lbs since my injury. i am the type of person who can eat and eat and eat, but if i don't work out i don't gain weight (yes, i know this could be worse.)

currently i am back in the 'globo' gym setting, which is ok because i am actually lucky enough to have a gym with a platform & bumpers (never is used) and i can bring in my kettlebells, dynamax balls and am trying to convince them to let me hang my rings from the supports that hold the basketball backboards into the wall. i am surprised because they have several trainers there that are CF certified and spotted me immediately and encouraged me to do my thing and bring in my own gear.

i would be training at an affiliate, but was kindly asked to leave back in the beginning of december for what i thought was due to a personality clash between myself and the owner, and after a lengthy letter of apology and basically getting down on my hands and knees begging forgiveness and asking to return, i was denied, reason being that the owner said it had nothing to do with personality conflicts, but was based on the fact that he and i had entirely different views of, and approaches to what we thought crossfit was. i can totally respect that. before training at his facility i was lucky enough to be at what i considered to be one of the best CF facilities in the country, and now in hindsight see his approach as still being totally CrossFit, just a different approach, but still getting the same results. it's too bad i didn't realize it then, and it's too bad he can't aloow me to come back, but i guess we all live and learn, right?

regardless, i am going to make the best with what i have and have a great time doing it and getting back into shape! it's good to be back.
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Old 07-28-2008, 07:46 PM   #2
Ric Lister
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Re: I'm back...well, sort of.

Hi Scott. I feel your pain ... literally. I herniated L5-S1 several years ago. I'm trying to avoid any kind of surgery, but had a good experience with epidural steroid injections (I had two). The injections removed the crippling sciatica in my left leg that was stopping me from driving or even anything more strenuous than walking. I still have back pain, but the sciatica only re-occurs fleetingly if I traumatise my back.

Disclaimer: I have no medical training and know little about piriformis syndrome.
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Old 07-28-2008, 09:08 PM   #3
Scott Parker
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Re: I'm back...well, sort of.

Ric-

yeah i had 4 steroid injections all at once, one in each piriformis muscle and one in each SI joint. did absolutely nothing aside from a numb buttcheeck because part of the nerve was hit. the injections weren't painful, but didnt do me any good. mine seems to flare up after a night's sleep or staying in any one particular position for a lengthy period of time, and i wake up and am really stiff and get shooting pains in my butt and hips radiating down to my feet like electrical shocks, (i used to be super flexible and had a nice high guard and could gogoplata people in jiujitsu like nobody's business and throw both feet over my head. can't do that anymore.) and it goes away once i start moving, especially when working out. it virtually disappears for several hours after a workout and then is back the next day when i wake up. it also starts hurting after a long 12 hour day at work in the ER (i'm an RN) so i have to be extra aware of my posture and body position and tilt of my pelvis when sitting and standing, but as long as my form is good i can squat, DL, etc, just nothing that caused impact, like running or box jumps. i did do push jerks today with just the bar and felt great.
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Old 07-29-2008, 10:21 AM   #4
Andrew Hogan
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Re: I'm back...well, sort of.

I hate to tell you guys but it is gonna get worse and you are gonna need surgery....I just had my second surgery.....you have to take it real easy...write back with questions if you have them.
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Old 07-29-2008, 10:58 AM   #5
Scott Parker
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Re: I'm back...well, sort of.

just to clarify are you talking about surgery for piriformis syndrome or for a disc? if you're referring to piriformis syndrome i have to say you are very wrong. there is a procedure for it, but it is not done often and has a very low success rate. stretching, tolerated activity and ice and time seem to be the best for getting over it.

as far as disc injuries are concerned, i still have to disagree. obviously every case is different, and depending on how bad your disc is herniated/buldging and how well you take care if it, rehab it, your age, and listening to your body will all play factors in your recovery if surgery is necessary or not.

i particularly went to D.O. who specialized in sports related back injuries and pain mgmt, and is not a surgeon, but works closely with one. i think WAY too many people are too quick to go under the kife, just as many of us are super quick to go to the doc and get some magical pill to fix all the damage we've done to ourselves over the years (ie. crappy diet, sedentary lifestyle, etc). i am only 32 years old, and have to say that there are many other options to try and consider before letting a surgeon cut me open. also, a lot of fusions and discectomies don't cure the problem, or only offer little to no relief, and on occasion make things worse, and yes there are also people who get their lives back and experience 100% success as well.

just look around here. there are people with back injuries, herniated discs, etc. who have actually gained back functionality from CrossFit. others have inured themselves even further doing what we do. you just have to know your body and listen to it and not try to go to big. another thing is to learn how to do the movements CORRECTLY and have proper instruction. there are a lot of people doing CrossFit now, and i am sure a lot of them are doing it incorrectly with no formal training or instruction which leads to injury.
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Old 07-29-2008, 02:55 PM   #6
Christopher Gaskin
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Re: I'm back...well, sort of.

Scott,

Thanks so much for the post!! It is so good to hear from someone who is in a similar situation. I was diagnosed with a herniated disc about 2 month ago. The doc did not do an MRI as he said that my symptoms were classic, and he advised me against surgery.

I waited it out doing alot of nothing, feeling sorry for my self and getting no better. MY first sign of improvement, oddly enough, came after I read Dr. Sarno's book Healing Back Pain. It is a good read, but unfortunately I think its bad science, but that is another story. It has raised a question though...if the pain is caused by the disc material bulging onto the nerve, the body should after some time, react by turning off (yes that is a professional term) the nerve. Please correct me if I am wrong. But if that is the case, what is causing the pain?

I am still is a bit of pain when I do air squats, and sneezing is still fairly uncomfortable. I decided i had enough of feeling sorry for myself, so I have just started to get back into CF. I am taking it very easy, just doing 3 days a week and scaling the workouts. I did Jeremy last Friday, subbing 45lb OHS, and felt some discomfort, but today, I feel better than I did last week. My total yesterday was pathetic, as I could only do 135lb on the squat and the deadlift, but I feel no worse after doing it, so I guess that is a good thing.

If you don't mind me asking Scott, are there any specific things that helped you during your rehab?

Any insights would be greatly appreciated!!

Best regards,

Chris (32, M, 6ft, 170lb)
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Old 07-29-2008, 08:30 PM   #7
Scott Parker
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Re: I'm back...well, sort of.

my doc tried putting me on narcotics, but i declined. i ended up taking Cymbalta ( a med originally developed for depression but also is now approved for neuropathic pain and is prescribed to diabetics wqith neuropathy and people with nerve pain). it helped but took a while to be effective, has some undesirable side effects for some men (erectile dysfunction), and can't quit cold turkey (i quit cold turket instead of tapering and its a bit unplesant. i'm a nurse and should know better, but what the heck. also taking ibuprophen and using ice.

also did physical therapy, did a lot of stretching, learing how to tilt my pelvis and postural relearning.

next, you need to be patient and listen to your body. i hadn't worked out in like 7 months, and i was miserable, and very slowly started getting back into things. there are still things i cant do like jumping and running, but that will hopefully come in time.

just dont over do it, or you will set your self back even further, or worse, injure yourself even more.
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Old 07-30-2008, 01:12 AM   #8
Matthew Govea
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Re: I'm back...well, sort of.

I herniated my L3-L4 and L4-L5 discs on 27 April 2007. Returned to CrossFit at the beginning of Feb. Rehabbed fairly successfully and steadily, my problem was the transition from being "cleared for work" to getting back in real shape. What I found is that it was much better for me to focus on powerlifting movements with linear progression then add in a short smoker at the end made up of movements that were less risky (half-cindy). In time I was back to the unscaled WOD and not worried about compromising my back while doing it. Here's a few things that worked for me:

-The McKenzie Method was the best thing for my sciatica.

-Initially, I had my girlfriend put 2 strips of athletic tape on my lumbar curve while I had proper posture. I found out I was putting too much arch in and tiring my back out needlessly.

-Sleeping with a towel wrapped around my waist, then eventually getting a pad designed for that .

-Hot shower and stretch immediately in the morning.

-Icing after any stress on it

-Stretching periodically and not maintaining the same position for too long.

-While standing in a pool, moving my legs in different directions while locking down my core.

-I use one of those big inflatable balls for a chair, and use it for a rolling stretch now that I can do both extension and flexion.

-Ibuprofen when I need it, but usually it's just as a precaution in case there's been some unusual stiffness and I'll be working later.

P.S. You guys probably didn't need that stuff, but I'm sure there's a lurker that might. Go see a doctor and get an MRI Lurker, since anything posted only pertained to my situation!
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Old 07-30-2008, 03:30 AM   #9
Scott Parker
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Re: I'm back...well, sort of.

Matthew,

really nice info. i never heard of the McKenzie method but will definately be doing a search on it! thanks!
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Old 07-30-2008, 07:09 AM   #10
Matthew Govea
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Re: I'm back...well, sort of.

No problem. I actually got most of my leads from this board. McKenzie's book is called 7 Steps to a Pain Free Life, I believe. You may have used something called a press-up in your therapy sessions. I know I did, but getting the book and learning the rest of the program helped out immensely. Especially when I reached that critical point where I was "healed" and on my own unless I had a relapse.
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