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Basic disk questions

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,322
1. First, is this a bad rupture? Is it even a rupture or just a super buldge/herniation?
My doc didn't tell me and I don't see a NS for 2 more weeks.
2. My pain has subsided considerably. Sometimes I forget something is wrong. But I still have to move carefully and mornings are a bit sore. I'm taking 3, 800mg ibuprofens a day, spaced 8 hours apart. I don't want to risk any swelling.
3.Is it possible my nucleus is softer than normal and isn't pushing hard on the nerve (assuming it's a rupture)? I've heard that when you get older the nucleus can calcify. Is the normal consistency like jello or crabmeat?
4. Has anyone ever used an inversion table to stretch out their back? Is it dangerous?
5. How does the annulus rupture? Is it a hole, a side to side tear, or an up/down tear. And what keeps the rest from just gushing out?
6. I would really like for this to heal on its own and pretend this never happened. haha. God willing. This has scared me enough that I vow never to move heavy things ever again. Will this vow ultimately save my back or am I doomed to someday repeat this no matter what I do?

Answer 1 or 2 if you know.


  • Doing some of my own research. Appears I have a focal protrusion with migration which explains why the pain isn't killing me (as opposed to extrusion). It's basically being pushed down and wide. I also have lumbar spinal stenosis and buldges in the 2 disks above. Man, I'm a mess!

    Guess the key here is to protect my sciatic nerves until I can see the NS. Inversion table might actually help with the buldging disks. I'll see what the NS says.

    I still don't get how laying on my stomach and lifting myself on my hands helps. Seems to me it would pinch the protrusion and cause more damage. An NP told me to do that.
  • You're definitely right. My girlfriend laughs at me, saying I spend too much time researching stuff and asking opinions. Haha. She also says I'm scaring myself reading other people's posts on their pain. I disagree. I see it as a warning of what could happen if I don't radically change my lifestyle (which included weight-lifting, running, moving all my friends furniture, etc.) I've gained infinite respect for my back and my sciatic nerves.

    I also want to have all my questions lined up for the NS and be fully aware of my options.
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  • If your problem is a herniated disc, it is possible for it to heal on its own. My husband ruptured a lower lumbar disc many years ago. It took awhile and to this day, he still does his "back exercises" every day without fail. It will be important for you to strengthen all the muscles that support the spine and to keep your body in balance.

    While you are waiting for your appointment, you can help yourself by avoiding activities that involve bending, twisting, lifting and reaching. Avoid anything that causes the spine to vibrate or something that jars the discs, like riding or driving on a bumpy road, Drink lots of water. You can ice the area for pain...like ten minutes at a time.

    It is important to use good body mechanics and to pay attention to your posture. You might want to limit the amount of time you spend driving or riding in a car...and sitting for an extended period of time may increase your discomfort. You are well advised to retire the practice of moving furniture! You don't want to end up with a lifetime of back problems as a result of being a good guy for a couple hours!!

    Until you find out what is the extent of your injury, I would suggest you walk for exercise. It is important to get some exercises as you want to keep the blood flowing to the injured area and keep the blood oxygenated. I would avoid any exercises that puts you back in extension until you know for sure what is going on. If there is any "slippage," this position can cause more harm than good.

    Research has shown that statistically five years down the road there is no difference between those who choose to have surgery and those who wait it out using conservative methods to treat a herniated disc. As long as there is no bladder or bowel involvement or loss of reflex in the foot, the patient should be able to heal without needing surgery. However, many people, for a variety of reasons, are not able to wait it out. Healing is a slow process and most people are hoping for a quick fix!

  • My pain was horribly bad 3 weeks ago. I can relate to many of the posts I've read here. I am soooooooo thankful it's getting better, but i absolutely remember what it felt like and will do anything to not revisit it. If it means giving up running and taking up yoga, then so be it. It still hurts to a degree (mostly in the morning) but is very managable. I will avoid surgery at all costs after reading some of the posts on this board.

    Heck, I'm going to buy inflatable furniture and tell my friends, "get a mover." If it's over 25 lbs, I'm not lifting it. So much for some of my free weights. haha.
  • My husband's disc ruptured during the night. He woke up on Christmas Eve morning, tried to get out of bed and just fell back on the bed in agony. He spent a lot of time lying on the floor the first several days. I served him Christmas dinner on the floor by the Christmas tree! (He was still on the floor from when the family opened gifts.) I very well remember the searing pain he was in for about the first week or so.

    If running means a lot to you, I imagine you will be able to return to it eventually...but you have to be smart about it.

    Also, do not be surprised if you have flares from time to time. Then it's time to back off, give your back a rest for awhile.

    Some people have good luck keeping scatic pain at bay by the use of an inversion table. You might want to check it out.
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  • Talk about a sucky Christmas present! Was he actually diagnosed with a rupture or a severe buldge? I know it suddenly happened, but did he move something heavy the day before or do something that caused it?

    I like to run but I certainly wouldn't do it if it caused even the slightest damage to my back. The real problem is I'm 45 and cardio is really important. I have high cholesterol (I take 10mg of Crestor every day). I would have to replace it with something and most cardio stuff requires impact or twisting. Not sure which is worse!

    You're definitely right about the flare ups. Had one this morning. Felt great sleeping. It's when I first get up. Guess it's because all the weight is taken off for 8 hours and things settle in. At first I stand, and still feel good, but then my leg starts throbbing. I take some Ibu, walk the dog for about 15 minutes and I feel good again. I hate mornings! haha. But I'll tell you, it's much better than 3 weeks ago. Back then sleeping was pergatory, and waking up was absolute hell.

    Really, the worst part is I was one of the unsympathetic people. I really felt pain was in people's heads and they were a bunch of whiners. I've gone my whole life and have never had a bad headache or even broken a bone. I had a strained back like 12 years ago but it was nothing like this. The hard part about sciatic pain is, even after just 6 weeks, it chipped away at my spirit.

    For some strange reason I was very embarrassed to tell anyone at work how much pain I was in. Even my girlfriend doesn't know how bad it was. I wont show her my MRIs. Here, I don't mind sharing because I'm anonymous :) I don't like to appear weak, but it is so hard sitting in a meeting and smiling when it feels like your hip is broken, your calf is throbbing, and a knife is in your butt. And the only thing I could think was, "Will I be able to stand without collapsing?"
  • I know what you mean. I've had sciatic pain for five years.

    With my husband, I noticed him rubbing his thigh from time to time, and thought he'd strained a hamstring. He had soreness in the back of his thigh...but it wasn't that big a deal. That probably went on for about four months, and then he just awakened and couldn't get out of bed. He had ruptured a disc. He must have been about 44 when this happened.

    Luckily several specialists did not recommend surgery and advised him to wait it out.

    We live in a snowy climate so he runs part of the year when it isn't too cold or icy and he uses an elliptical trainer the rest of the year. We also have two big dogs that he walks several times a day.

    Some elliptical trainers are too much like a stepper and aren't good for anyone with spine problems. Ours can be adjusted so the stride is more like a cross-country ski machine and it puts less stress on the discs. So you are getting weight-bearing, cardio exercise and can work the arms, too.

    Hopefully you'll heal and won't have any further flares!!
  • Hi, it does not matter if you have a buldge or rupture. You should go by your symptoms. Some people with big herniations are plain assymptomatic. If you are feeling better in 3 weeks, you should try to avoid surgery for a while. In the mornings, I suggest first thinng to flip into your tummy and lift on your elbows for 1-2 min. Then get up without sitting. Then do some stretches (hamtring do in a doorway, so your back is flat on the floor), and do some back extentions. In order to undestand what they do for you, ask your doctor for a spine model, it is in every office, and try to move it in extension position, you will see that this position shifts disk away from nerve root and relives the pressure. As for cardio, if you walk fast you will get some cardio if you walk at brisk pace, this is what I just started to do now. I am almost 6 months after terrible pain and just started to feel better, so it is a long way. In the office I found that people are very sympatetic if you behave like it is normal. I just get up and stand behind my chair during the meeting. I also do a lot of typing/reading standing up. Get few thick books to move your keyboard and monitor up. I also suggest to use lumbar roll when sitting - I take mine into meeting room together with notepad. Just behave that this is normal and be confident in it, no one will say anything and even if they do - who cares - this is you back! I also talked to my HR and they allowed me to work from home for a while for a few days a week.
  • The back extension thing is good advice as long as you do not have spondylolisthesis. If you do, extension is absolutely not recommended and can very easily make the situation worse.
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