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My story. Similar to yours?

29 years old.
160 lbs

Roughly 6 months ago I “threw out” my lower back folding laundry. Embarrassing, I know, but at least you know I’m being honest : ) I made the poor decision to force a round of golf 3 days later and the day afterwards it went out again. Then, about 10 days later after having improved a bit, I threw it out for a third time in the shower worse than you could imagine. I was rendered completely immobile and laid on the shower floor for about 10-15 minutes before fighting through the pain to get up. The pain was that sharp “zapping” pain you feel in your lower disc, clearly impingement of the nerve column of some sort. My back was in completed spasm. I managed to get myself to the dr and was prescribed a Medrol dose pack. If at the time of the injury I was at 5%, I had improved to roughly 60% by the time the dose pack was completed. The 60 days that followed, with considerable stretching, icing and anti-infalm intake, I had improved to roughly 80-85%. It was at 80-85% where I plateaued and remain to this day (3-4 months later). Dull lower back pain is consistent, never down the leg. Pain feels fine when I’m upright and moving but gets progressively worse the longer I sit. Lifting things, playing golf and other similar activities are out of the question.

2 weeks ago I finally forced the Dr. to prescribe an MRI which showed “mild budges” in the L3/L4 and L4/L5 and a “small midline annular tear” in the L4/L5. It also showed “mild disc degeneration” in the L3/L4 and L4/L5. Keep in mind that the MRI was performed 6 months after the original episode so I’m uncertain if this has always been the extent of the damage or if what was once a herniation and larger tear has improved to this point. The doctor told me that it wasn’t uncommon for males in the late 20’s, even those feeling healthy, to show similar results on an MRI. This sounded all well and good but didn’t help the fact that I lived every day with consistent, dull lower back pain and wasn’t able to do the active things I enjoyed doing. He prescribed physical therapy which I’ve been doing for 2 weeks with little, if any, improvement.

My passion is golf and I judge my recovery entirely on my ability to get back on the course. I guess what I’m looking for is reassurance of some sort. Has anyone experienced similar pain 6 months after the fact and fully recovered without the need for surgery? 4 months seems like a long time to have plateau’d and clearly has taken a toll on my optimism. What helped you the most? My fear is that I will be at 80-85% forever and never be able to do the things I love again.


  • Lowden100LLowden100 Posts: 14
    edited 04/09/2014 - 8:38 PM
    I've got a similar scenario as you although I have a sequestered disc and a bulging disc with numbness, foot drop and constant dull low back pain. I first injured my back one year ago and was off work for two months. Similar symptoms as now things got better over 3 months although the pain was always there. September I had another flare up which settled quickly. In march this yeAr I needed hospital to manage my pain for 4 days. Again my symptoms have improved significantly. I'm a fit 33 yo male and running is my passion aswell as cycling and gym. I can cycle and do light duties in the gym now but certain things are a no no these being running and any heavy weights. I have seen my consultant who has offered surgery to remove the sequestered and bulging disc. I have gone for this rather than injections which only mask the underlying problem. Everybody here will tell you to speak to your doc and figure out the best treatment. However if your into a sport and your injury is causing nerve pain and you want to recover quicker surgery is the better option as discs take 2+ years to heal with conservative treatment i.e for you golf would not be good. Now your symptoms don't seem too extreme so my advice would be to put 100% into your Physio for a good while walk everyday 4 miles minimum, practice good posture and do core exercises daily. Then re evaluate your situation after say 12 weeks. I hope this helps.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    Welcome to Spine-Health and how to get started here

    You should use the above message and links as a reference guide on key items about Spine-Health and how to navigate the site.

    Your symptoms and MRI results indicate that your problem is mild. The fact that the original problem was 6 months prior to the MRI shouldn't have had any bearing. Many people, young or old can get by with the situation you have through
    physical therapy and approved exercises.

    Golf.... Just by the nature of the swing, it is never good for a person's back. There are plenty of golfers out here, some that may respond to this. So, yes, you can play golf after having situations like you do.

    There are many golf pros that specialize in helping golfers to modify their approach/swing to avoid additional spinal problems. You are young, at this point, I would concentrate on doing all the exercises and building up a strong core environment to protect your back.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thank you for the responses. Today was a rough day. I tweaked my back doing bridge exercises during my physical therapy session. The left side of my back is in spasm. It doesn't seem to be catastrophic by any means but clearly a large step back. I can't help but feel like my lower back is a house of cards waiting to collapse at any moment. I actually walked into my session today and told the therapist my back was feeling ok and that today was a good day. Then it goes on me. So frustrating.
  • I'm sorry for your set-back. It's horrible when that kind of thing happens. You said, " I tweaked my back doing bridge exercises during my physical therapy session." What happened? Was your form wrong? What do you mean by 'bridge' exercise, like yoga? I hope you don't mind. I've never done that exercise in physical therapy. I'm just a little worried that you should hurt yourself more in physical therapy.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • In a bridge exercise you lay flat on your back with your legs elevated on a large exercise ball. You lift your pelvis up creating a straight body position, hold for 3 seconds and then relax. My understanding is that it is a fairly standard core exercise. Clearly my back did not take too kindly.
  • Thank you! I've done tons of physical therapy but they never did a lot of ball work. We're all different. I had the yoga bridge stuck in my mind. ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • My PT never wanted me doing any exercises that caused pain and if we did one that hurt, she would stop and modify the movement so there was no pain. Just my experience, but her approach was great and from that point on, my PT sessions have been very effective at lessening my pain and strengthening my core
    2015: Thoracic protrusions C7-T1, T3-4, T6-8
    Dec'13: 360FusionL4-S1 w/bone graft
    2013: 3x2-level disc injections: 12mo surgery postponement
    Dec'12: DiscogramL4-S1
    Sep/Oct'12: Bi-lateral Rhizo AblationsL4- S1
  • Btw, the bridge exercise that you described is called "pelvic lifts" in where I live. Same thing and yes, very effective
    2015: Thoracic protrusions C7-T1, T3-4, T6-8
    Dec'13: 360FusionL4-S1 w/bone graft
    2013: 3x2-level disc injections: 12mo surgery postponement
    Dec'12: DiscogramL4-S1
    Sep/Oct'12: Bi-lateral Rhizo AblationsL4- S1
  • RebosRRebos Posts: 3
    edited 04/13/2014 - 1:24 AM
    I am on laminectomy 3 in the same area. First 2 were in late 80's both took months to return me to full activity. I even got back to weight lifting. Then 12/2/13 I placed an ice chest down and that familiar returned which resulted in number three. This time is far different I have lost the ability to take concert photos which requires bending holding heavy gear. It has been 5 months with 3 months of PT and I am at the same place. At 60 I am beginning to think I may have to learn to live with my backbrace and cane.

    It sounds as if you are doing everything to help heal/strengthen your back. I know that is how I was able to regain full use of my back on the first two-Good Luck
  • JL8248JJL8248 Posts: 6
    edited 04/13/2014 - 4:32 AM
    Has anyone experienced non-painful clicking or popping in your lower back? It typically happens when i'm stretching or performing a twisting motion. Again, not painful.

    I recall feeling this sensation when my PT was massaging my back in my last session. This was prior to my "tweaking" my back during the pelvic lift/bridge exercise. I'm curious whether or not one might be related to the other.
  • I can not recall, did you have a fusion surgery? If you did, it may be the hardware clicking.......
  • JL8248JJL8248 Posts: 6
    edited 04/13/2014 - 11:45 AM
    No, I've never had surgery on my back.

    Thanks for all the responses.
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