When an injury isn't an injury but much more - how do you deal with it?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 16, 2011 6:48 PM GMT
    I've been off here a few months as I got all depressed on finding out what I thought was a back injury was actually much, much more. Need some advice from you guys on where to go from here.

    I am one of those guys who always thought I just had "a bad back" - you know? I've thrown it out moving, working, at the gym, playing sports, through the years - nothing too serious and never out of commission too long either. A couple of days on the heating pad and some tylenol or advil usually did the trick. Well, a while ago as I was going to the gym in the AM before work with the trainer, I did notice a soreness in my back that kind of lingered more than it should have - I just chalked it up to being away from the gym far too long and continued on. Training is going well I think (hope) I'm seeing progress, I'm feeling good - the plan seems to be on track. One Wednesday I'm leaving the gym and as I'm heading down the subway stairs, my left leg gets weird and my left foot goes numb, I miss a step and go crashing down (on my butt/back) the rest of the staircase. More embarrassed than anything, I brush myself off, thank God I'm wearing a dark suit (stairs were filthy!) and continue on to work. Left leg and foot still feeling odd, but I'm thinking now that its from the fall. My back isn't bothering me, but I notice after sitting down, when I go to stand up, the left leg feels like 50 lbs heavier and there's a feeling like something is pooled in my foot making it numb on the underside. Once I start walking, it tends to go away but I'm noticing I am walking with a limp.

    Skip the trainer the next day and do some cardio - treadmill is a disaster - running or walking - couldn't get into a flow as the left leg is feeling heavy and numb and seeing myself in the mirror, I looked pretty spastic. Opt for the bike - better, but again couldn't get into a flow. Discouraged, I get out and head to work and start doing some research on what kind of doctor I should go to as I know this is more than just from the fall, you know?

    Get a good recommendation and I make an appointment for Monday (this is Thursday). More of the same over the weekend - limping, feeling like I'm dragging this 50 lb heavier left leg, left foot feels like something is pooled in it and the bottom is kind of numb.

    Monday comes, I see the MD and I also see the chiro, the physical therapist and the physiatrist and get x-rays (its an all in one back, spinal and wellness place). Get prescribed some pain meds and told "no gym" until after x-rays reviewed. Make a follow up appointment for Thursday, back in and I'm not liking the looks on any of their faces when we meet. They lay it out for me - I have compression of the C5 and 6, spinal spurs, degenerative disc disease and no material left between the L4 and L5. Shocked is putting it mildly how I felt. Treatment options are discussed and surgery comes up. I made it clear I'd like to explore every other option before resorting to spinal surgery. They're cool with that.

    So now, here I am banned from the gym (or at least free weights) and any other activity that can/could put stress on my back and on pain meds. Still walking around with the limp/drag thing going on - in fact my only exercise is walking these days. I've gotten very down and withdrawn over this and it doesn't help that the meds I do take (for BP and cholesterol) now that I'm not at the gym, the side effects have kicked in - weight gain - ugh!

    I'm coming out of the doldrums a bit and I know I want to (need to) make changes and reassess my original plan, but I'm not sure how. Have any of you gents had any experience like/similar to this where you could not work with free weights? I'm trying to figure what else I could use and also not cause any strain on the back. I'm also figuring crunches are out too - any advice on abs w/o crunches?

    A very good friend has offered me their bowflex system (he swears it works great and he does look great) - anyone here ever had any success or know of anyone having success with a bowflex?

    Seriously, anything you got - let me know. I am grateful for any advice, tips, stories, you have.

    Thanks gents!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 16, 2011 10:39 PM GMT
    Go to your doctor NOW and get him to prescribe an MRI.
    I went through that exactly one year ago this week...herniated disks...L4 and 5.
    It took two months to get back to work, and I just "fully" recovered a couple weeks ago (no more pain).
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    Aug 16, 2011 11:41 PM GMT
    paulflexes saidGo to your doctor NOW and get him to prescribe an MRI.


    Sorry - should have mentioned he did prescribe one but the insurance company isn't approving - we've (him, his office, the other doctors, me) been fighting with them for weeks.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 18, 2011 12:13 AM GMT
    NYBeef said
    paulflexes saidGo to your doctor NOW and get him to prescribe an MRI.


    Sorry - should have mentioned he did prescribe one but the insurance company isn't approving - we've (him, his office, the other doctors, me) been fighting with them for weeks.

    Beg borrow or steal the money. Without it, it's going to cost you even more in the long run. Part of that cost will be your ability to walk.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 18, 2011 3:37 AM GMT
    Important question: Can you squat (no weights of course) all the way to the ground and back up without assistance?
  • danisnotstr8

    Posts: 2579

    Aug 18, 2011 3:46 AM GMT
    I've been through something VERY similar. Herniated discs. Ironically, no matter what they prescribed (skelaxin, naproxen horse pills, some other things) there's ONE thing that worked for me:

    Ibuprofen. By controlling the swelling, eventually, they popped back into place.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 18, 2011 4:12 PM GMT
    danisnotstr8 saidI've been through something VERY similar. Herniated discs. Ironically, no matter what they prescribed (skelaxin, naproxen horse pills, some other things) there's ONE thing that worked for me:

    Ibuprofen. By controlling the swelling, eventually, they popped back into place.
    If you had no MRI, you don't know whether or not your disks were herniated. An x-ray won't show that.
    The fact that yours healed from ibuprofen alone proves that there was no (or very little) herniation.
    The disks don't pop. The disks, when herniated, are compressed. The nerves are what swell.
    If your disks were truly herniated and you didn't have decompression treatment, you would be fully disabled right now.
  • JimDude

    Posts: 1

    Aug 20, 2011 12:17 PM GMT
    Hey beef, this is a horrible condition. I know, cause I have been there. Here in Germany, the orthopedic doctors won't let you do an operation until it's the only way out. They will first let you go to physiotherapy for 6 weeks, where they give you exercises and massage you. The exercises are supposed to strengthen your core (abs and back).

    I was also prescribed acupuncture, to no avail whatsoever.

    So I was operated upon and, just like Paul, only fully recovered after one year. It doesn't mean that I did not exercise after the operation - in fact, I had to start exercising 2 weeks after the operation, focusing mainly on back and abs. Just take it easy on yourself, it will all come back!

    I increased strength slowly, week after week. But i must say: I have never been as strong as now. Not just my back, but also other muscle groups are bigger and stronger. I must admit, that I am much more careful in the gym: I try to avoid exercises that put a lot of pressure on my spine, and I /always/ include some back exercises into my routines.

    Whenever I feel the slightest hint of pain, I relieve my back from any stress and do some core exercises.

    After my operation, I was eligible for 'reha', as they call rehabilitation here. That was really great. But I found out, that a lot of people actually go into 'reha' to /avoid/ being operated upon (Although my doctor always told me that loss of feeling (numbness) or urinary incontinence would require immediate operational action!). During reha, I was educated on how to avoid pressure on the spine and how to strengthen the core. I got myself one of these rubber balls en stretch my spine every once in a while, so that the discs get hydrated properly. I now have a standing desk at work and watch my posture constantly - especially in the gym.

    I would recommend you finding some sort of back/ab exercise center (there are a lot of them here in Germany, mostly combined with yoga and pilates lessons). Although you cannot lift heavy weights for a while, you can still stay in shape with 'natural' exercises, most of which are also used in pilates.

    I got my boss to do that, and he now swears by it - saying that his back problems decreased a lot since he started doing them every morning. He will probably not have to be operated upon.

    BTW, before and right after your operation: be *very* careful with rotational exercises. They might hurt your discs if they are not in good shape!
    BTW2, my hernia only showed up on the MRI, not on the x-ray
  • MikemikeMike

    Posts: 6932

    Aug 23, 2011 7:50 AM GMT
    NYBeef said
    paulflexes saidGo to your doctor NOW and get him to prescribe an MRI.


    Sorry - should have mentioned he did prescribe one but the insurance company isn't approving - we've (him, his office, the other doctors, me) been fighting with them for weeks.



    who is your insurance carrier??? Get the MRI done! It could affect your mobility later on!!!!!! Have your Dr. fax them a letter of medical necessity. If your insurance delays this it may cost them more in the long run. Like others have said an X-ray can't show alot of soft tissue damage.

    Good Luck- keep RJ posted.

    AND Obama care won't save you!!!