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New dude with MRI results on my lower back... help please

crashdummieccrashdummie Posts: 38
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hi all, I'm a 29 year old Canadian guy that has had lower back problems for a year now. The lower back pain started after a light weighted squat exercise.

It's funny, cause I noticed something wasn't right half way through my set. I just thought to myself; oh, I better not do anymore cause that little sensation wasn't right...

well that little sensation has turned out to be a big problem in my life. So, basically I'm one of those "weekend warriors", that trains hard on and off and does everything wrong the rest of the time... big mistake.

So over the past year, I've dabbled in a little bit of every kind of treatment. Recently I've finished 6 sessions of IMS (interamuscular stimulation), I've had high hopes of it being the smoking gun but of course it wasn't. I'm also seeing a chiropractor with one of those activator devices that does it magic...

Well anyway, this is my MRI results I just got last night:

Degenerative height loss and signal lose at L2-3, L4-5 and L5-S1.

L3-4: A broad based circumferential disc buldge without focal protrusion or herniation is present.

L4-5: A small central disc protrusion with annular tear is present, flattening the thecal sac anteriorly. Mild degenerative facet joint changes noted.

L5-S1: A focal central disc protrusion with annular tear is present, flattening the thecal sac anteriorly, but not appearing to displace or impinge upon either right or left S1 nerve roots. Mild degenerative facet joint changes noted.

The paraspinal musculature is larely maintained and is symmetrivcal throughout.

So basically my symptoms include:

- Discomfort sitting for long periods but tolerable.

- little popping in lower back throughout the day, expecially when sitting. I can do it when I squeeze my butt cheeks, but only once and awhile can I do it.

- Sore muscles across top of pelvis expecially and in butt cheeks as well.

- Overall general weakness and crappy feeling all the time

So now I've decided to start swimming every morning (4x a week). I'm going to be seeing a person that is well versed with the "anatomy trains" techique which will cost me $150 per 90 mins and is the new big thing out.

Anyone have any advice of how to proceed, considering my current situation? I have hopes of not having sore or stiff muscles in my lower back and to regenerate the lost disk heights in my Lumbar, is this a reasonable expectation?

Any advice or insight would greatly be appreciated. Please feel free to chime in, whether you offer advice or not. Love to hear from you.

Best of luck to all.



  • Crash, I just wanted to comment that there are many back strengthening exercises you can do while in the water without paying someone to watch you do them. I've never heard of the "anatomy trains technique" but paying someone $150 4 mornings a week can get out of hand rather quickly. I would advise you speak with your physician before starting this type of program, and then if your wallet is thick enough, go for it. But if it were me, I would be cautious of doing the "new thing". The "I can heal back pain" business is a lucrative business for many scammers. Not to say this technique is bad, just be careful and know what you are going in to.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Thanks neck of steel... isn't that a comic book hero too:)

    No, I won't be seeing that person 4x a week about the "anatomy trains thingy". I will be swimming 4x a week and also at the same time, seeing the person about "anatomy trains". She is someone that helps me with proper body mechanics, to do with, sitting, walking ect. I can clain her under my insurance plan as message therapist:)

    I've heard a lot of good things about the book "anatomy trains" and this person is along the same thing. I had to book 1.5 months in advance to get an appointment...
  • When you are in the pool, wrap floatation devices around your upper midsection. Like the upper rib cage armpit area. Then, wrap weights around your ankles, or thighs, or "hang" them off your pelvis.

    This provide gentle traction to the lumbar spine.

    Take the report with a very small grain of salt.
    Images(MRI or CT) can be interpreted many ways by different people. Have them read by actual surgeons who specialize in the lumbar spine.

    No offense, but all the treatments you've dabbled in do nothing for the actual problem: the discs.

    Fellow spine health member Gwennie posted this great website that has some great info. It's chirogeek dot com. Check it out.

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • Treat the patient and the symptoms, you don't treat the MRI report; its just a guide to help sort out symptoms.
    No doubt building up core muscles are critical for you - but is this person really the right person to train you? I would try to seek out a spinal-fellowship trained physical therapist.
  • To help understand the various terms in your report you might want to read here:


    The loss of disc height and annular tears as well can be signs of degenerative disc disease:


    "- Overall general weakness and crappy feeling all the time" -- when a disc is in the process of herniating, it can cause this type of feeling -- kind of like coming down with a case of flu -- just an over-all malaise-type of feeling.... (I'm not saying that's what's happening -- just that sometimes people do feel this way and then awhile later realize that a disc has ruptured)

    There are two segments mentioned (L4-5 and L5-S1) where there are disc problems that are pushing out and flattening the thecal sac. This can cause some spinal nerve compression that can cause referred pain into the hips and down the legs, even into the feet. (again, CAN)

    This page has some interesting diagrams and images of disc and spinal nerve anatomy:


    Whether your exercise program is going to help or contribute to your problems I cannot say. Are the things you are doing prescribed by a physical therapist or doctor? If I were you, I would proceed cautiously and only under medical supervision because you could make things worse. Please be careful.

    xx Gwennie

  • Thanks Paul,

    I'll look into that swimming, lumbar traction technique. I''l check that website out too. What would you do if you were in my shoes? treatment wise?

    Optimist: how do I find a spinal-fellowship trained physical therapist?

    gwennie: I havn't had a chance to talk to the doctor about my MRI results yet but I will listen very carefully to what they say.

    Thanks everyone
  • Thanks Paul,

    I'll look into that swimming, lumbar traction technique. I''l check that website out too. What would you do if you were in my shoes? treatment wise?

    Optimist: how do I find a spinal-fellowship trained physical therapist?

    gwennie: I havn't had a chance to talk to the doctor about my MRI results yet but I will listen very carefully to what they say.

    Thanks everyone
  • Have you tried experimenting with your footwear at all. Something I just noticed during my latest back pain bout is that I should never walk around with bare feet. My pain is decreased significantly when wearing my workout shoes at all times around my house and even more so when I wear hiking boots when I'm out walking my dogs in the park. Also, I have found superfeet insoles to be a great investment for my back and overall feeling of well being.
  • Oh yea, I agree seatown.

    I wear my runners with orthotics around house (I have colapsed left arch) Also I am going to be investing in MBT shoes to go for long walks in. These shoes are special shoes that promote good walking posture and target the abs and butt better. Google it, MOBT shoes.

    Also I'm investing in some SANO shoes, they are quite expensive but the design takes a great load of force off back and knees. Sano shoes are made by Mephisto, search it.
  • Whoa. Very cool shoes. Thanks for letting me know about them. I am going to check them out in the coming week, looks like there are stores here in Seattle that carry them.

  • Oh yea, I used to walk like a caveman, all Hunched over. That walking style can breed all kinds of ill effects on the body. Go online, they have some really good deals on MBT's. I'm gonna get the sport model for only 120 bucks, including shipping. When I get them, I'm gonna go for a huge walk and go for long walks all the time in them. I really hope they make me stronger...

    They say you have to take it easy for the first bit and only wear them for an hour the first day and work your way up, a little longer each day.

  • Be careful with any new shoe ideas like this. I found that most stores that were carrying these MBT shoes, have placed them on their sales rack to get rid of them. With any kind of underlying spine issue/injury, forcing your body to suddenly focus on "supporting" itself in a vertical position (as in walking) can potentially cause not only exacerbation of the existing problem, but possibly more problems brought on by the sudden change in support or lack of support.

  • I totally agree with "C's" comment and would phrase the sentiments more strongly. Anyone who is prone to back problems, can set off a nasty chain of events by switching footwear that is radically different.

    Posture begins with our feet, and a great many spinal problems can be linked to the way our feet are placed on the ground. It effects the ankles, knees, which can put torque into the back, cause a tipped pelvis, uneven hips, SIJ instability, etc. Any and all these things can result in degenerative changes in the spine, change the vertebral structure, cause the growth of osteophytes, etc. It would take pages to list all the changes that can happen just due to the way the foot is planted on the ground.

    Also it is very difficult on the back to switch back and forth from a shoe with a rocker sole to a more traditional soled-shoe. I would just be very careful as you really could end up making your situation worse.
  • Wow!!!! I had no idea.... That does sum up abit of what I've been going through the last year for trying to get better with different treatments. It does seem to get worse the more people I see, to try and get better.

    First it was the PT that told me my spine was always locked up and my SI joints were not working right. Then the coutless PT's that followed and the few chiropractors I seen. What a journey of enlightenment and also, sobering the way I look at my own health. I could go on for days talking about the "back specialist" community.

    Well I was going to go get some Sano or MBT shoes today but I don't think so anymore, Thank-you very much for your insight on the rocker type shoes. You guys are extrmely valued on this website I'm sure.

    I'm going to be seeing my doctor in a couple hours and I'm hoping he can do something for me.

    What kind of treatment should I ask him for? A spine specialist? Or maybe a really good treatment for annular tears, money is no object as long as its got a good success rate I probably sound like a broken record around here).

    One more thing, I'm wondering if my current exercise regime is ok for my condition.

    - I just started to go swimming 3x a week at least.

    - I do lots of leg stretches and a few yoga poses (cat-cow and triangle pose)

    - I do spine flexs where I sit cross legged and grasp lower leg and pull spine up and forward.

    - I sit on a yoga ball and bouce up and down on my ass for 5 minutes (please don't laugh:).

    - back extensions, were I push my upper body up with my arms and arch my back and hold for 5 secs.

    - Hip flexor exercises every second day, clam shell and side leg raises.

    If you get through all that Thank-you very much, love to hear your thoughts.

  • If I were you, I would avoid any activity that involves twisting (like the triangle pose). Swimming can be difficult because you are reaching up overhead with your arms while your back is slightly flexed. Swimming on the side is OK, but who wants to do that? You also have to be careful with frog-kick if prone to any SI joint instability.

    Walking remains the BEST exercise for Spineys. ;)

    There is a section on approrpiate exercise on the Spine-Health website that show exercises that strengthen the back and core. You want to avoid anything that is going to irritate your lumbar discs or cause any inflammation.

    Good luck with your doctor.

  • Thank you very much again gwennie17,

    I looked up triangle pose and that is not the same thing I have been doing.... thank god. The pose I do forms a triangle but not that kind of triangle and its not a twisting motion either. Yea I guess twisting motions puts bad pressure on annular tears.

    My doctor said I don't need a spinal specialist. He looked at the MRI results and said my discs are buldging to avoid lifting weights and to do anything that elongates my spine. He highly recommended swimming.

    I think I'm going to go see a naturopath, one that specializes in SI joints. I think this discomfort I'm feelign is a lot to do with my SI joints and not even my lumbar...

    So many different things to do, so little precious time.

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