Slipped Disc

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    Sep 09, 2007 12:13 PM GMT
    Has anyone had any experience of a slipped disc? I have recently slipped a disc between vertebrae f4 & f5 and it's pressing my sciatic nerve, which causes agonising pain all the way down my left leg. The only time I am not in pain is when I am flat on my back or standing up straight, anything in between in just horribly uncomfortable.

    I am going for an MRI next Wednesday and my Doctor says the results of this will determine if I need back surgery or an epidural to realign the disc.

    I am little nervous about both the surgery and the epidural and wondered if anyone here had been through the same procedures and how if the problem was solved?

    I have obviously taken a break from training in the gym and this is frustrating me the most. I just can’t wait to get back into tip-top form and any tips would be happily received.
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    Sep 09, 2007 4:20 PM GMT
    hey bud,
    im a massage therapist and i work at a PT clinic so I see this stuff all the time. Talk to your doctor after the MRI but you should try physical therapy before you go under the knife. There are exercises and positions you can do that can push that disc into place. If you can, find a therapist that has their McKenzie certification. That protocol is very effective for spinal derangements such as yours. Good Luck!
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    Sep 09, 2007 5:34 PM GMT
    There are also a wide range of treatments for slipped and/or ruptured discs. I don't know what your National Health will pay for - but if you can manage a 2nd opinion at a high-end medical university, it would be to your advantage to get one.
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    Sep 09, 2007 5:52 PM GMT
    Thanks for the advice guys, to let you know a little more, I've been seeing a chyropractor for 4 weeks but to be honest it had very little effect. I do have private medical cover and the consultant I'm seeing is one of the best back surgeons in London. I'm just wanted some advice from others who have been under the knife, how long will it take to recover etc....
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    Sep 09, 2007 8:32 PM GMT
    I recently had a similar back ailment...and had to be either horizontal or standing as well to get relief...I couldnt sit at all. I stayed in bed for almost 2 weeks resting it...I didnt exercise for 2 months...but I avoided surgery. And being a medical sales rep by profession and seeing what happens in the Operating Room...I would do anything to avoid surgery. I would encourage you to listen to sigp339 and get some physical therapy...dont allow a surgeon to cut you without trying other treatments first...I did alot of cold/Ice compresses and rest and im back at it...im lifting again and riding my bike again with NO PAIN...

    Not all surgeons are like this, but many surgeons just want to cut you to make some money...it may not be the best course of treatment for you...Ive seen it many many times...so get a second opinion and try other treatments before you agree to get cut.

    Good Luck.
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    Sep 09, 2007 9:17 PM GMT
    Hey dude, i have had 6 slipped discs when i fractured L2 and L3 in my back, i have left siatica and know how you are feeling.

    I have tried many many things but the one thing that i have found that really helps is a combination of bayer back and body when the siatic nerve flares up, deep tissue massages and heat.

    Part of my siatica is actually muscle spasms that pinch the disc and the nerve together causing the pain in the lower back. i get alot of relief from the pain into the left leg and lower back when i do these things.
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    Sep 09, 2007 9:28 PM GMT
    In my opinion and from my experience, a chiropractor will do more harm than good....go see a physical therapist...not a "back cracker"...they are doctor wanna bee's who think they know more than they do and in your case...can hurt you seriously....stay away from them is my recommendation!!!
  • art_smass

    Posts: 960

    Sep 09, 2007 10:06 PM GMT
    I had the same thing. Someone dropped something on me, so it wasn't a fitness injury (I was trying to avoid getting my precious face squished and hurt my back instead). I also took two months off of working out, and that was the best thing I could have done. I went on a low dose of Vioxx (because it was still around) and eased back into the gym, concentrating a lot on the core muscles I needed to develop to alleviate the stress on my lower back. Now things are swell.

    One thing I do notice in the gym is that people who complain of sciatica often don't know what it is. In a vain attempt to deal with the referred leg pain, they constantly stretch the hamstring and lower back on the side that they are injured, exacerbating the problem.
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    Sep 09, 2007 10:29 PM GMT
    OK, splain that to me. I got sciatica a few years ago from doing very heavy deadlifts. And I was told to do stretching. (I quit doing the deadlifts and the pain went away after 3 weeks or so.)
  • art_smass

    Posts: 960

    Sep 09, 2007 10:43 PM GMT
    In layman's term, the injured disc is tugged on by the lower back muscles and the hamstings because of where they attach in the pelvic area. The swelling that causes the pain is the body's way of immobilizing the area. Since the referred pain is in the leg, people often confuse the problem with tight hamstrings. They stretch the hamstrings (and by association, the lower back) so that the rupture isn't allowed to remain immobile and heal.
  • fordnag

    Posts: 4

    Sep 09, 2007 11:48 PM GMT
    I suffered with a herniated L4/L5 disc back in 1981 which later ruptured and had to have surgery to remove the disc in 1987. I understand the pain you are in.

    Picture an automobile tire laid on its side and fill the center with gelatin. That is similar to what our spinal discs look like, a radial exterior fibrous part and a gelatinous central core. When a disc herniates, some of the fibers in the external core separate and allow the gelatinous core to exude between the fibers in the external core. This results in inflammation which causes the disc to swell where it has been damaged. As the radial nerves passing from our spinal cord pass close by these disc and through narrow spaces in the vertebrae called foramen, any swelling in these intervertebral spaces creates pressure on the nerve. Often times the result is the sciatica you feel. After all, the sciatic nerve is very large (the size of your thumb in some places) and irritation of a nerve that large is exquisitely painful.

    If the damage is not too great, the physician may recommend a course of a glucosteroid such as dexamethasone to remove the inflammation. Badly damaged discs such as those which rupture (where the internal gelatinous core exudes through the outside of the fibrous disc wall) usually have to be removed especially if they are affecting motor response (paralysis or atrophy for example). The body then fills the void with scar tissue. Lesser damaged discs which do not heal on their own can sometimes have a partial laminectomy performed where the disc is given what I call a "trim job" where the herniated fibrous part is removed and the remaining disc left in place. Most all of this surgery is done through an arthroscope in this day and age and requires a very minimal incision in the back. Sometimes, the pain can be managed with epidurals, but in my humble opinion, that only masks the problem.

    My surgery was successful for me. I have been lifting for 20 years since the surgery except I choose not to do deadlifts. I squat 530 pounds, leg press 1100 pounds and work the low back machine with over 300 pounds. However, everyone handles the surgery differently.

    I wish you much luck and keep us apprised of your progress!

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    Sep 12, 2007 12:13 PM GMT
    So I have my MRI this morning and the bulging disc is pretty obvious even to the untrained eye. I'm meeting with my surgeon on Friday but I'm guessing that if I can spot the problem its going to need surgery. Any feedback as always is welcome.

    The MRI result picture can be found here.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/alistair_london/1366040652/
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    Sep 13, 2007 9:03 PM GMT
    please 1) do good nback exercises. there isa poor correlation etween possitive mri and good reulsts with blocks or susrgery @) if after threemonths of woroking out you donot improve then have some oral steroids #0 if that doesnot work then try epidural steroids but there isa risk of failure or of infeciton
    4 last resort srugery do it only for foot f rop ie muscle weakness not for pain. surgery results are verypoor no matter who does it
    if you wishs more talk tome retired MD here
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    Sep 14, 2007 2:54 PM GMT
    Just another update for you guys. I saw the surgeon today and he recommened that we go ahead for the epidural steroid injection next Wednesday. He said that this should have a 75% chance of solving the problem but it will take two weeks to see the full effects. If after that time there is no improvement then we will look at the sugery options. I let you know how I get on.
  • MikemikeMike

    Posts: 6932

    Sep 14, 2007 5:58 PM GMT
    Good luck Alistair- keep us posted. make sure you do the correct rehab after!!



    Mike
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    Sep 30, 2007 5:32 PM GMT
    So, the epidural injection was 10 days ago and all is well. The procedure for the injection itself was painless and quick. In fact they put completely under with some pretty strong drugs so I felt nothing at all and felt wonderful when I woke up. I was kept in Hospital for a couple of hours afterwards and then was home by the early evening. The next day I felt a little twinge of pain but two days later I felt like a new man and, touch wood, all is good. I have started back at the gym but am taking it really, really, really slowly with small weights and good form. Fingers crossed the problem has been solved. I just want to say thanks to all you guys for your help and kind words. x
  • suprbilt

    Posts: 16

    Dec 25, 2007 6:27 PM GMT
    If your gym has a revers hyper extension bench (not a hyper extension bench .there,s a difference) you should try that .Louis Simmons of Westside Barbell Club in Columbus Ohio invented it.I use it and it definitely helped me and I have a ruptured disc too.This link shows how it is used.

    http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/henkin16.htm