I herniated my L4/L5 disk almost 2 years ago. If there is any advice that I think would help you, it is do not rush it. Every back is different but rushing it can just end up making it much worse.
The things I do to prevent re-injury are: 1. If I am sore, i take it easy and ice 2. I do streches and hip/back exercises about 5 days a week 3. I avoid lifting heavy things or doing any activites that are high impact 4. I am conservative when it comes to my back even though i am stubborn. This goes back to the do not rush it.
Hope the back gets better. It can be a frustrating injury.
had sciatica back in High school from a bulging disc. My dad has had multiple surgeries to deal with his own herniated discs so i feel i'm predisposed to it and am careful.
What I do:
Regular yoga, I try my best to get to a class once a week, the backbends and core strengthening help a lot.
Learn and do backbends on your own (be careful, if you are injured). When i'm feeling good, i do a lot of these and they seem to help a lot. (one helpful position is to just lay on the floor propped on your elbows. I'll read a magazine or something and spend 20-30 minutes in this gentle backbending position.
Be super careful when lifting. Moving always results in back pain, so i make sure to schedule extra chiro and yoga that week .
I find climbing helps, perhaps it's the traction from hanging?
I take circuit and other classes with kettle bells sometimes, and definitely don't participate in anything that involves bending/throwing/deadlifting heavy weights repeatedly.
I have a 4mm herniation of L4. I was sent to a PT that specialized in treating athletes, and I got a list of core exercises (planks, crunches, etc.) that I had to do every day. I didn't notice any difference for probably 8-9 months, and then all of a sudden the pain went away and stayed controlled. The therapist said if I do them forever, everything will stay the same. If I ever stop, it will come right back. It has been over 3 years now and I am still good. A good physical therapist would probably be of value, as a herniated disk does not go away.
There are studies out there showing a relatively high incidence of abnormal imaging findings, such as herniated disc and degenerative joint disease, in completely ASYMPTOMATIC subjects. The point is, you are not doomed to pain and debilitation just from an imaging finding.
I suggest seeing a physical therapist, as there are many things that can be done, but they should be based on a skilled assessment and not webmd. Especially for low back pain, physical therapy treatment can often lead to less overall cost to the consumer/payer than other medical options and have just as good (or better) outcomes. In addition, in Colorado, you can go directly to a physical therapist without a referral (though insurance companies may still require one.) Many clinics offer affordable cash pay rates, which would be good for you if you don't have insurance.
Message me if you are interested in finding a PT, as I know many in the Denver-Boulder area and some in other parts of the state.
Tony- Sorry to hear about the bad luck. It sounds like you're trying to got the least expensive route possible. The good news is that most minor to moderate disc injuries will heal up on their own and the pain will go away. On the down side this process can take upwards of 12 months.
So if you can find some info, in the form of exercises or therapy strategies, on the interwebs that helps that's great. Having had patients that are climbers and have disc problems I can tell you that sometimes they could get away with pretty much any climbing, hard or easy with no problems and at other times, just getting through the day was a bitch due to pain. Just sort of the nature of the beast.
One thing I will say is that if you have any sort of tingling or numbness running down the leg. (especially into the foot) Or, god forbid, numbness in your groin and your junk isn't working right... do not pass go, go see an Ortho that specializes in spines. It's that serious. Good luck, Brent Apgar D.C. (if you want me to be all official and shit.)
Though there is a chance that you could get by with no treatment whatsoever, I can't say I agree with this approach. First, you have a limitation in function in the meantime, which as Brent stated could be a long time. I know that for all of my (many) injuries, I wanted to get back to work (and climbing!) as quickly as possible.
Second, a recent study just came out that showed that "[e]arly physical therapy timing was associated with decreased risk of advanced imaging (OR = 0.34, 95% CI: 0.29, 0.41), additional physician visits (OR = 0.26, 95% CI: 0.21, 0.32), surgery (OR = 0.45, 95% CI: 0.32, 0.64), injections (OR = 0.42, 95% CI: 0.32, 0.64), and opioid medications (OR = 0.78, 95% CI: 0.66, 0.93) as compared with delayed physical therapy. Total medical costs for LBP were $2736.23 lower (95% CI: 1810.67, 3661.78) for patients receiving early physical therapy. Physical therapy content showed weaker associations with subsequent care."
This was Fritz JM, et al. in Spine, titled Primary Care Referral of Patients with Low Back Pain to Physical Therapy: Impact on Future Healthcare Utilization and Costs. Don't know if it is officially published yet. I had access to the 'ahead of publish' info.
I suffered a herniated disc about two years ago. I don't know what exactly caused it and my (former) orthopod misdiagnosed it. It took the PT to diagnose it correctly. When PT and an increased dose of ibuprofin weren't relieving the pain, she asked the orthopod to give me a prescription for prednisone. A one-week course of prednisone knocked back the pain and then PT gradually got me back to normal over the next few months. PM me if you'd like the name of my PT (in Boulder). She's presently seeing me for post-shoulder surgery.
Steroid shots like cortisone or prednisone for orthopedic injuries is almost gross negligence on the doctors part, steroids are degenerative to tissue over time and give you arthritis when your older. Platelet Rich Plasma(PRP) injections!!! PRP uses your own immune system to help repair ligaments and tendons.It's the future of orthopedic medicine. Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail does PRP injections and their cheap.
Ask your chiropractor to recommend a physical therapist and/or to give you some work to do at home. When I first herniated my L5 yoga only made it worse as did big movements with weights. Depending on the severity of your injury I bet your pt will probably start you off with very inner core work that involve small movements like leg circles and pelvic tilts.
My chiropractor and physical therapist saved my life. I could hardly walk or belay then let alone run or climb, now I do both and the lower back is barely an issue. As another poster mentioned, this is work you'll want to do the rest of your life.
Definitely a gravity inversion table. I have seen them on sale for low $100s (Walmart online). Start out slow and stay inverted less than a minute to start out with. Work up to dynamic traction: Swing your arms to quickly go upright and then swing your arms back to slam back upside down. Keep your head and neck away form the platform to keep from hitting the stop. Do several reps of this. The dynamic action really decompresses your spine. After that, while upside down, pull the frame of the bed a little to increase the decompression. IMO, I think that inversion sessions should always be brief to limit damage to veins in your head.
Also, supplements are critcal to a fast recovery. CMO (Jarrow brand 'True CMO') nourishes and lubricates the cartilage. A good quality collagen (neocell brand 'Collagen Type 1 & 3') can work miracles. Mix a drink with: -1 scoop collagen; -12 oz water; -500mg vit c; 1-2 capsules bromelain; -dash of cayenne. >Take only on a completely empty stomach. Bromelain is a very effective antiinflammatory if taken on an empty stomach and collagen won't work for tissue repair if taken with food.
Antiinflammatories that can be taken with a meal are: tumeric; curcumen; boswellia; ginger; fish oil. Cut way down on veg oils and sugar since those are proinflammatories. Cut down on sources of free radicals (pollution, pesticides, smoke, alcohol, fried food) and add sources of antioxidants such as super fruits (blue berries, acai, noni, etc.)
Besides the PT, walking is great therapy for back injuries. Look at the ergonomics of your sleeping and get a new mattress if nescessary (or extra support on top of your mattress- maybe a Thermarest). Sleep with a pillow between your knees.
Herniated discs are a major cause of disability in people under 45. I am one of those people. For the past 3 years I suffer L5S1 disc hernia, the most common type of hernia. But each case is slightly different and that makes it very difficult to treat. In my case I also have hyperlordosis, scoliosis and spina bifida. I have been trying countless treatments and supposed cures. I was often left in disappointment but fortunately found some sources of relief. I'm not a doctor, just a student with lots of experience with a mother which is a doctor. At this time, despite my efforts, I have reached a point where I need surgery. But if I have had the experience and the knowledge I have now I could have avoided this complicated situation for sure. That's why I made a PDF with my experience and everything I’ve investigated and used to relieve my pain over the years.
I offer this guide for FREE to those who ask me by mail to this address. firstname.lastname@example.org
Since my insurance does not cover this type of operation I'm asking for help through the IndieGoGo platform. Through a donation you can get the PDF, “Herniated Disc Pain Relief and Treatments Guide”. Through this platform I will also answer any questions you may have about the subject.