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Treatments for Herniated Disc - Sciatica

tufftimesttufftimes Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:02 AM in Exercise and Rehab
I suffered a herniated disc on Jan 8th 2012. For 2 weeks it was excruciating pain in the left leg and butt area. It is still lingering today 3 months later. Had I known to alternate & apply ice & heat immediately it may have healed quicker. Instead I continued playing sports a few weeks later thinking it was subsiding.

I ONLY feel it in the lower left leg and now in the upper left part too after doing the walking treatment.

I am 47, but very athletic, from doing P90x for past 2 years (the gym before that) and competitive tennis for 20 yrs. I strongly feel there was a pose I did from the P90x yoga and also sleeping on a bad mattress for 2 weeks while traveling overseas. Nothing like getting sciatica while overseas and not fluent in medical terms with the hospital. They did a CT scan, FREE, and once back in the states I got a MRI to confirm a L5-S1 herniation. Overseas clinic gave me Diclofenac and it stopped the inflammation as did the Doctor in the states since I told him it helped.
I did a visit to "marketing" doctor for an enbrel injection but since our initial consultation was all a sales pitch. I declined the offer, plus there were side effects and some people were not cured.

Fast forward to present day; I am trying to get off the NSAIDs, do some walking, piriformis & Mackenzie stretches. Anyway, the walking is aggravating it more. The rest and stretching seemed better.

Really, it is very frustrating. I don't want to be out of commission for 8 months to 1 year as I have read here and other forums. Exercising is a way of life for me.

Surgery is no guarantee nor is PT, correct? My friend's mom had it done and had no problems for 20 years but see people here have re-herniations. I looked up the doctor who performs it on pro athletes and they charge from $50k to $100k....Great, I don't have health insurance for this. I'm a veteran. So, now I feel kind SOL. Is this really it for me b/c I feel no improvements (I am standing as I type this)

MOTE: I am able to physically lift 20 lbs, play 2 hours of tennis within this recovery period but I ceased due to doctor's orders of 3 months off of tennis and lifting. However, what I've read here and other athletic forums, is it could be 6 months to 1 year of very lite activity!


  • Hi Tuff :wave: & welcome to SH - though I am sorry you have a injury and need to be here.

    I doubt you are going to like what you hear - but it is the truth "every one is different".

    Take me - bad car wreck at age 26ish same injury as you have - 6 weeks of almost total rest, ice, heat, bath tub soaks, steroids, pain meds, back brace, NO lifting anything heavier then a jug of milk. I was told NO PT for 1st 6 weeks - resting was my ONLY allowed activity.
    6 weeks later I was good to go - eased back into things, started PT, was told if I had pain to stop again. But I never did. I own a commercial cleaning biz and that is rough hard work. Never had a problem again for almost 20 yrs., until I fell about 8 yrs ago and it was lights out for me - game over. Wheel chair (out now) had to be dressed, bath, etc. I still remember how excited I was when I could put my own socks on myself :)

    So that was me. I know other people who do the same thing and never make progress. A few I know had surgery and some did super afterwards, some did worse or stayed the same.

    I do know if I were you I would not be playing tennis or any other sport.

    I get the whole exercise is my life attitude. I was in a very dark place after I fell. My whole world was all about working. I lived to work! It took me a long time to want to get out of the hole again and make a new life for myself. The members here held my hand the whole time.

    So I do get where your coming from BUT rest 6, 8 or even 12 weeks or longer now and play later would be a small price to pay ;)

    The pain you are feeling is your body telling you to stop - listen to it, treat yourself with TLC.

    Of course you already know there is no guarantee that this will work but I sure think it is worth giving a try.

    Please do let me know how you are doing. I will be sure to keep checking back for updates.
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • Thanks for the update.

    I guess it is a very individual condition, some recover fully, some 80-percent or so, and some don't at all. I decided yesterday to put the rackets and bag away for a while and no lifting either. Is 10 lbs per arm too much?
    i forgot to mention I have tennis elbow anyway so having both at one time can allow me to recover both at same time.
    A positive way of looking at it.

    However, I couldn't understand how walking around a track for 1 mile made my pain worse afterwards (when sitting), but standing and walking were OK. The sitting is OK 24 hours later though.
    So, now I cannot even walk that far w/o feeling horrible afterwards, great!.
    I came back I heard one part of PT is to bounce while seated on a fitness ball for 5 min to replenish oxygen to the spine and one can also do the EFX (elliptical fitness trainer) since it supports your body, a type of floating feeling, probably 50% or less of being in a pool.
    Back to the oxygen part, so does this mean I should eat more oxygen rich foods? why are blueberries and broccoli considered anti-oxidants when health articles say they increase oxygen?


    I hope one-day this can be a quick-fix for people. I bought items necessary in case this comes again if is heals to where I can be more active. It probably will since I have a history of muscle back spasms, but never had sciatica until now.

    As I start to recall, I did feel my left leg giving me signs months before as I experienced a type of uncontrollable pulse/twitching in the upper leg.

    And like you, Yes, I had the same feeling when I could put on my socks on by myself, just overjoyed with happiness. When I was unable to, and the girlfriend did it, although I'm a guy, it did bring me to tears. I am just hoping it'll be 6 to 8 months that I fully recover. At that time, I promised to not bend forwards from the trunk as much or do any exercises with incorrect form or instruction (which is what I feel happened since my left leg was burning beyond reason from the warrior 3 pose of p*90x)
    It appears I still need to be on anti-inflammatories 90 days out or the pain comes back (only in left leg)
    I will come back and update as well on any progress.
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  • My own personal opinion of ball bouncing would hell to the NO!! ;) Think of what your spine is doing as you do each & every activity and ask yourself if you are treating it in TLC way.

    Arms - again you are not going to be happy. I was told soup cans was all I could lift weight wise - so 1 lb was my limit per arm.

    I know this ALL stinks!!! Try to think of something you always said you would do when you had the time that does not involve climbing mountains lol ;)

    Do you have a book inside you dieing to be wrote? Have you wanted to learn how to design websites, learn new languages,? Think of what you CAN do so this healing time is more do-able for you.

    I guess (not to be mean) it comes down to 1 of 3 things.

    1. You can go back to your do-able activities and pay the price of pain and/or maybe mire and/or longer damage/pain (which is what I did). Then you will kick yourself forever.

    2. You can take the time needed to heal and be depressed & miserable.

    3. Take the time to heal, give it your all and make the best of this time.
    *Maybe start a free blog and keep a journal of all of this to helps others who are or will go through all of these same fears, pains, emotions etc. You can do it for free at blogspot.com and several other sites. You don't need how to do anything to do a blog there, except for click a mouse - they walk you through all of it in baby steps.

    If you do #3 and it doesn't heal you and you still end up needing surgery or some form of aggressive treatments, then at least you know you gave it your all.

    I know I am being a tad dramatic - I just don't want you to end up were I am and where I will FOREVER be - with my only prayers being "please stop me from getting worse".

    Please do keep me updated :)
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • Hey, that's actually a little bit of what I do is design and optimize sites for 10 years. After learning a new language, it brought me someone I wish I never had got hitched up with.

    I know what works for some doesn't for others. The ball has not affected me in a wrong way. No flare ups. No better no worse, it is VERY Gentle, VERY lite, no more than maybe 1/2 inch, not a pogo stick! I think your pain may have been worse.

    Coincidentally, I overheard someone today in Kinkos who had 2 spinal surgeries and she recommended I visit her Orthopaedic surgeon who did something non-surgical that cured her for the past 20 years. My call is in to him already :)

    If I keep the NSAIDs there is virtually no pain, so I probably have a minor HD, pain level is a 1 or 2 (on drugs), without it is a 5 or 6. I am not doing anything to make it worse. Inactivity I heard leads to extended recovery time.
  • First - way cool, so you are a SEO "geek" ;) I LOVE SEO. I tried to do it as a job and after getting ripped off too too many times I recently decided to go my own path - create my own site & SEO it for my own profit :)

    You are 100% right about the inactivity - there is just a extremely fine line there that you must be careful not to cross.

    I am how ever am VERY gun shy as of my own experiences. So I probably pressed that on to you - my apologies.

    PLEASE keep me posted (will add you as a buddy) about the Orthopaedic surgeon treatment. I am quite interested for both of us and anyone else that may benefit from this.

    I don't know how open or knowledge you are about what I call Holistic methods, but if you have some knowledge and/or are willing to learn there are some herbs that act like NSAIDS. I looked into it a long time ago for myself but with also being a diabetic it was not wise to cross traditional meds with strong herbs..... :(

    If memory serves me right (I may be way off course) I think Willow Bark was one of the herbs.

    I wanted to share this with you before and kept forgetting. Once you are good to go ahead again, I would find a PT or trainer who can teach you how to strengthen your back muscles. Learning this has saved me from more damage a lot sooner.

    One quick example - when I get up from sitting, laying etc., I focus on my belly button and suck it in BUT don't suck in my breath (as that defeats the purpose)and in my mind picture trying to get my belly button to come out of my back (visually that is lol. When I started this I could hardly do it but now my muscles in my stomach are strong as well as my back muscles are, so now I am able to use my muscles more then my spine to get myself up right.

    Make sense?
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
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  • how has your progress been? i've had a herniated disc for 7 years and i was doing nothing when i got it. 
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