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Tingling in Foot, Aftermath of Herniated Disc, Running?

ellewilsoneellewilson Posts: 6
Hi everyone. I had a herniated disc almost a year ago. The pain was acute and semi-disabling for 7-8 weeks, but after that, I returned to complete normal physical functioning and the pain slowly, very slowly subsided. (Did not have surgery). During this past June and July, the pain in my leg had dwindled down to almost nothing. But then, this month, for some reason I can't figure out, pain in my leg has increased again, this time with some tingling in my foot that I haven't had since the acute phase. The pain is still fairly mild, but I don't like it. I don't know why it's increased again, and I'm worried. I'm a runner and had returned to running for the past 5-6 months. All of my providers (phys therapist, sports med, non-surgical NP) emphatically tell me that running did NOT cause my herniated disc, and will not aggravate my herniated disc or cause an increase in sciatica. I want to believe them, but I admit, I still wonder if maybe my running has caused a return of symptoms. (I've been faithfully doing the stretches my PT has recommended for me, for the past year.) Any thoughts about jogging and sciatica/herniated disc recovery? Many thanks,Laura.


  • I'm not sure to what extent you herniated the disc.
    Did you actually tear the annulus? Or what is bulging and pressing on the nerve?

    I'm not a doctor.

    My experience (and it may or may not be like yours). I have dealt with sciatica for years (17). The doctors always told me that I either had a stress fracture, herniated/bulging disc, or something else (forget). They sent me to PT and told me to just be cautious about too much aerobic exercise. They did not discourage running but said just balance cardio with weight lifting type of activities. So for years, I followed their advice and was smart about listening to my body and doing the PT exercise to ensure my core was strong.

    Last year (to this day) I herniated the disc at L5/S1 with a large tear in the annulus of L5/S1. I felt/heard it, saw stars, and literally could not get out of bed (despite trying with help)...pain was so bad I almost passed out 3x's. I ended up in an ambulance ride to the ER.

    Ok, so why is this relevant?
    The doctors told me not to every feel bad about the running. They said that while it is 'stess' to the body, the fact that I was so fit, probably helped me. Do I believe them? Not sure. But I do believe them. I was hurting in my calf...had I just listened to my body like before, I probalby would have given up on the race I was training for.

    So Do I think running aggravates the spine?
    Yes but in moderation, I think it helps you stay fit to keep the spine prepared in case you unexpectedly trip or fall.

    I had a microdiscectomy. I had no choice as I had lost feeling in my left butt, back thigh, heel to outer toe and was losing feeling in my groin area. The doctors were worried and based on the size of the herniation, my body wasn't going to reabsorb the piece that was severely pressing the nerve.

    I think you have to talk to your doctors. Then you have to decide what's best for you. Remember your body is a shock absorber when you run. The less disc at one level, just means the others have to absorb the shock. So the question is...is it worth the risk? What's the right balance? Are there other activities that bring you the same health benefits with less risk to your back?

    When I had the 1st surgery, I thought I would just give up distance running and keep my runs to no more than 3x/week and no more than 3 miles. But my surgery failed. I had a 2nd Microdiscectomy and I have very little disc left at that level. I've decided to move running to the bottom of my list because I don't want to risk needing a fusion or further damage.

    I can swim, I can walk, I can hike.
    In a few months I can consider biking but will likely not do that for some time.

    I know I'm not helping Laura but it really is a personal decision based on where you are in life, what your doctor says, and the risk you are willing to take.

    For me, I'm 41 and will be crushed if I lose my ability to remain active so to me, I've just adjusted my priorities. I don't have children eitther but I have nieces I want to be able to play with at the playground. But working out is so key for me, in what I'v read, on keeping my back from undergoing any further damage so I've decided that running is too risky for my situation.
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