Herniated L-5 S-1 disc - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 02-03-2010   #1
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 38
Herniated L-5 S-1 disc

Anyone out there dealt with this problem? It has ruined all of my winter fun and threatening to do the same with my spring/summer. I am refusing to have surgery until all other options are gone. Anyone had success rehabbing this injury and how did it effect your paddling? Please respond if you have dealt with this successfully. I have heard enough negative bs so if you can't help please stay off this thread.

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Old 02-04-2010   #2
 
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Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 420
I've got the exact same Herniated Disc, L-5 S-1, and also have some problems with my L-4. Mine was caused from the Army from jumping out of planes, 2 deployments, and humping a shit ton of weight. (82d Airborne; Infantry: 2001-2005)

Before getting out, they reccommeneded that I get surgery done on my back. I REFUSED, and didn't get the surgery. (I'm not suggesting for you to refuse the surgery, as I do not know the full extent of your injury.) But for me, here's my success experiences:

Since then, I have hiked 14'ers, 13'ers, and some other smaller foothills (~10-12,000ft) as well as the common day hikes, done some backpacking, skiing, continued to hit the gym, play sports, run, other strenuous activites, as well as KAYAK and Raft guiding. This is my 3rd season kayaking; I haven't run the crazy class V gnar/ huge drops and huge waterfalls yet, but I don't think it'll cause too much of a problem. Guess we'll eventually see.

AS for ME, It has not affected my paddling at all as of yet. Be sure to stretch your back some and do some range of motion exercises before getting in your boat. I am able to sit in my boat (Jackson Hero, and a 420) for however long the trip is, pop off a few rolls, portage where needed, do a bit of hiking, and get out at the take out w/o any problems. (I am 27 years old, maybe age plays a factor???)

REHAB: I did not go through a specific rehab specialist. I just did the rehab on my own w/o any guidance. Just continued to work out at the gym, started off slow and small weights for the back exercises. When I was getting my back "healthy" and stronger again, I'd only use, 15 Lbs- 100 Lbs. I personally don't think that there is any real, beneficial reason to exceed 60 Lbs max when rehabbing the back. You, and you alone will be the only one to determine your specific limitations on what you can and cannot do. (Lifting and Activities; Kayaking, etc.)

* After getting out of the Army, I had the VA Hospital check me out too. They told me that I should NOT be doing all the activities that I am still doing today. Screw 'em, I'm not gonna let my injuries prevent me from doing the things that I love, and continue to live an active lifestyle. *

*The Negative* Okay, I know you said that you don't really want to hear it. But here goes anyway, I just think it's important to know.:
- On rare, rare, random occasions, My back will flair up for no reason at all. Just wake up one morning, and I can't even sit up. It becomes almost paralyzing to the point where I can't even stand up or walk w/o having to hold myself up by bracing on furniture or something. Maybe you've already experienced days like this?

I don't take any medications for it nor for the pain. I am determined to not let this injury affect my active lifestyle, and I am sure that there are people out there with worse injuries that have chosen to 'Drive On' and continue to hit life full on.

***I am in no way, a specialist with dealing with this injury; just giving you my opinions, and sharing experiences of what has worked for me.

GOOD LUCK with the Recovery! Just stay motivated and determined!

- Alex
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Old 02-04-2010   #3
 
Park City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Oct 2006
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My boss had a severe herniation at this time last year. He couldn't walk without extreme pain for about three months. He did rehab with a specialty place and he is currently on a three day golf vacation and is back to actively and agressively skiing. I have an email into him to find out the details on the place and will share it when he replies.

Good Luck.
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Old 02-04-2010   #4
 
surrounded by mountains, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1981
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Big Tuna,
Here's what I can share with you. Myself and another kayaking friend have each had the same issue. We both ended up having surgery and are living regularly athletic lives. Like you, I wanted to avoid surgery if at all possible. It was not. I was unable to live a productive life in the misery I was experiencing. For over a year and a half I tried everything the experts could attempt. Prior to surgery my legs were consumed by an incredibly intense high-voltage, on fire, agony and inability to control my feet (foot flop). Vicaden was my main appetite. Surgery was instant relief.
The good news is that, although I no longer aspire to pursue rodeo status, I kayak class V without physical limitations. I even most enjoy places like the UTB and Embudo where you have to hike in and out with your boat. I also ski, mtn bike, and dirt bike as aggressive as ever. So does my friend who had the same operation.
So, what little advise I can offer is that to drink lots of water, stretch, and keep the core strong. Strong abs are what holds the back in line. Of course, kayaking is one of the best ways to keep the core strong.

However, if surgery is essential then don't be afraid of it. Yes, you will not be whole again, they remove some bone to make room for the nerves and it will probably always feels a tiny bit weak and vulnerable, but you should be able to return to normal life. Trust me, my friend and I are two guys that are now almost 50 years old and charging just as hard as we did in our 20s.

Best wishes,

Ken
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Old 02-04-2010   #5
 
Park City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1985
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This is the program he used. As an outsider, his success has been incredible. I'm sure their has to be something similar near you.

Egoscue
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Old 02-04-2010   #6
td
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
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Bummer about your back. I had a problem with a bulging disc last spring that was relieved with an acupuncture and rehab program- don't know how that would work for a full on herniated disc, but I'm doing some work for the acupuncturist and I'll ask her opinion today.
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Old 02-04-2010   #7
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N. Cascades, Washington
Join Date: Mar 2004
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I got nothin but negativity. Just get fixed before Grant gets old enough and I have start paddling with him!

How you ever gonna rehab if your always in too much pain to do anything?
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Old 02-04-2010   #8
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Thanks for all the quick replies. I was basically not able to do anything active for 2 1/2 months. I tried chiropractic, accupuncture, massage, pt, and medications. Nothing worked. Finally I got a steroid cortozone injection that has relieved the excruciating pain that shot all the way down my leg. Now the pain is centralized in my low back and glute. I am much more functional but wondering when I am going to be able to function pain free. I am 37 and my body feels much older. Thanks for all of the advice, keep it coming. I am looking for a rehab program to get that disc to go back in place. Everyone of the experts tell me time will heal it and to hold on, but I am not the kind of person to sit around and wait.
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Old 02-04-2010   #9
 
Stoner, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
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Tuna,

I had a ruptured disc and syptoms similar to Vanatta at 16 from a wrestling injury. The last thing they wanted to do was operate on a 16 year old. I tried everything including 3 cortizone shots before they finally relented. I was told no contact sports again but I lived life as I would have. I wrestled through college and still have very few problems with my back. I've had a couple bad flare ups over the years but it isn't persistent pain. The surgery was much more invasive 15+ years ago. I also had instant relief once I had surgery. I have a friend who is in his 40's and had surgery a year ago on a ruptured disc L4/L5 and was back to playing basketball (lightly) in six weeks. This next season may be a little slow for you, but I'd get the surgery done if it's to that point.
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Old 02-04-2010   #10
 
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I went though this starting at about age 22 with a destroyed L4. My solution ended up being the steroid/cortisone injections followed by a very hefty ibuprofen regimen--800 milligrams 3 times a day (yes, 2400 mill total per day). This was about 10 years ago now, but the doctor I hooked up with was Dr. Shih in Denver. At the time, he dealt with this injury a lot with the sports medicine team for the Broncos (this is a common football injury). The idea is to reduce the swelling enough to take the pressure off the sciatic (and other) nerves so the body can actually begin to heal itself. This, combined with months of physical therapy, got me back to where I can usually touch my toes, and for the most part I feel like I can do what I want, although I definitely am not as flexible as I used to be.

One thing I can definitely tell you is NOT to use chiropractic for this type of injury--I was going to a chiropractor at first and finally he was honest enough to tell me that he was making me much worse (I had always been a fan of chiropractic, but there are some injuries that rehab better with PT).

Now I am 33 though and have been snowboarding and kayaking for some time now comfortably.

Another tip--pick up this thing called the Sacro-Wedgie. It is cheap and offers immediate pain relief--I still use mine when my back acts up once or twice a year.

I understand your excruciating pain though--I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy!




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Originally Posted by Big Tuna View Post
Thanks for all the quick replies. I was basically not able to do anything active for 2 1/2 months. I tried chiropractic, accupuncture, massage, pt, and medications. Nothing worked. Finally I got a steroid cortozone injection that has relieved the excruciating pain that shot all the way down my leg. Now the pain is centralized in my low back and glute. I am much more functional but wondering when I am going to be able to function pain free. I am 37 and my body feels much older. Thanks for all of the advice, keep it coming. I am looking for a rehab program to get that disc to go back in place. Everyone of the experts tell me time will heal it and to hold on, but I am not the kind of person to sit around and wait.
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