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Learn how a lumbar disc herniates and can cause lower back pain
Sciatica is leg pain caused by a problem in the low back.
See how a disc degenerates and how it can cause pain and other symptoms
HeidiG said: I personally think the fact that using a brace could let muscles get weak is a good reason to not use a brace too much just for pain relief (e.g., instead of or prior to surgery). Though I'm sure plenty of folks have gotten very helpful pain relief from using one!My doctor believes that the number one priority is getting fusion (and protecting the hardware until that happens), and that muscles can be re-strengthened later--you won't get so weak or so stiff that you can't recover all that with good PT after fusion has taken. I agree with that, and think the brace is a good idea for me (especially since my hardware placement is precarious), although I do truly hate hate hate :''( wearing the brace and sometimes get annoyed at being so stiff and watching my already weak muscles get weaker.But, that said, I HAVE been working on my core muscle strength very recently (after getting doctor's permission, and starting at the right "stage" in his recovery plan) using some simple pelvic floor and transverse abdominal contraction exercises I learned from a Pilates instructor/PT. I'm doing exercises while sitting on a ball and not stressing my spine. My therapist and I are carefully going through things to determine what is truly "safe" to do--I've learned that I simply won't do anything that either of us has any doubts about. :S The exercises I'm doing now are for deep core muscles and are being done in an extremely low lumbar-stress manner. But, I have to do them a lot during the day! BTW, I also did these same exercises (and others) before surgery to try to strengthen my core in advance of surgery, but at that time did them in a more aggressive manner (including lying on my back, more movement, more reps, resistance, etc.).