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Hello everyone, my name is Ajay Parecadan and about 6 months ago in March my L5-S1 disc bulged after performing heavy squats at the gym (along with an athletic lifestyle of running and biking). Initially I experienced buttock pain and numbness in my right foot. A few days later I went to the doctor who said it might be a muscle spasm or piriformis syndrome and that it would heal soon. So I took his word and a week later I was back in the gym. Little did I know I was just setting myself up for more.
About two weeks later the butt pain had subsided but the numbness came back with a vengeance. I went to another doctor who said that I should completely stop working out and running and stick to walking...I cried because of the pain as well as the inibility to do the things I loved. A week later I went against his advice and started running again...and made the problem even worse.
In June my butt pain had fully diminished, however the numbness moved to my heal and was even more frustrating. Along with this I was beginning to have debilitating back pain. I finally went to a doctor who gave an mri, which revealed my minor disc bulge at l5-s1. A few days later I went to a spine specialist who told me that this is completely normal in athletes as well as the general population, and that if I lay off squats, deadlifts, running, and stick with other lifts not putting strain on the back in addition to light biking(only 2 miles) then in three months I would be fine. This is where the depression hit.
Throughout June, July and August I was crying like a 2 year old. I was afraid I would never lift weights, run, or do any activities again. In addition I feared ridicule from my family who had heard the news from my parents. I felt like I was an idiot and that I had ruined my fitness future, as well as my academic future (as I could not sit down and study due to the pain). It was so bad I even considered suicide by thr end of it
By the end of August, I had surfed the internet for depressing forumns and older people whoose injured just worsened over the years. I was losing hope until I saw the story of a Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan. Hrithik had suffered from not one, but two slip discs. After gaining weight during his rest (post injury) Hrithik got back in the gym and was able to obtain the best body and be in the best shape in his entire life. Along with this I watched inspiring ted talks of parapleigics who who joined para-Olympic leagues and/or explored different careers and achieved success in life. In addition I talked to my brother in law who had dealt with chronic pain...he told me me uncles who ridiculed me were jealous of what I had achieved fitnesswise, and wanted to feel better by saying things like "Your days of extreme sports are over".
Equipped with better motivation as well as stretches and adjustments by a chiropractor, the back pain isnt gone but is tolerable and the numbness has subsided. I have started going to the gym and lifting heavy weights (avoiding squats and deadlifts and other exercises with no direct back support or spinal flexion) and concentrating on hyperextensions, lats , core and everything else. I havent started running yet but having gained a knack for biking long distances. I am very confident in the near future that I will be able to run again shorter distances and in a walk run interval fashion.
Some suggestions I have are get an mri as soon as possible (you really have to push your doctor or go to an ER asap). Along with this do not read forums which are about people who are suffering (stick to positive articles otherwise you will lose hope). Go to a psychologist or somebody who has overcome or is dealing with chronic pain. Go to a spine specialist as well as a chiropractor. The chiro was the most important part of my recovery (especially the stretches he gave me to do everyday, three times a day). And lastly do not lose hope (there are people in worse shape than you who cant even get out of bed, so write a list of benefits you have and consider them before considering what you don't).