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spinal injuries

RobLeslieRobLeslie Posts: 33
Has anyone out there any feedback they can offer on their personal experience of tackling a prolapsed disc? I'd be interested in feedback on good and bad experiences please, because I'm struggling to feel progress from extruciating pains in fifth week of what has been diagnosed as a small bulge between L4 & L5.


  • bigal.bigal. Posts: 479
    You have my sympathies. I suffered from the same kind of pain caused by too many years on Moto-x bikes. Ended up getting surgery to trim back the bulging disc's. It was agnonizing for approx a year then after surgery I was pretty much back to normal after 3-4 months but I was only 23 at the time and my powers of recovery were pretty good.

    I am not recommending surgery by the way as this was last resort. Have you seen a Spinal expert as I wouldnt trust a local doc with a back problem. I am a fan of Osteopathy if you can find the right one but it can be expensive.

    How much gentle stretching do you do.?? It might help although you may find it too painful.
  • pipsqueakpipsqueak Posts: 72
    Hello, Ive now had two operations on L5 S1 which i think is the disc below the one your having problems with. Stretching for me has been the key to keeping me on the bike, and once you have a back problem it will not go away. Im not saying that the pain wont go away, or your mobility will not return, but in order to keep as active as you want, you need to start on a regime on specific stretching / strengthening and flexibilty. I do 1hours worth of stretching / core muscle work 5 times a week which is a pretty big chunk of my free time, but i have learnt the hard way of not doing anything about a recurring back problem. A great cheap book is " Treat your own back" by someone called Mckenzie ( cant remember his first name) I bought this on recommendation, from Amazon for about a fiver and its fantastic. Simple, clear diagrammes etc etc.
    Disc problems are "mendable" to some degree, but if you accept that you have a back problem, thinking about posture, doing regular stretching etc etc becomes part of your everyday life. Ive had surgery and still able to enter events and do rides 4 hours, so all is not doom and gloom !!!!!!

    Good luck
  • poucherpoucher Posts: 102
    Hi Rob,

    You have my sympathy as well, I know only too well where you are at.
    I had a bulging disc at L4 L5 trimmed back in 2004.
    I'd had a bout of sciatica down the back of my left leg a couple of years prior to that, but it seemed to sort itself out, I had also ridden dirt bikes for years and this was probably the cause of the damage.
    When it came back in 2004 I had chronic sciatica for about 4 months and this was the worst pain I have ever experienced, relentless 24/7 and it got to the stage where I couldn't even walk for about 30 yards, My back was twisted and locked to the left due to the muscles being in permenant spasm.
    I'd tried everything, local GP's tend to only give you painkillers, I tried osteopaths, chiropractors and even acupuncture, but the disc was so badly prolapsed it was never going to go back in.
    I only made any progress when my local GP insisted I was refered for an MRI scan ( have you had one yet? ) and it was shown to be so severe it was treated as a priority case.
    So I eventually had surgery, what they call a "Micro-discectomy" to cut the bulging disc away, I only have about a 2" scar down my back, apparantly its more evasive internally than it looks.
    As soon as I woke from the anasthetic I knew the pain had gone, it was literally like flicking a switch off!
    Then the physio started, as the guys have already said, muscle excercises and stretching to build up your core strength, and ( touch wood!! ) its been pretty good since.

    I don't mean to put the fear of God into you, but that's what happened to me, mine was probably at a worse stage than yours, so all I can say is if the osteopath and excercise doesn't work for you, pester your GP to get you an MRI scan done and then you can make a judgement on how severe it is, there really is no need to suffer for months and months with it.
    Good luck, hope you sort it out soon.


    Poucher :wink:
  • peanutpeanut Posts: 1,373
    Hi Rob
    yes there are other suffers out here.
    I'm afraid you will not get much help from your Doctor if my experience is anything to go by.
    Unless you are suffering from bowel or bladder disfunction the medical profession tend to treat all back suffers the same. If you can walk in and walk out again there is nothing much wrong that a little exercise and physio won't improve with time.

    If you're disk is impinging on your spinal cord you're back is likely to go into spasm. Its excruitiatingly painful and it used to make me scream in pain.

    With me it lasted about 8 weeks before I could stand up and go a day without a spasm.

    Its the bodies way of protecting itself .

    You are probably finding ways of moving without bringing on a spasm .You will get very good at that I am still learning how to avoid them 3 years on.

    It was 3 months before I could shuffle about slowly and from about 8 weeks I used a zimmer frame to help get mobility back.

    I was unlucky as I had no one to look after me so I had to sell my car to pay for the nursing care.There are organisations that help in the imitial weeks for free if you know where to look.
    Contact your local Physio and ask for advice . You can ask your Dr for a referral. There are lots of medical aids you can get that will help.

    I set up a bed in the kitchen and lived in there .I set up everything I needed on a large kitchen table with a grabber to reach everything. A nice gel cushion helped a lot but I still got some bedsores .

    I had a neighbour screw some bolts into the ceilings and attach dog leads so I could help myself up to a standing or sitting position or turn over in bed . That was a tremendous help.

    Gradually it will get better . Make sure you use a cold gel pack frequently to reduce the inflamation and also volterol .You might enquire later about epidurals which can help some sufferers.

    You should insist on an MRI scan and if the Dr refuses ask for a second opinion or better still a refferal to see an Orthopedic consultant
    Try not to worry too much the body has incredable recuprative powers if given a chance. Things should improve if you give it a another month or so.

    Try to do some exercises daily so your muscles don't waste away too much and watch the weight . The less you put on the easier it will be on your back.

    Remember most of us have disk problems but are completly unaware of it . I had no disk left between L5 & S1 but I tore some ligaments that support the sacral/ lumbar region which allowed the L5 to move relative to S1 and pinch my spinal cord. I
    3 years on I can walk (slowly) and have to watch every stem so I do not jar my spine but I can still work and do not suffer too much pain most days .but I take each day as it comes.
    good luck

    oh and one thing I forgot to say I cannot walk easily but I find I can cycle for hours without any discomfort because the bike frame braces my back !
  • T.C.T.C. Posts: 495
    Ihave posted before ( see lay off ) i did my first 3 hour ride today since october and it went well , a specialist spinal physio is sure that my glutes and stomach are weak , therefore i have to work on my core body , things have improved dramatically i spend approx 20 mins a day doing stretching and bum excersise for my glutes , i was off the bike for 6 weeks end of 07, things are looking up .,
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,601
    Had my C4, C5, & C6 fused about 15 years ago. Haven't had any problems of note
    since then. Before the operation it felt like I had a knife stuck in my armpit. After the op I
    felt good as new. I do notice a slight reduction in my ability to turn my head from side to side but I'm still out there and pain free. Well, at 60, pain free is relative. You have my
    sympathies as I know the kind of pain these things can cause. Good luck.

    Dennis Noward
  • RobLeslieRobLeslie Posts: 33
    Thank you to everyone for sharing your kind feedback. I had my first day feeling confident that the leg pains weren't less enough to try without painkillers. But after osteo on the same day, had a relapse to need at least a Codeine charge-up. The osteo warned of a relapse. But hope that was a first sign of being on the mend. I'm also going to try being dry-needled (acupuncture?) next on Saturday. Has anyone expierinced homeopathy for slipped disc?
  • ut_och_cyklaut_och_cykla Posts: 1,594
    Acupuncture can be very useful for pain indiced by nerve inflammation. Won't cure problem but make life more bareable.
  • andy_wrxandy_wrx Posts: 3,396
    It depends on what you've done to your back, how bad it is.

    Believe me, I know how much it can hurt, how much it can affect your moblity, how it can affect your self-esteem.

    I've ended-up with an artificial implant disc in L5-S1.
    Had it 20months now and still getting better all the time but still need to do lots of stretching and core-stability work, be very aware of posture.

    Pilates seems to make quite a difference.

    GP's seem to give you NSAID anti-inflam's usually Diclofenac and a sicknote for a few weeks, but that's about it.

    To be fair, whilst this seems like it's the GP not doing anything but fobbing-off with pills, it might well settle down given time.

    Depending what tour GP will refer you to, or whether you have private health insurance at work, you could try physio, osteopath, chiropractor, acupuncturist, etc.

    It will be acute for quite a while, much longer that you want it to be
    - you are a fit, athletic cyclist, used to exercising and being active : waiting for it to heal, to settle down, might take several months
    - (assuming you're like me), this will be very difficult for you to cope with, but no way round it : try to do things at the speed you want to will just re-irritate it, re-inflame it, send it back acute and you'll get very depressed and miserable.

    When it's settled down a bit and become chronic, if given enough time it may well settle down further - or you may adapt yourself to it and develope strategies which allow you to do what you want to do despite it.

    What they'll not want to do is operate in any hurry - either microdiscectomies as others have had, or disc fusions or replacements : these are pretty radical non-reversible treatments
    - you can stop taking the pills, stop seeing the physio, but you can't undo one of these op's

    For me it took 18 months and quite a few tests like MRI's, big needle in back, spinal cortisone injections, etc before they decided the disc really was knackered and I could have it replaced.

    It was immediately an improvement in what I could do, but wasn't 'right' and I wasn't back to 'normal' i.e. before I bust the disc, but approaching two years later it's still getting better.
    I can do sportives and TT's, ran a half marathon earlier this year, but things like sitting on a long-haul airliner will require me dosing-up on ibuprofen...
  • V-twinV-twin Posts: 49
    As someone who is just ending their third month of rehab since having a prolapsed disc removed I found myself nodding (sagely?) at some of the entries above - brave men all!

    I had the intense sciatic pain down my left calf for around two months before I saw an orthopedic surgeon who recommended an MRI scan based on my symptoms. Prolapsed disc diagnosed three days before my trip to New Zealand.

    I did the trip including a couple of 13mile treks - the back was brilliant on walks and treks (no, the hiking sort) and pretty cr*p in airline seats -

    Post operation: no pain in leg but settlement aches and discomfort in left and right SI joints. I got back on the turbotrainer after 9 weeks; starting at 10 mins spinning a low gear. I'm up to 30 minutes now and it's great to be back (sorry!). Oh, yes. Physio exercises on core muscle groups daily but no painkillers necessary.

    One thing I did discover is that for some prolapses it is possible to 'physio' your way out of it and this has the advantage of not running the risks of surgery nor of unwanted side-effects post op. But equally a nasty jolt - pulling suitcases off an airport carousel for instance - could cause relapse I guess.

    Either way the very best of luck and as you can see from the posts; this is not new territory...!


    mox senex dormit
  • bigal.
    hello bigal, and rest of you back sufferers sorry to hear of injurys, I too just hadL5S1,microdisectomy at romford queens hospital on 16th march 2008 then sent home 4days later but after 2 days at home started to go numb down right side when walking around very scarey lost all feeling in butt and front regions could not pee either, so after 2 more MRI scans they found another fragment of disc that was probly causing the numbness,have 2nd op 25 th march 2008, so at monment im back at home 12 days post op, some of the numbness is going away,but recovery i suppose will be slow, I was very active before (moto x since 13 yr old as lived by big disused sand works,but in later years got into mountain biking) and its hard to adjust mind that its going to be a lot different from now on. I do feel for all you out there with these problems.simon
  • RobLeslieRobLeslie Posts: 33
    I can report feeling some recovery at last after 8 weeks of a hernia double (8mm and 12mm) between L4 & L5, at a time when I'm well into applying the following treatments:

    - homeopathy Ruta Grav and Rhus Tox at 30C-strength.
    - 4 swimming pool exercises according to a useful Collins gem book called 5-minute Back relief (£4.99). I read that US Pro Tom Danielson is applying this to his own hernia.
    - the Bowen (NST) technique ( by a local osteopath

    Unlike Tom, I'm not using the modern dry needling adaptation of traditional acupuncture after a first attempt because it didn't work for me. In fact, it made me suffer horribly even more.

    Encouraged by homeopathy, I'm next to apply the two herbal tinctures Knotgrass and Devil's Claw ( If anyone wants to hear about the impact felt of all this, get in touch.
  • thetrotterthetrotter Posts: 258
    Surgery is very much a last resort for any back injury because it can create more problems than it solves and many back problems sort themselves out with strengthening exercises and the passage of time. In my case I went for six months with sciatica which was so bad that I was unable to speak for ten minutes after sitting down/standing up and bagan to experience a loss of strength in my legs. In the end I had part of the disc removed. Unlike some other's experience it took many, many months for the pain to subside completely and even now 20 years later I cannot stand for long periods of time, lift heavy loads or run without experiencing discomfort. However, I have been riding my bike on a regular basis for the last eight years, have been racing occasionally for about the last five and last year managed a full season (including a 50). You just have to try different remedies and be patient. Some great cyclists (Fondriest, Barry Hoban and Rudi Altig) have had back operations and come back to compete at the highest level.
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