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  • Herniated disks and exercise

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    Old 01-08-2005, 07:26 PM   #1
    xcrunningchick
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    Question Herniated disks and exercise

    Hi,

    I am a 20 year old female who has been struggling with two herniated disks (L4-L5 and L5-S1) for the past two years. I have had a total of six cortisone injections as well as a lot of physical therapy. However, my symptoms have gotten worse, with my leg pain really affecting me a lot recently. I am between doctors (since i kind of gave up on the one that i have had for the past two years).

    Anyway, here is my question. In the past, I have noticed that easing back into exercise has sometimes eased my symptoms. I am wondering if this happens for other people... I assume it is because muscles helps stabilize my back and the rest of my body more. Can anyone recommend any particular things I could try in my gym? (running is obviously ruled out, but I am thinking of trying a stationary bike this week). Are there particular cardio things that people usually find either help their back or at least don't injure it more?

    Thanks!

     
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    Old 01-08-2005, 07:40 PM   #2
    melinda553
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    Re: Herniated disks and exercise

    Hi! I also have a herniated disc and I have surgery scheduled for an L5S1 fusion on the 19th. I "used" to be a runner but after my last injection I was able to start brisk walking again. It is strange because everything gets kinda nummed up when I am walking but if my shoe comes untied, forget it! When that happens I am having alot of back pain, not so much leg pain. I have been doing light weights for my upper body as well. Getting on a bike is a killer for me, once I try to get off I can not stand up straight. I hope you find a good Doctor and get some relief! Melinda

     
    Old 01-08-2005, 07:54 PM   #3
    stidw
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    Re: Herniated disks and exercise

    Melinda , I am also haveing a fusion of l5s1 on jan 20 and i hope this will ease the pain,

     
    Old 01-08-2005, 07:59 PM   #4
    melinda553
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    Re: Herniated disks and exercise

    stidw, I wish you a speedy recovery form your fusion! Melinda

     
    Old 01-08-2005, 09:49 PM   #5
    Losy
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    Re: Herniated disks and exercise

    Hi M

    I have been encouraged to walk both on land and in water. Both of these activities seem to reduce by symptoms also (bulge at l3/l4 -previous fusion l4/4 l5/s1). I have also found that a broad range of exercises using pool dumbells (foam material) in a hydropool (chest high water ) have also helped. In each case the appear to force you to use and strengthen the muscles we use to stabilise you spine. The other thing I have founfd to be helpful is using a kickboard and flippers - laps of the pool gently kicking

    Like any exercise you need to be careful to ensure that you listen to your body and know when to stop and or rest. Hope this info is of some help to you and others.

    Losy

     
    Old 01-09-2005, 07:11 AM   #6
    RussMc
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    Re: Herniated disks and exercise

    Hello Xcrunningchick,

    You are correct that the exercise helps. The problem is that sciatica seems to be phenomena that the experts do not seem to fully understand. I have yet to hear an adequate or consistent explanation. This may be because each person responds differently. However they have learned through experience that there is a cause and effect relationship between exercises and the reduction of pain. I have done enough research and experimenting to know what works for me.

    This is my opinion based on what I have learned: The disk is comprised on cartilage that contains a small amount of fluid. When the rupture occurs the fluid leaks and the bulge irritates the sciatic nerve. Sometimes small fragments of the cartilage break off which adds to the nerve irritation. The body considers this an injury and responds by tightening the muscles etc. to offer some protection to the nerve. This tightening results in pain at various parts of the leg and buttocks. In many cases mild exercise can relieve the pain. In extreme cases exercise doesnít help, and can actually make the pain worse. The body will eventually absorb small fragments over a period of months but larger fragments must be removed by surgery. In extreme cases the disk continues to crumble and fusion is usually performed.

    It has been my observation that many people are inactive for most of the day, and try to do some heavy exercises once each day or as the pain increases. This also seems to make the situation worse. Extended periods of sitting also makes the pain worse. I have found that light exercising several times during the day is more beneficial. In many cases the stretching exercises that are taught in PT will not likely provide immediate relief, but if done religiously will ease the pain over a period of several days and if done even after the pain subsides will help prevent painful episodes. A few short periods each day seem to work better than single workout of longer duration.

    I have a treadmill but have found that a slow pace (about 2 mph) works well. Higher speeds seem to result in shock waves as the foot repeatedly hits the surface too hard. My preference is plain walking on a flat surface. When walking, your body will adjust the gait to a comfortable level when pain or fatigue becomes a factor. Padded inserts placed in the shoes also seem to help. A Physical therapist advised me to avoid the stationary bike, but didnít explain why.

    In short, you must find what works for you.

    Russ

     
    Old 01-09-2005, 09:23 AM   #7
    Ben W
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    Re: Herniated disks and exercise

    All I can tell you about running is that it further stresses the injured discs. I am three weeks post my microdiscectomy and am still getting leg and foot pain. Try the elliptical trainer as it is non impact. Good luck.
    Ben

     
    Old 01-10-2005, 01:12 AM   #8
    lori j
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    Re: Herniated disks and exercise

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by xcrunningchick
    Hi,

    I am a 20 year old female who has been struggling with two herniated disks (L4-L5 and L5-S1) for the past two years. I have had a total of six cortisone injections as well as a lot of physical therapy. However, my symptoms have gotten worse, with my leg pain really affecting me a lot recently. I am between doctors (since i kind of gave up on the one that i have had for the past two years).

    Anyway, here is my question. In the past, I have noticed that easing back into exercise has sometimes eased my symptoms. I am wondering if this happens for other people... I assume it is because muscles helps stabilize my back and the rest of my body more. Can anyone recommend any particular things I could try in my gym? (running is obviously ruled out, but I am thinking of trying a stationary bike this week). Are there particular cardio things that people usually find either help their back or at least don't injure it more?

    Thanks!
    I don't know your insurance situation, but if you have it & can afford physical therapy, they will teach you exactly which exercises will actually relieve the pain & help the herniated discs.

    I had a herniated disc 5 years ago, the pain down my leg was 24/7 and unbearable. There was no position I could lay or sit that relieved it. I layed in bed for 2 months til my son told me a lady at his work had the same thing & that laying was doing me NO good. I had to get some type of help.

    My GP doc had me on pain meds & I did get one shot, but nothing helped til I talked him into writing me a script for physical therapy. It took a full 3 months of it, but I have no problems at all now from that disc.

    They told me at PT you have to get things strengthened & also started me off with McKenzie PT which is geared specificallly to helping discs in the back. It took a full 4 weeks just to get rid of the spasms in the muscles in my back, but once they did that, my progress was rapid & I had days with a few minutes of no pain, then hours & then full days & it finally worked!!

    Try it, what have you got to lose, plus they do teach you all the correct exercises to do for your back.

     
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