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  • Advice for newbie re L5 S1 disc injury

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    Old 04-18-2001, 06:01 PM   #1
    Gattaca
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    Advice for newbie re L5 S1 disc injury

    Hello there, first time on the board so hey everyone. I would like to ask some advice please about my current back injury..here's the history;
    In 1995 I fell with a bar weighing 200lbs or so doing squat exercises for my legs, which at the time didn't cause any problems in my back, although I noticed my right leg would sometimes feel weak.
    In 1998 I began running again and this is when the problem started, after a few months of regular running training the problems I have now came to the fore.
    After a couple of years of numerous physios and 3 orthopaedic surgeons I had a second MRI done on my lower back in February this year. This showed up a bulged disc at L5 S1.
    My current symptons are a dull ache in the right side of my lower back and a buzzing down the right side of my butt and hamstring and finally down the outside of my shin where it is usually worse. This leg doesn't move naturally when I walk also. This last week I have started to get some of this feeling in my left shin. Exercise wise I have found walking to be the least aggravating though I get some sciatica from it. After that cycling and any other cardio causes problems, the more hip movement ie as in cycling the worse things are. Weightlifting was OK until recently when my right leg got alot worse and my knee was hurt because of this. With weights the more glute/hamstring involvement the more weakness is in my right leg, my surgeon said this is consistent with the sciatic nerve impinged and the hip movement factor is due to stretching the nerve.
    The MRI report reads "There are degenerative changes at L5/S1 with a degree of disc dehydration and disc space narrowing.
    There is a minimal central disc protrusion at L5/S1 but no evidence of neural compression.High signal indicates a degenerate fissure."
    The surgeon stated surgery was unlikely and a last resort and said these injuries settle over time and become less severe. He said he was happy for me to see PTs or osteopaths and I was referred to the in-hospital physios.
    These haven't been of much help so I am now going to see a private PT who he holds in high regard.
    OK long story I know thanks for bearing with me lol, just thought I'd give all the details..now I wondered what any of your experiences and long term prognosis has been. My doc and the PT say that near 100% recovery will be possible eventually, so I was curious as to what level of activity you were able to get back to.
    My main exercise previously was weight-lifting and light cardio, steppers etc. I realise running will not be a good idea again as will not be heavy weight bearing.

    Thanks for your time and help

    Gattaca.

     
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    Old 04-19-2001, 06:04 AM   #2
    runner
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    Re: Advice for newbie re L5 S1 disc injury

    Hope I can help! I have experienced low back problems since I was 16. I am 39 now and ran my first marathon last fall. I had surgery in December for a bone tumor and am almost 100% recovered. I am lifting and running again and am better than I was before. A lot of times what happens is that one weak muscle in the body sets off a chain reaction. A common weak muscle is the transverse abdominus (also known as the "internal weight belt). Never use a weight belt when lifting. To strengthen, get down on all 4's. Keeping your back flat, pull your belly button toward your spine without rounding your back up. Hold for 15-20 seconds. Repeat 10 times or so. Once you get the feel of this, engage this muscle whenever you lift, do abs, or anything else you can think of. One weak muscle can set off a chain reaction in the body, getting others to compensate and cause lot's of problems! Start lifting again, but very light. (If dr says ok of course). Slowly work up. Make sure you stretch! Anything that is normally tight stretch before you workout and stretch EVERYTHING when you are done. I hope you can lift and run again soon. I know how I felt when I thought my days might be over! Best of Luck!

     
    Old 04-22-2001, 07:28 AM   #3
    Gattaca
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    Re: Advice for newbie re L5 S1 disc injury

    Thanks alot Runner for your uplifting post!

     
    Old 04-27-2001, 08:24 PM   #4
    diving girl77
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    Re: Advice for newbie re L5 S1 disc injury

    Gattaca, I don't know if a spinal fusion was ever mentioned, but it has changed my life! I had to see 4 specialists before I found one that I could trust and believed my symptoms. I have been pain free for 15 years now and I don't look back. The thing is with the numbness, which is a pinched nerve, it can cause permanent nerve damage. If you want to stay active I would suggest you consider a fusion. Find a good orthopeadic surgeon, the risks are low in the L & S areas. Good luck

     
    Old 04-28-2001, 01:30 AM   #5
    Jeane in Alaska
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    Re: Advice for newbie re L5 S1 disc injury

    I'm a fusion person also however I don't agree with the last persons post on having fusion. Surgery should always be avoided if at all possible. Unless your doctor says that you would be permantly damaging your nerves by not, I wouldn't.

    I am 13 months post-op from fusion and am still having lots and lots of problems. Also with fusion you'll be looking at the possibility of more fusion above the levels already fused, that may not happen for 10 to 20 years, but it is common. Fusion surgery only has a success rate of 50% so isn't a guarentee.

    I highly suggest you have your doctor refer you to a Pain Managment doctor. There are so many treatments avaiable. Regular PT, drug therapy(anti-inflammitories, nerve meds.), Back injections such as epidurals, cadual, facet, so on. Your doctor is absolutly correct on giving it time. If you're back doesn't improve I would then suggest seeing a Neurosurgeon.

    I don't want to dismiss the other posters suggestion of exercise but to be safe you should consult with your doctor first. I personally do a lot of swimming for my therapy. It's very easy on the back.

    Good luck and hang in there,
    Jeane

    ------------------
    Laminectomy 8/98
    repeat laminectomy 1/99
    L5-S1 fusion w/plates&screws 3/00
    hardware removal 4/01<p>[This message has been edited by Jeane in Alaska (edited 04-28-2001).]

     
    Old 04-28-2001, 10:35 AM   #6
    david c1
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    Re: Advice for newbie re L5 S1 disc injury

    I would say risks are high for fusions. You have a chance of improvement, you have a chance of staying the same and you have a chance at the rest of your life being ruined.

    Fusing to S1 creates all kinds of problems. You will always have SI joint pain because they become hyper mobile to compensate for the fusion.

    Fusion should be last resort to stabalize and releive nerve pain. Don't expect alot of back pain relief.

    I broke my first set of hardware because of non-fusion and when The went back in the hardware had done major nerve damage. I'm fused from L1-S1 and allready having problems with disc at T12-L1 Your going to have even more stress put on disc above and below any fusion site.

    It's not a rose garden for everyone and I don't consider 50% chance of worsening symptoms to be good odds.Just my humble opinion. I'm a 35 year old otherwise healthy male looking at a morphine pump to control intractable pain.

    Presently I'm on 120 mgs of methadone a day for pain control.Thats about 300mgs of morphine in most conversions.It's not easy to find a doc to take care of someone elses mess either.Opiate pain management is still very contriversial. Only about 10% of pain management docs actually use pain killers. David

     
    Old 04-28-2001, 01:22 PM   #7
    diving girl77
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    Re: Advice for newbie re L5 S1 disc injury

    Hi guys, well I cannot agree with all the comments. I had my fusion (L4-S1) 15 years ago and I am still pain free. The little bit of flexibility you loose is of no concern, the only thing I can't do now that I could do before, is touching my toes. I think the major concern is finding a good orthopaedic surgeon. I went to one that does only back ops, I have never looked back. I know it differs (recovery and the op)from person to person. I have a life now and I don't look back. PS; yes, I agree with the fact that plates and screws post a different risk, they used bone from my pelvis for the fusion and that is still the best option, the discomfort of that subsides after about 6 weeks. See my other posting on the board under my screenname. Good luck

     
    Old 04-28-2001, 08:31 PM   #8
    diving girl77
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    Re: Advice for newbie re L5 S1 disc injury

    Jeanne, you obviously have all the answers, but why not have surgery to relieve pain and discomfort. My situation was not life threatening, but the risk to lower back ops is no greater than having your appendix removed. I did not suggest that she has the op, I suggested she research it and ask her doctor all the questions related to the surgery. I'm sorry yours did not work out, the doctor that did mine has a 100% success rate - maybe you have chosen the wrong doctor - a neurosurgeon I guess.

     
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