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Professional Athlete... Back pain ruining my life



  • Forgot to mention:

    Went to the Neurologist and he was honestly as clueless as I was, especially considering that I didn't have many sciatic symptoms.  He spent a lot of time with me and answered a lot of my questions.  He took a good look at the MRIs as well.  Didn't see any significant nerve impingement, did a lot of reflex tests.  Thinks that my left ankle is showing some "reflex changes".

    He wants to do an EMG and eventually a cortisone in the affected disc.  I am having mixed feelings about it.  I don't really want to "mask" the pain, as my profession will take a toll on the discs if I work through the injury.

    I've stopped training since the MRI and diagnosis, which was about 5 weeks ago.  And I can honestly say that I'm seeing some improvement.  Much more range of flexibility where the pain usually was.  But still stiffness and tightness in the mornings or randomly through the day.

    I'm determined to fix this god damn back and get back to my craft.  

  • I feel for you dude. 

    I’ve competed in combat sports since I was 15. This has been the worst injury I’ve had. And like you can’t get a definitive diagnosis. 

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  • MarWinMarWin OhioPosts: 704

    Hey man, can you re-describe your symptoms? Which one's bother you the most? I believe in your first post you mentioned you wrestled, and then later in the day wrestled again but without proper warm-up. My question to you would be "what did you do [physical activity] between the first match and the second one later that day? 

    In another post you asked about the MacKenzie method. It is a popular method, but one that I feel can be detrimental because it focuses more on unilateral work as well as flexion/extension work. In my opinion, since the body is a unit, neither of these approaches work consistently well. The reason I dislike unilateral work is because we are bilateral in nature, so it only makes sense that what we do to one side, we should do to the other - this helps to promote keeping the muscles in balance. The reason I dislike flexion/extension moves when you have low back pain / sciatic pain is if the nerve is already impinged (and you do not know where at any given moment), then adding further impingement may exacerbate things. This is my reason for not liking the Mac method. 

    I do think its beneficial to stop training while you are trying to sort out the pain. As you train, you also strengthen. If you have muscle imbalances, the strengthening will only serve to further strengthen the imbalances. This can lead to more pain. Hope that makes sense so far?   

  • @MarWin

    Thanks a ton for the reply.

    My symptoms: 

    I have pain in my lower left side. It is always very stiff, unless i do hyperextension exercises, then it’s loosened up temporarily.  Anytime I do a squatting motion with weights there is pain in my lower left side, psoas and left hip.

    When I first injured it 9 months ago, there was some slight sciatica only for a few days. Since then, it has healed up a lot. Although there’s still a lot of stiffness and not a lot of mobility, especially in the mornings.  It’s good enough to where I can still do explosive twisting and rotations (sprinting, boxing, kickboxing) but is aggravated when I apply weight/force to it (wrestling, lifting). 

    MarWin, I think you’re right about the Mckenzie exercises. After a few days, it made my symptoms really flare up and I feel it.

    I can’t find a pattern to this healing process. Just when I think I found something and made progress, the pain comes back and I’m right back to square 1.

    I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never compete again, let alone be pain-free. I’m strongly considering to retire from the sport I love because of this curse.

  • I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never compete again, let alone be pain-free. I’m strongly considering to retire from the sport I love because of this curse.
    Keep going to your doctor appmts and pressing forward. You never know. You’re still young and may bounce back. Far better to be your age and have this injury than to be a 40 yr old IMO. 

    My doctor says certain annular tears can take 18 months to heal from (but that’s assuming you’re not constantly re-aggravating it, of course).

    Good luck. Please keep us posted.

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