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Thread: Recovery from a herniated disc

  1. #26
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    Dude that sucks. About seven years ago I had bulging disc that caused me to go down for a couple of days. I still have "stiffness" and I have a hard time keeping control droping on squats unless the weight is not close to max.

    That said you are younger than I am and I imagine you'll heal up fine. One thing you might want to keep in mind is that even after I felt pretty good anything that caused my hips to shift from side to side, like bumping into a table caused pain.

    Don't rush it.

  2. #27
    There may be hope yet. JustinASU's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeG View Post
    Dude that sucks. About seven years ago I had bulging disc that caused me to go down for a couple of days. I still have "stiffness" and I have a hard time keeping control droping on squats unless the weight is not close to max.

    That said you are younger than I am and I imagine you'll heal up fine. One thing you might want to keep in mind is that even after I felt pretty good anything that caused my hips to shift from side to side, like bumping into a table caused pain.

    Don't rush it.
    Joe - any healing/rehab tips you used to great success aside from what's been mentioned?
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  3. #28
    HomeYield WillKuenzel's Avatar
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    Dude, if you put a bar on your back before you see a physical therapist I will personally drive up there and kick you in the teeth.

    I know you. Don't tell me you haven't thought about it.

    If the only piece of advice you ever follow that I give you is going to a PT then I've done something. You're so freaking hard-headed it's not even funny (well sort of), and I know I can come across as being an extreme dick about things sometimes to you but you have to do this. If it is a herniate disc, this isn't something you can train around. You have to see somebody that can tell you what the issues are (because I'm positive it's more than one, knowing your history of stretching).

    Call around, get some consultations. You don't have to commit to anything. Find out if you need a referral from your doctor. Call different places and see if they take your insurance, then set up an appointment and go in and see if they know what they're talking about. You know enough about lifting at this point to know if they're ****ting you or not. They'll have everything there to get you started and get you back on your feet. They can determine if it's your hips, lower back or what that's probably pulling something out of whack. Your chiro should really be able to tell you what it is but if they haven't, find a PT. I'm not kidding. This is your back. Not some little muscular deviation in the shoulder that you can work around or do something else until it heals. This is your freaking back where all kinds of things can go wrong. If you don't take steps now to treat it properly, it will come back to bite you in the ass. I've seen it before and I'm hoping not to see it again with you.

    I realize that I'm being harsh but sometimes I think you need it. Please, listen.
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  4. #29
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HomeYield View Post
    You have to see somebody that can tell you what the issues are (because I'm positive it's more than one, knowing your history of stretching).

    If you don't take steps now to treat it properly, it will come back to bite you in the ass.
    Just thought highlighting might not be a bad idea...

    edit: ...and btw, it might not come back to bite you in the ass - it might bite you in the quad, the knee, the lower back, or even the ankle. A bad lower back can throw you off in so many ways it's not even funny.
    Last edited by Sensei; 04-19-2007 at 12:29 PM.
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
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  5. #30
    There may be hope yet. JustinASU's Avatar
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    Will - your harshness has saved my ass plenty of times, so don't apologize for coming across that way. You and Isaac have alway been there to kick me into shape when I'm doing something stupid.

    The plan at this point is to continue seeing the chiro for 1-2 more sessions, to see if he's worth a ****. I really don't care about his reputation unless he produces results for me, and fast. It's kinda funny - he says I'll be 100% in a matter of weeks, with his help. He says I can do some light lifting, just lay off the deads and squats. The GP said not to lift anything that weighs more than 10 lbs and that it still may eventually require surgery.

    Aside from that I'll finish this course of prednisone - the worst drug evar and drop an ibuprofen when necessary.

    If the chiro fails me, I'm going back to the GP on May 1st and I'll get a PT referral at that point. No bars on the back until the Chiro or PT can tell me what's up. I guess that really means no pressing either, since my bench involves a nasty arch and OHP compresses the spine.

    Anyway, thanks to those of you who have given me solid advice.
    Last edited by JustinASU; 04-19-2007 at 01:43 PM.
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  6. #31
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    Did you have pain from your sciatic nerve too?

  7. #32
    There may be hope yet. JustinASU's Avatar
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    That's really the only source of my pain so far as I can tell. I guess the damaged disc is still inflamed and pressing against the nerve.
    Last edited by JustinASU; 04-19-2007 at 02:29 PM.
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  8. #33
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    That sounds very familiar. Don't let that pain continue very long. I let mine go for about a year and it caused slight nerve damage. Just a heads up. Hopefully you'll jump back quick.

  9. #34
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustinASU View Post
    It's kinda funny - he says I'll be 100% in a matter of weeks, with his help.
    Hmmm.
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
    Lifting Clips: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=johnnymnemonic2
    Blog: http://squatrx.blogspot.com/

  10. #35
    There may be hope yet. JustinASU's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensei View Post
    Hmmm.
    My thoughts exactly...I have a feeling he thinks its a slight bulge as opposed to a herniation. I know he's a reputable guy, but, the fact remains that he doesn't have a traditional medical degree.
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  11. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustinASU View Post
    Will - your harshness has saved my ass plenty of times, so don't apologize for coming across that way. You and Isaac have alway been there to kick me into shape when I'm doing something stupid.

    The plan at this point is to continue seeing the chiro for 1-2 more sessions, to see if he's worth a ****. I really don't care about his reputation unless he produces results for me, and fast. It's kinda funny - he says I'll be 100% in a matter of weeks, with his help. He says I can do some light lifting, just lay off the deads and squats.

    Anyway, thanks to those of you who have given me solid advice.
    Justin go research as much as you can about the intervertral disks in general. Then research what a bulged disk is and how these disks naturally degenerate anyway, not to mention when you severely damage them. This will show you how insane it sounds to hear your chiro telling you you will be 100% in weeks. First of all he would have to know how severe the herniation is to truly assess the injury, which isnt possible without the MRI. Maybe he doesnt understand the intensity with which you lift. You will get better if things are done right, but 100% in weeks is beyond jumping the gun. This is something to be taken slowly and seriously so that you CAN get back to 100%
    IMO.
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  12. #37
    Hulk Smash! LouPac's Avatar
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    Justin, I had a herniated disk in my L5 that really limited my mobility for almost a year. The orthopedist I went to wanted to prescribe drug treatments and epidoral shots for me but I decided to see a chiropractor. I went to a chiropractor for almost a year, and while I felt better, I was still in a lot of pain. There were days I could not get out of bed, and on the really good days my wife had to put my socks on for me and tie my shoes because I couldn't bend over. Then my chiropractor got this machine in: http://www.painreliefcenters.net/drx9000.htm and after 6 weeks of treatment on it I felt unbelievably better. It pretty much healed me. I have back pain from time to time when I paly basketball, but it doesn't come close to what I used to feel. I recommend trying to find a place that has this machine, it truly did wanders for me.

  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustinASU View Post
    \It's kinda funny - he says I'll be 100% in a matter of weeks, with his help. He says I can do some light lifting, just lay off the deads and squats. The GP said not to lift anything that weighs more than 10 lbs and that it still may eventually require surgery.
    Just like Sensei pointed out, that sketches me out, too. While I have no doubt that you can be improved in a few weeks, if the injury is as you've indicated, you will not be 100%. Quite frankly, you may not be 100% ever again. That's not to say you'll never get stronger and improve, but you'll probably always have to be "aware" of your back. Wilma knows how many training sessions I've had to cut short because my back started to spasm.

    I wouldn't be ****ing with any lifting for a little while. You're past the acute stage, but not by much.

    Keep putting in the good work. As Vin D said, it's a marathon, not a sprint.
    Last edited by Isaac Wilkins; 04-20-2007 at 05:24 AM.
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  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustinASU View Post
    Joe - any healing/rehab tips you used to great success aside from what's been mentioned?
    Yeah, I'm sorry I didn't mention it before.

    Ab work really seemed to help. Now its a bit early for any ab work like sit ups, crunches etc I would imagine but the low impact stuff like laying on your back with your arms straight over your head. Then lift your arms and leg just slightly off the ground and hold it as long as you can without pain.

    You can change that up and elevate one arm and then the other leg.

    Its not much in the way of exercise but it really did seem to help early.

  15. #40
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    Hey.. i'm 16.. i herniated my l4-l5 disc a year and a few days ago myself..
    here are a few tips..

    don't get back to weight training too quickly!! I made that mistake myself and went back to training after a few weeks and made everything worse than before..

    this is what I recommend:
    -Heat the area 3-4x a day(it's been too many days to continue icing)
    -Continue resting.. do not start exercising!!
    -Get on good medication
    -Purchase an inversion table or a traction belt that you can wear throughout the day

    After another week I would say begin the pelvic tilt.. progress onto other exercises later..

    It took me about 6 months until I started doing bodyweight and resistance band exercises.. It's been about 3 or so months that I'm weight training again.. and i'm relatively pain free in the lumbar region.. But i'm not barbell rowing, barbell squatting or deadlifting.. just to risky at the moment.. And not to give your hopes up.. but those exercises are going to be out of the question for you for atleast a year..

    I haven't done much core training.. I recommend you do some reasearch on that.. and if you find a good set of core exercises please sen them to me too

    (AVOID HYPERS, REVERSE HYPERS, GHR'S ETC.. PROVEN TO HERNIATE THE DISC EVEN FURTHER...)

  16. #41
    HomeYield WillKuenzel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ali23 View Post
    (AVOID HYPERS, REVERSE HYPERS, GHR'S ETC.. PROVEN TO HERNIATE THE DISC EVEN FURTHER...)
    I'd like to see the proof for this. Hypers and GHR's maybe. Reverse hypers, I'm not that sure about. I've seen more positive proof for doing reverse hypers to help than not.
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  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by HomeYield View Post
    I'd like to see the proof for this. Hypers and GHR's maybe. Reverse hypers, I'm not that sure about. I've seen more positive proof for doing reverse hypers to help than not.
    Flexing the spine will cause the anterior surfaces of the vertebrae to articulate and the posterior surfaces to seperate which will compress the front of of the disk, most likely pushing the bulge further back. Flexion/extension tests are pretty basic protocol in diagnosing the difference between bulging disk probelms vs. narrowing of the foramen causing nerve impingement ect. That's where that advice comes from, but who knows how he will actually react to the movements and what will make HIM feel better worse etc.

    Discounting certain exercises completely in any individual that you havent seen personally is jumping the gun. We still dont know the extent of the injury, and just because the anatomy makes sense doesnt mean that's how an issue will always present. He could be fine with all the above movements, and strengthening the erector spinae is obviously something that needs to be addressed. Just after he is no longer in the subacute phase. That's why advice from 1000 miles away should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Ya seen a professional yet Justin? How are things.
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    Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination
    alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
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  18. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustinASU View Post
    My thoughts exactly...I have a feeling he thinks its a slight bulge as opposed to a herniation. I know he's a reputable guy, but, the fact remains that he doesn't have a traditional medical degree.
    First let me start off by saying that your chiropractor will no a hell of alot more about your spine than just about any general practitioner or PT. They spend the better part of their 7 years of education focusing specifically on the spine.

    Second it must be noted that a chiropractor is definately not the answer to all back and disc problems.

    I am a chiropractor, so I can offer a vantage point from my perspective. First off if you have insurance, get an MRI. X-rays are useful, but they only show bone structure. The disc is a soft tissue and does not show up on an x-ray. You can see loss of disc height on an X-ray which can be an indication of disc injury, but the discs degenerate naturally over time, so the MRI is the only way to tell. Orthopedic and neurologic testing are good tools, but can often show false positives. Get an MRI, depending on the results should dictate you next move. If it is a major herniation/protrusion with foraminal encroachment or fragmentation, you likely will need to consult an Orthopedic spinal specialist or a Neurosurgeon.

    Chiropractic care is efective for many cases of disc herniations and such, but it is a lengthy recovery (as is PT or any other treatment). If you do indeed have a buldge (quicker recovery usually) or herniation, it is unlikely you will be 100% in a couple weeks.

    I strongly reccomend getting a MRI. I wouldn't lift at all until you get the results. Ice to keep the inflamation down and use heat to increase circulation. Walk often on flat even ground (moderation is the key).

    Good luck and I hope this has been of some use.

  19. #44
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    If you're still feeling this "despair" during your recovery time you could take up grip training. Some exercises will be out of the question for awhile (thick bar lifts) but grippers and some wrist exercises, maybe even block weights are doable. Just make sure not to overtrain, which will be easy considering that may be your only lifting for awhile.
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  20. #45
    HomeYield WillKuenzel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smalls View Post
    Flexing the spine will cause the anterior surfaces of the vertebrae to articulate and the posterior surfaces to seperate which will compress the front of of the disk, most likely pushing the bulge further back. Flexion/extension tests are pretty basic protocol in diagnosing the difference between bulging disk probelms vs. narrowing of the foramen causing nerve impingement ect. That's where that advice comes from, but who knows how he will actually react to the movements and what will make HIM feel better worse etc.

    Discounting certain exercises completely in any individual that you havent seen personally is jumping the gun. We still dont know the extent of the injury, and just because the anatomy makes sense doesnt mean that's how an issue will always present. He could be fine with all the above movements, and strengthening the erector spinae is obviously something that needs to be addressed. Just after he is no longer in the subacute phase. That's why advice from 1000 miles away should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Ya seen a professional yet Justin? How are things.
    Just wanted to say, good post and re-ask the last 2 questions.
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  21. #46
    There may be hope yet. JustinASU's Avatar
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    Hey - looks like I might need to post an update.

    I completed my prednisone about 5 days ago, which I believe helped immensely. Since then I've been slowly getting back into things. The pain is quite minimal at this point, just a lot of stiffness and weakness. I have been doing a LOT of stretching and it really feels like my glutes/hams might be entirely too tight and causing the issues. I have also been doing a lot of band work. Band rows, band face pulls, band push-ups, etc. I'm getting back into benching, slowly but surely and I have added light weight Bulgarian split squats, since they have little effect on my back. GHRs also tend to make me feel MUCH better because they help stretch out the hams/glutes. Hell I hit a GHR PR (BW+45lbx20) the other day with no pain. The muscle atrophy has really started to kick in however...

    With all that being said, I saw my primary care physician today and she gave me a referral to a sports PT. I will be seeing the PT for 2 sessions (the first being tomorrow) with the goal of easing back into the heavy back movements. The PT is also a CSCS, so it should be quite interesting.

    I'll post again tomorrow and let you guys know how that goes. Thanks again for the advice and support.

    EDIT: I'm still struggling with how to keep my lower back strong, but I guess we'll see what the PT says.
    Last edited by JustinASU; 05-02-2007 at 09:56 PM.
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  22. #47
    Senior Member Sidior's Avatar
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    Hope the PT session goes well. Keep on truckin bro, there is light at the end of the tunnel somewhere.
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  23. #48
    HomeYield WillKuenzel's Avatar
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    Glad to hear, Justin. Keep us updated as to what they say.
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  24. #49
    There may be hope yet. JustinASU's Avatar
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    Well the PT session this morning was surprising (in a good way) and enlightening.

    The PT asked me about the pain and what I've been doing for it and so far I have been doing the right thing. I explained by routine and my goals. We tested the how weak the left side of my body is (from the sciata) with some hamstring curls, some kind of glute movement and some back extensions. Everything was doing well. He showed me some good stretches I could pursue to minimize the sciatic pain and stretch my lower back.

    There were a couple of things I found troubling as well. He said that not only should I avoid movements like GMs and spread eagle situps for now, but I should be wary of ever doing them again. Apparently, the increased ROM and need for leverage on these motions can be quite dangerous to a herniated disc. He offered some alternatives for the time being. He also did not want me benching with an arch right now, and if I can, to bench with my legs up, so as to take out the back. This is not a permanent thing, but for the time being, that's what he recommended.

    Finally, the big question....when can I return to deads, rows, squats...? He said I can start doing those immediately, as long as I focus on posture, form, and move up very gradually in weight. THAT was the best thing I've heard in weeks.

    I'm still quite scared of full squats since that's how the injury occurred (hams to calves) and since I'll never have to full squat in competition, I think I'll lay off those now and possibly forever. I realize it wasn't necessarily the motion itself, but since the motion requires absolutely perfect form in order to prevent further injury, I just can't justify it right now because my flexibility isn't there.

    The PT also told me I'm at about an 80% risk of re-injury. Essentially, my lifting has to turn into a science.
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  25. #50
    HomeYield WillKuenzel's Avatar
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    Glad to hear it went so well. Keep doing what he tells you to do and it'll pay off. Don't get lazy and don't get crazy.
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