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Degenerative Discs Lower Back
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By jeb013
From Portland
Feb 27, 2013

Was wondering if anyone has ever dealt with degenerative disc disease in the lumbar region. Diagnosed with two bulging discs (L5/S1 and L3/L4)and an issue with the SI Joint on the right side.

I've done the chiropractor thing and the Dr. recommends staying away from chiropractic care for fear of aggravating the problem, so I am in physical therapy to get me moveing again. Physical therapist thinks I should be pain free by July which could leave me open for a fall rock season.

My question is should I be worried that this is the end of climbing or is it possible to come out of this stronger than ever. I am not a super strong climber but I would really like to get back into the .10's and enjoy the next 18 years climbing with my newborn son, not just showing him pictures of what his dad used to do.

Jeremy


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By clint dillard
From Louisville, Co
Feb 27, 2013

Jeremy, sorry to hear about your back but I been there man. In 2003 I had the same problem with herniated as well and ended up causing weakness in my left leg. After PT and other types of treatment including a month climbing in Thailand (steep climbs relieved my symptoms)I ended up needing surgery. My doc cleared me to tight top ropes 3 weeks after surgery and I was back climbing in Indian Creek 3 weeks to the day.

Fast forward to now I still have DDD but as long as I stay active I feel normal. I occasionally get back pain but I don't let it define me.

I'm also a Physician Assistant who cares for patients with back injuries and I work closely with Physical Therapist as well as a Chiropractor.

Be diligent about doing your exercises. Chiro does help but you need to make sure you are with an experienced Chiropractor otherwise your symptoms will get worse.

If all else fails, a steroid injection is not the end of the world and can really help if needed.

Acupuncture and massage can help if you have trigger points (knots felt when you push on the muscles) in your low back. Sometimes these can actually be the major cause of the pain and the DDD was an incidental finding on MRI.

Good luck. You are going to do fine and you have many years of climbing ahead of you.


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By DannyUncanny
From Vancouver
Feb 27, 2013

If you can figure out a way to do it, hanging upside down for 15 minutes a day with your back completely relaxed really helps open up your discs. You can start with several short intervals at first. It's supposed to be good for blood circulation too.


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By Taylor-B.
From CO & AK
Feb 27, 2013
Mt. Churchill, University Range

Check out PRP injections. Dr. Karli of the Steadman Hawkins Clinic has been spearheading this revolutionary treatment for orthopedic issues. I've had this procedure done and it's well worth it!


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By The Stoned Master
From Millerstown, PA
Feb 27, 2013
Day Lily.

It will absolutely not be the end. I am a combat veteran who has bulging discs. My entire L and S region are "fucked". I'm 28 and have moderate osteoarthritis in my knees also. I used to throw my back out and I would be literally paralyzed sometimes for seconds sometimes hours.

I gave up on everything, my dream of being a mountaineer and all. I gained weight and a bad attitude. Now rarely have pain (just the usual daily sore) and I frequent the gunks, seneca, etc multiple times a month. Not only am I not being held back by my condition but Iam excelling at climbing, that is improving and growing in every way possible.

The best things for you: glucosamine, exercise (yep the stronger your back the less the pain), a balanced diet and a positive attitude. And stretching!

your effort is the only thing to help you, save you, without you putting effort into yourself you will live your days out a prisoner to your body.


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By The Stoned Master
From Millerstown, PA
Feb 27, 2013
Day Lily.

Low weight (real low weight if any at all), high reps =good for strengthening your back. If done mindfully strength training, which a physical therapist may do, will hopefully lead to no pain or manageable, non-holding you back pain.

Watch your weight. Lose weight (heathfully, mindfully though).

Apply what climbing has taught you: find comfort in uncomfortable. Eventually what is uncomfortable will and can be comfortable.

Sleep with a pillow inbetween legs/knees.

if you don't already adopt discipline and proper posture (big one!)


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By jeb013
From Portland
Feb 27, 2013

Stoned,

I hear ya about the getting frustrated, in the last 8 months since this happened I had started to give up. I was having debilitating pain at least once every 6 weeks so it seemed all i was doing was recovering. In that time I gained 20 pounds which for my stature is huge.

I finally have a physical therapist that is really working with me and have started moving the right direction in regards to pain and weight so I am optomistic. The scary part was when the Dr. said I would have to severely modify my activities from here on out.

Thanks everyone for the responses, it gives me a little hope which at this time is what keeps me moving. The hope that I can beat this and come out of it with a plan of attack, and body that works for me not against me.

Jeremy


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By Leo Paik
Administrator
From Westminster, Colorado
Feb 27, 2013

Jeb, FWIW, DDD and disc issues for me seem to be helped with an inverter ~$100. 15 minutes at a time, 0-3 times a day. You can actually feel yourself regain a bit of your height.


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By Peter D.
Feb 28, 2013

I know there has been a lot about epidural steroid injections in the press because of the east coast lab that bascially fucked up, so you have to check the source. That being said if you can find a physician that knows how to do the injections properly with good technique they can work wonders. In 2006 I had 2 large central protrusions at L2/3 and L3/4 from a ski injury where I flexed forward with a pack that weighed 25 to 30lbs. I had pain from my sacrum down both legs to the outside of the ankle. I had 2 injections 8 months apart and was pain free until another injury when my boxer pit bull pulled off my feet while trail running. Again 2 injections and I'm pain free. Unfortunately I don't have my dog anymore, she was a great running partner. I'm a physical therapist and work with patients with all sorts of back problems, if therapy isn't quite getting the results I suggest they consider an injection. The other thing is make sure your iliopsoas gets worked on and that your pelvis is balanced. If your therapist looks at you like you have 2 heads find someone who does myofascial release. Oh, keep climbing just be careful when lowering or rappeling and you can not jump off boulders anymore, down climbing makes you stronger anyway.


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