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What have i done??!

dodgyspineddodgyspine Posts: 10
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Lower Back Pain
I have been dealing with a degenerated L5/S1 disc with mild bulge (no nerve compression) for over 2 years now. Have had loads of physio and 2 ESI's as was having some leg pain in left leg only. Have never managed to be pain free but had managed to get the pain down to a managable level where i would just have the odd Neurofen or use ice if it got uncomfortable and was managing to swim a few times per week and just basically learning to live with it.

Things has been going well so i thought i would try biking again and bought a new bike that was set up for me and is one that keeps me upright. So, went out for a 20min bike ride that all felt fine but then over then next few days i got some tightness which felt like muscle tightness across the back of my hips and lower back (no leg pain) so i thought i'd go and see physio to see if we could sort it out and keep on top of it. I saw a new physio as regular one is on maternity leave and he suggested that i stretch the lower back out by laying on my back and hugging my knees to my chest.Previous physio had warned against this as it puts the spine into flexion so i mentioned this to new physio and mentioned that i was concerned about bulging the disc out further and he said no, it wouldn't do that. So i gave it a go and it did feel nice and as if it was stretching the area that needed to be stretched but then in the days after i started to have back and leg pain again. I have stopped doing the stretch and have since lasy night taken some diclofenac and today it feels a bit better but my lower back feels 'full' and stiff and as if i've been hit hard in the lower back.

I'm really concerned that this stretch has set me back months. Does anyone else do this stretch? What have i done? Is it possible that i have made the disc bulge even more? Sorry for the waffling email. I am just feeling really bad about this and i hope my physios advice hasn't caused this!
Its so frustrating. My insurance co is no longer covering me so any further physio appointments i have to pay for myself and i don't want to pay for advice that is going to hurt me!


  • it wont cost you much and it should help you
  • Thanks Straker. I will rest it for a day or 2 more and then try some swimming.

    Not fair that you are in so much pain. I pray you get some relief.
  • Having done so much PT now and having made the mistakes I can tell you there really is a tricky balance between continuing to stretch and stimulate the muscles in the lower back while not generating more pain.

    It seems to really come down to muscle vs. bone. The injury is an injury concerning the bone and your muscle are tensed up trying to protect the area. If you do not move enough they will eventually get so tense and spasm but if you do too much the injury will generate pain.

    It is really a game of trial and error.

    On a side not I do the same exercise and feels good. I have found the trick is that your legs are basically dead weight and you need to use your abs to pull in your legs. If you use too much hip or leg instead of abs you will feel discomfort later.

  • I have learned that if a physical therapist asks you to do something that feels wrong, just say no.

    Yes, it's true, sometimes you have to push yourself. But sometimes they are wrong, and you are the one who has to live with their mistakes.

    I had one strap my lower body down to the desk and have me hyperextend while I protested. Man, that hurt. Just. Say. No. Don't get me wrong, I've done things that hurt like heck and felt right. But it sounds like you trusted your old physical therapist. Go with the gut.

  • My PT always tells me...if it hurts stop. Don't overdo it so if you start with a new stretch, go lightly until you know what the impact is the next day or 2.
  • A couple of years back I was having regular physiotherapy and doing well on it (similar injury to yourself) "un-tensioning" the muscles which had been in spasm on one side so many years that they are now different sizes on the opposite sides of my spine. Anyway, during the course of treamtent, twice my usual PT was away and I had different ones - and each of them dealt with me in an completely different way from my usual one, which made me realise that it seems there are as many different ways as there are PTs! It stands to reason that they cannot *all* be right ! So I think the advice above is true, follow what they say to a point, but only you know what it feels like - even those of us with the same injury will experience it differently and we are almost programmed from being kids to go along with what doctors, dentists or physios tell us is right - "white coat syndrome", (which is well documented). I think with our type of injury, if doing a particular action feels *very* wrong, that means it is!
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