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  • Injured and discouraged

    Hey friends,

    I've been fighting with a low back injury for the last few years and find myself wondering if I'm ever going to have a pain-free day again. I have a couple of herniated discs and what are apparently significant enough degenerative changes that the docs have slapped me with the 'degenerative disc disease' label. Not that it's actually any kind of disease...

    I've heard the best thing to do is to just keep exercising and try to be active. I've been stuck in the cycle of knowing I need to try and strengthen my back, but doing so makes the pain worse, so I stop after a while and get weaker. Since going primal six months ago, I've not noticed any decrease in pain (was hoping maybe some of the inflammation would get noticeably better from kicking grains but it hasn't). I have had more energy, so I've been more active than the last few years. I started playing hockey a couple of months ago and love it, but I've had numbness down my left leg that has been steadily getting worse since I started playing. This makes me think one of the discs is active again and it isn't just arthritic.

    I've been in PT, I've been doing all the exercises, I've been getting the steroid shots that don't help any longer (they did right after the injury occurred), it just seems like no matter what I do it keeps getting worse. I can't help but feel like I'm heading for a wheelchair.

    I'm only 23. I'm otherwise in good health. I'm so so bummed and down about it.

    Has anyone else had any success in rehabbing a lumbar injury or an arthritic low back? I could use any and all suggestions.

  • #2
    Have you seen a chiropractor? I have a family full of them, and I've seen them work wonders.
    You don't have to be sick to get better.
    Female, 31 years old, 5'8"
    Primal start: 1/2/2012
    My Primal Journal
    Living, loving and learning.

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    • #3
      I am weary of seeing a chiro, though I don't have firsthand experience with one. The first doc that treated me for this injury was a DO, he insisted on attempting several manipulations over a couple of occasions before he'd even agree to order any imaging (I was 17 at the time, didn't know better than to trust the doctor's word). The manipulations felt horrible, I always assumed going to see a chiropractor would be similar. I had a friend who ended up with chiropractic stroke last year, manipulations scare me. Obviously this is lumbar, not cervical spine, but still.

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      • #4
        Hey pika,

        BACKGROUND: Back in 2008 I injured my back during some military training. I did not get any type of rehab or chiro work but did eventually get an MRI to fully diagnose what was wrong. I had two bulging disks and a pinched nerve. Needless to say I was crippled for a few months.

        REHAB: I agree with what you've been doing. Like I said, I received no type of rehab. I focused on slowly building back my core strength and eventually the pain went away. Front bridges, oblique exercises, light deadlifts, kettlebell swings, etc. all contributed to my recovery. I eventually healed enough to deploy to a rugged part of Afghanistan and complete some other rigorous military schools. I haven't had any problems since then.

        I don't know if what I dealt with is similar to what you're dealing with but I think that you can rehab yourself to a point with smart exercising.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by paleo pika View Post
          I am weary of seeing a chiro, though I don't have firsthand experience with one. The first doc that treated me for this injury was a DO, he insisted on attempting several manipulations over a couple of occasions before he'd even agree to order any imaging (I was 17 at the time, didn't know better than to trust the doctor's word). The manipulations felt horrible, I always assumed going to see a chiropractor would be similar. I had a friend who ended up with chiropractic stroke last year, manipulations scare me. Obviously this is lumbar, not cervical spine, but still.
          See if you can find an activator chiropractor. I'm not a huge fan of manual manipulation either. I grew up with the activator- a tool that uses speed instead of force to move the bones. MUCH more gentle. You can try to find one in your area HERE.
          You don't have to be sick to get better.
          Female, 31 years old, 5'8"
          Primal start: 1/2/2012
          My Primal Journal
          Living, loving and learning.

          Comment


          • #6
            So I should just work through the pain/numbness then? I guess I don't know when it's an indication that I need to take a break and when I just need to ignore it. With the recent numbness that's new, I'm just worried I'm making things worse.

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            • #7
              its hard to find a good one, i don't have a buldged disc, but my cousin does and i've had back pain, a chiro (the first one wasn't good, not bad...but the 2nd and current one, he is awesome and can tell whats wrong with my back without an xray, down to the vertibrie) and it helps relieve his worst pain...and he fixed mine (i have some weird tight muscles pulling at my spine)

              i wouldn't be scared of the chiro, just fine a good one (i know it maybe hard) but i'll take the one i see over any doctor and pill pusher
              http://myquest4happiness.blogspot.com/
              http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread48307.html (journal)

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Insane Grok View Post
                its hard to find a good one, i don't have a buldged disc, but my cousin does and i've had back pain, a chiro (the first one wasn't good, not bad...but the 2nd and current one, he is awesome and can tell whats wrong with my back without an xray, down to the vertibrie) and it helps relieve his worst pain...and he fixed mine (i have some weird tight muscles pulling at my spine)

                i wouldn't be scared of the chiro, just fine a good one (i know it maybe hard) but i'll take the one i see over any doctor and pill pusher
                I might be a little confused about what a chiropractor does that a physical therapist doesn't. My PT seems similarly able to tell exactly what joint/muscle/tendon/etc. is causing pain...I just haven't seen any decrease in pain from the prescribed strengthening/stretching exercises.

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                • #9
                  I had similar issues with my neck, and when hearing those words, gosh, DDD it was like a nightmare.. SO so many docs, incredible.

                  I was in so so so much pain, I could pass out. It last for three years and would wake up everyday in pain, eventually go depressed cause you wonder if you will ever stop being in pain. So I know how you feel.

                  Exactly how significant are the changes?

                  The pain does subside, just takes awhile. I'd be surprised if they haven't put you on any anti-depressants.

                  These kinds of injury etc, wear you out emotionally and physically as well.

                  In my own case, I actually went mad. every thing I did, nothing worked, nothing. Eventually every doc just started giving me happy pills instead of really trying to figure out what the issue was. 9months later, finally get blood work done to find underlying issues, Low Vit D and Hypothyroidism. Basically I went into adrenal shutdown as well, my T was at 280 and for a guy that should be 800. IN other words injuries like this can also contribute, aggravate etc other underlying conditions. So my recommendation is to try and get full blood work from an internist done, just to make sure everything else is kosher. I know it's not the primary, but just be safe.

                  Personally, I hate chiros with a passion, no offense to any on here but my injury was made tenfold worse by a chiro. It just don't make sense to me, I know people swear by it, but I think it's a joke. There I said it.

                  PT never really helped me either because the underlying conditions where not addressed.

                  As far as exercise, I tried everything and could barely do pushups on my knees. I Lost all strength. Before this I was able to do about 20pullups in one go and it was nothing. I tried and tried to exercise for a long time and I just couldn't go a week of it. I started to strength train (this is not meant as advice) and have since regained all my strength and then some!


                  You also have to consider your condition in two phases. Acute and chronic. The chronic is the one you have to worry about. It will get better you just have to be patient and treat yourself well.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by driftwood View Post
                    I had similar issues with my neck, and when hearing those words, gosh, DDD it was like a nightmare.. SO so many docs, incredible.
                    Exactly how significant are the changes?

                    The pain does subside, just takes awhile. I'd be surprised if they haven't put you on any anti-depressants.

                    You also have to consider your condition in two phases. Acute and chronic. The chronic is the one you have to worry about. It will get better you just have to be patient and treat yourself well.
                    L3-4 and L4-5 herniation, I'm well past the acute phase, that was several years ago. Recent imaging shows the discs have begun to shrink back and dehydrate, as they do. The nerve roots also are visibly less constricted on the MRI. The most recent MRI was a few months ago, before I started to get the tingles again (which I had immediately after the injury but on the opposite side compared to now), so I'm wondering if something's active again. I have a small annular tear and a bit of stenosis. Based on the nature of the pain (worse when twisting, bending/arching back) my PT and doc were thinking facet issues, they did six facet injections at once but they didn't help. They've done the typical epidural steroid injections at L4-5 and the most recent was an injection straight into the disc which also did not help at all.

                    I wouldn't take anti-depressants if they paid me. I've been on and off them most of my life and they make me feel like complete shit. Yeah, I'm super depressed about being in constant pain, but there's no way I'll ever take another SSRI.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by paleo pika View Post
                      I'm only 23. I'm otherwise in good health. I'm so so bummed and down about it.

                      Has anyone else had any success in rehabbing a lumbar injury or an arthritic low back? I could use any and all suggestions.
                      My friend has had non-surgical spinal decompression done, which has helped him. Along with:

                      Joint Health | Glucosamine | Chondroitin Sulfate | MSM | DMSO | Sock-Doc

                      and

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                      • #12
                        I am currently dealing with herniated discs at L4/L5(mild) and L5/S1(moderate), one has a moderate tear and very severe stenosis, as the result of getting rear-ended 2 months ago. I have a great team of practitioners that includes my chiro, acupuncturists and a massage therapist. My chiro runs the show but my acupuncturists are why I have very little pain, as long as I don't overdue things. To find a gentle chiro, look for one that does cranial sacral work. S/he will understand the power of gentle movements.

                        Here are some things I've learned:
                        • Some pain is actually good b/c that means your nerves are working. If you just have numbness for a sustained period, go to the emergency room immediately.
                        • If you start losing control of your bladder or bowels, go to the emergency room.
                        • Again, acupuncture is THE reason I am able to function. I actually attend Chinese medicine school right now and am still impressed with the pain relief. I've had 1 motrin the whole time.
                        • Acupuncture should not hurt, though it might pinch a tad on insertion. If it does, it means your body is really tired, deficient in CM terminology, and your acupuncturist should use very few needles (like 3 or 4) and employ other modalities, like herbs, tuning forks, and moxa. The tuning forks are amazing!
                        • You should be able to stand on your toes for at least a minute, as well as raise your toes off the ground and balance on your heels for several seconds, if not supported by a wall.
                        • Extending your back is wonderful. Put pillows on your dining table and lay on it with your hips hanging off. I can stop the tingling instantly with this.
                        • I started getting better when I stopped lifting anything. I bought a rolling bag for school, ate out a lot and asked people to help me.

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                        • #13
                          i'm 32 now and have been dealing with lower back pain since i was 26. i had/have several bulging/herniated discs that i pretty much had no success in treating with traditional methods. i am in really good shape to begin with, so the 6 months of PT i went to pretty much did nothing. the mckenzie exercises were just about worthless as well.

                          i basically found success with improving my posture, switching to a standing workstation at work (this has helped the most) and also with really working on my flexibility. in particular hamstring, glutes and hip flexor tightness all add to lower back issues) aside from those things, i would recommend strengthening your core and back muscles as much as possible. and not by doing and sort of sit-up/crunch motion. planks, side planks and bird-dogs are great for this

                          good luck

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                          • #14
                            Am sorry you are going through this. I don't blame you for not doing the anti-depressants, I didn't either but looking back it sure could have helped. In my case I was stuck in pain/spasm/pain cycle.
                            And I think that is the main reason to be on them is that your body gets used to it and you start to expect perceive pain even more.

                            This a great website/forum - Back Pain, Back Surgery, and Pain Problem Message Boards

                            There is a section on lower back there. Tons of great helpful people that have the same thing.

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                            • #15
                              Don't go to an MD. I had horrid back pain. I went to a chiro who also did ART (massage) and PT. In about 4 months, I was pain free. It took massage to release lesions, adjustments to realign and PT to rebuild the muscle. (Stretching and strength). For me, it was about building core strength, shoulder strength, better posture, and increased flexibility in my hips.

                              I agree its hard to find a good chiro. Find one that specializes in athletes and has more in their toolkit than adjustments.

                              FWIW, my horse gets adjusted. It makes a big difference in her movement. Horses don't benefit from placebos.

                              http://maggiesfeast.wordpress.com/
                              Check out my blog. Hope to share lots of great recipes and ideas!

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