paddling with / post Bulging disc - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 02-26-2014   #1
swimming
 
behind your mom, Colorado
Join Date: May 2012
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paddling with / post Bulging disc

I had an MRI last night and it shows a bulging disc at L5/S1. My only symptoms have been a dull ache down my left leg that is much worse after trying to cycle or after sitting for a long time. I don't have a lot of classic symptoms (pain while sitting, burning, shooting, back pain) so it leads me to believe it isn't too severe. Hopefully I hear back from my doc tomorrow. I'm only 29 and I'm hopeful that PT will sort this out in the next 6-8 weeks. I have a friend who is much older who had worse symptoms who was able to PT himself to 100% within 2 months. I got the injury doing crossfit last summer and have pretty much ignored it since then because it hasn't been very painful, more of an annoyance. It has really affected my mountain biking though.

For anyone who has had similar issues what did you do to try to prevent aggravating it while boating? I was planning a trip to the PNW this spring to run some falls that I probably won't do now. Please no horror stories… trying to stay positive.

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Old 02-26-2014   #2
 
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
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I had a back injury in late 2012. Compressed a disk, and it kicked my ass. I'd recommend PT ASAP. I'm still not back to normal pre-injury, but I can paddle and snowboard. Main thing is changing the way you move your body in all aspects of life to protect your back.

As for what I did paddling to not aggrivate it... much of it is movement and posture awareness. Its really easy to curve your back and bend down to pick up a 50+ lb creekboat without thinking. I now do more of the lift with the legs and conciously engage abs to protect my back with all of these types of moves (unloading and loading boats, portaging etc). Other big deal for me was not getting sloppy when paddling and slouching and loosening abs, which works your lower back too hard. Sitting down in the kayak for entended periods hurt my back, so I took every chance I could to get out and scout (whether I needed to or not to run the rapid) so that I could stretch my back and get out of the back compression position while sitting.

I'd take a back injury very seriously as it relates to kayaking. Something that seems minor now could fester for years and get progressively worse. Keeping your core strong and really engaging your abs purposefully with every move you make is the best back injury prevention in my opinion. That... and not doing movements that will put your back at risk.

After having my back injury and going to PT, and am now hyperaware of what can put your back at risk, and I am continually blown away by the shit people do at gyms working out that looks like a back injury waiting to happen. You might also want to change your workout habits to take out any types of exercise that put heavy loads on your back while it is bent or twisted.

My PT guy basically told me that 90% of the stuff I was doing for back exercise and stretching was wrong and putting too much strain on my back... and he had data and scientific papers to support it. He noted that many of the people he sees with wrecked backs come from the gym, or are personal trainers who go too hard on their backs.
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Old 02-26-2014   #3
 
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ChroniclesofGnarnia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 4/20
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PT for the rest of your life, staying fit and keeping your core strong is huge... Been suffering for 10 years off and on. My buddy is a surgeon at ucla says to avoid surgery at all costs if PT can get ya feeling good again and then like i said above keep fit and your core strong. If you get surgery you will be getting it again in 5-10years.
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Old 02-26-2014   #4
swimming
 
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Been doing pt for 2 months, always focused on si joint though. doing core stuff now
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Old 02-26-2014   #5
 
Avon, Colorado
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I ruptured a disk a few years ago last few days of skiing. Shooting psciatic pain down the leg and went really bad (lying on floor screaming) after some dry needling. Now it is part of my life. Every morning i wake up to do core exercises for 30 minutes (and pushup/pull ups).

I also am aware of every bending / twisting motion i make. Core is engaged all the time.

I have had 2 epidural steroid injections and with the daily routine i can get by doing what i love (biking, skiing, kayak/raft/ running). MTB season is by far the worst. after climbing for 30 minutes i need to get outta the saddle continuously (at least my upper body is strong !!). On a road bike i have no pain. It is due to the small undulations inherent in climbing on a MTB.

You will be fine....but need to be diligent, as to avoid surgery.
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Old 02-26-2014   #6
swimming
 
behind your mom, Colorado
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I'm going to do everything I can to avoid surgery, from what I can tell I don't have a herniation as the bulge in the photo looks to still have a good amount of cartilage that hasn't "opened" into the nerve space. I'd post a photo here but the images won't load on a mac. I hear the official word tomorrow and I'll post results.
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Old 02-26-2014   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ENDOMADNESS View Post
I ruptured a disk a few years ago last few days of skiing. Shooting psciatic pain down the leg and went really bad (lying on floor screaming) after some dry needling. Now it is part of my life. Every morning i wake up to do core exercises for 30 minutes (and pushup/pull ups).

I also am aware of every bending / twisting motion i make. Core is engaged all the time.

I have had 2 epidural steroid injections and with the daily routine i can get by doing what i love (biking, skiing, kayak/raft/ running). MTB season is by far the worst. after climbing for 30 minutes i need to get outta the saddle continuously (at least my upper body is strong !!). On a road bike i have no pain. It is due to the small undulations inherent in climbing on a MTB.

You will be fine....but need to be diligent, as to avoid surgery.
talk to me about the injections? Up until the MRI my doc was ready to inject my SI because I'm pain free until I climb/mtb/etc. then there's a lot of soreness. I've been doing PT once a week for 2 months for it. After the MRI I'm convinced it's actually nerve pain from my L5/S1. I haven't read a lot of positive results from the injections thus far.
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Old 02-26-2014   #8
td
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
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Had a bulging disc a few years ago and had great results with acupuncture. I've tried acupuncture for other injuries since with mixed results (good for carpal tunnel, mixed for rotator cuff inflammation, didn't do much for knee and hip injuries), but my back has been 100% for a couple years now- I go back once in a while if I feel things start to get tight, but its been over a year since I've needed treatment. PT worked great for the shoulder and hip injuries, would definitely recommend that as well.
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Old 02-26-2014   #9
swimming
 
behind your mom, Colorado
Join Date: May 2012
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any PT recommendations for the front range are welcome also. Going to boulder center for sports medicine now but I feel like my PT isn't doing much. Might shop around and get a 2nd or 3rd opinion on treatment soon.
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Old 02-26-2014   #10
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
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My comment after having had ~15 years or so of off and on back pain that finally ended up in a ruptured disc at L5/S1 is keep your core (abs & back) strong. Exercise, excercise, exercise. Even when it feels fine. I still have troubles with that one. I think that if I'd been more diligent in exercising all along, I wouldn't have ended up with a ruptured disc followed by surgery.

I never had what I'd call massive shooting pain. At worst I'd feel my back grab and all strength disappear with a surge of pain. With that it'd be dull pain for a longer period of time. I'd also get
sciatica pain that I'd describe as if someone had punched me in the butt. It eventually gave out on the Royal Gorge and resulted in me not being able to lift my boat out of the water at the end. The following week I couldn't lift my right heel off the ground. The kicker was when I lost sensation in my right toes and the MRI turned up a photo showing half my canal was filled with disc material at L5/S1. PT and drugs hadn't done anything to help so it was off to the surgeon.

While I still think surgery was a success, unless I keep up on exercising by core at least 3-4 times a week (and kayaking sadly does *not* count), I have some amount of low grade pain. That said, the only sport I haven't been able to get back to is road biking, but I think a few bike geometry fixes could help that. But I'd call ~92 days of paddling class III/IV+ whitewater 1.5 years later as not too bad. Sadly my playboating ability sucks even more than it did before!

PT wise, if in Fort Collins, I've had good luck with Performance Physical Therapy for both shoulder and back issues.

Regardless good luck and take care of it. The other thing I'll throw out that I found very true post surgery and I think could apply for you too. Sitting and laying down is bad for your back. Walk as much as you can each day. They wanted me walking 4 miles/day 4 weeks after surgery. My back would feel so much better after walking a mile or so vs before. This is still true today. If I feel my back getting sore at work, I'll take a break when I can and walk for 15-20 minutes.

And one last parting word of wisdom. If you do get nerve loss (lack of sensation, ability to move in a given direction) visit a doctor to get looked at. My mother put this off too long (nearly half a year) and again while surgery was successful, did end up with permanent nerve damage in one leg.

I'll shut up now.
John
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