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  1. #1
    Get A Life - Get A Bike cheeseflavor's Avatar
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    Ouch! Back and Leg woes

    After haveing what, for me, has been an incredible summer on the bike. 2000mi in the last three months alone.... I have just contracted ssome sort of miserable back ailment. Not like the kind that I've been dealing with all my life - you know, the ones where you injure a muscle and the cramps cause you to flop like a fish out of water. No no.. this time its in the nerves of my lower spine. The symtoms are excruciating pain unless Im sitting or laying just right. Walking is out of the question. My left leg is numb at least half the time, and tingling and aching the rest of the time. That's the bad news.

    The good news is that it doesn't appear to stop me from riding our usual 20-30m nightly rides. Strange as it seems, the position of sitting on a road bike offers some relief from the pain.

    Now, could I be doing myself harm by biking with an injured back? My riding partner (my beloved Wife, Linda) thinks I'm crazy, that I need to rest it... But I love riding dammit. And it really doesn't cause me pain.

    Anyone have a similar situation to report? How did you handle it?

    Thanks,

    Steve

  2. #2
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Similar problem to you, that occurs at various times of the year, normally after a great deal of physical inactivity in the office when I am tied to my chair for prolongued periods. Get a doctor to diagnose and hopefully treat, but get it done. Like you, bike riding is not affected, and in fact stretched out on the bike is one of the few comfortable positions for me. Mine is a compressed disc by the way, and does not improve by sitting down or severe bending to do the gardening. Get back on the bike and get some relief, if only for a few hours.

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    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Check with the doc first. Doc may refer you to a physical therapist, which can provide tremendous relief.

    If he/she okays it, do some back strengthening exercises.

    I belong to a gym and use a machine like this. It does wonders for my lower back.



    Or, lie on your tummy and lift you head/shoulders and legs/feet at the same time.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  4. #4
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheeseflavor
    .... I have just contracted ssome sort of miserable back ailment. Not like the kind that I've been dealing with all my life - you know, the ones where you injure a muscle and the cramps cause you to flop like a fish out of water. No no.. this time its in the nerves of my lower spine. The symtoms are excruciating pain unless Im sitting or laying just right. Walking is out of the question. My left leg is numb at least half the time, and tingling and aching the rest of the time. That's the bad news.
    The good news is that it doesn't appear to stop me from riding our usual 20-30m nightly rides. Strange as it seems, the position of sitting on a road bike offers some relief from the pain.
    Now, could I be doing myself harm by biking with an injured back? My riding partner (my beloved Wife, Linda) thinks I'm crazy, that I need to rest it... But I love riding dammit. And it really doesn't cause me pain.
    Anyone have a similar situation to report? How did you handle it?
    Thanks,
    Steve
    could be any number of things. You should have it check'd out, however you have things check'd out...

    my tale - at 28, I overdid the training/riding, was still racing almost every weekend from April thru early October - Cat 1-2 crits, road and Track on Friday nites.
    round about July I got knocked off my feet by excurtiating pain in my lower back and down the backside of my left leg. I tried to 'stretch' it out over the course of a week or so, with easy riding and some 'rest' - WRONG!
    After it became more aggravated, I went to a number of MDs, the 4th in the long line finally diagnosed it as a damaged sciatic nerve. By that point I could barely walk, not sleep, was in agony.
    Doc says that by actually continuing use I had partially 'stripped' the myelin sheath off the sciatic nerve in the area where a number of internal muscles pass around the nerve in the hip/lower back area. The initial problem was that these muscles had gone into spasm around the nerve and was the same as if 'insulation' had been stripped off a electrical wire by pliers/strippers (the muscles). I was on my back motionless for more than 3 weeks, then another 5 months of limited movement till the nerve reparied itself. The Doc prescribed 'Motrin' (2000mg/day) which was still regulated at that time - '77.
    This all came about because the muscles 'spasmed' , which was due to 3 partially herniated disks I had (still have) due to prior sports injuries.
    I still get the same 'condition' ocassionally, every 3 years or so, but now I know what to do. Complete 'On MY Back' rest for about 4-5 days, 1600 mg of Ibuprofen /day - with lotsa water to flush the kidneys. Then slow and easy back to full use over a 2-3 week period as the muscles relax. I also have to pay particular attention to the general musculature of the torso and not let anyhting get out of 'balance' - particularly, if I don;t pay attention to maintaining strong adominal muscles, I get an 'attack'.

    Quite likely you're condition is not the same - but what I'm sayin is, have it check'd ASAP, you could be doin further damage and not know it.

  5. #5
    Get A Life - Get A Bike cheeseflavor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam
    Similar problem to you, that occurs at various times of the year, normally after a great deal of physical inactivity in the office when I am tied to my chair for prolongued periods. Get a doctor to diagnose and hopefully treat, but get it done. Like you, bike riding is not affected, and in fact stretched out on the bike is one of the few comfortable positions for me. Mine is a compressed disc by the way, and does not improve by sitting down or severe bending to do the gardening. Get back on the bike and get some relief, if only for a few hours.
    Went to the doc, he says it's probably an aggravated nerve. Put me on steroids, muscle relaxers and hydrocodone. He didn't say not to ride, so I took a couple of days off, and we did 25 miles tonight. I still can't stand or walk, and my leg's numb, but I can actually forget about my back for the time we're on the bike. Then I ice up for a bit when I get done.

    I don't drink or do recreational drugs anymore, so it was kinda fun whizzing along at 25 mph with a minor buzz on too There's really nothing like a quiet bike on a quiet backroad with fresh pavement.

    Aaahhhhh.....

    Steve

  6. #6
    Get A Life - Get A Bike cheeseflavor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox
    Check with the doc first. Doc may refer you to a physical therapist, which can provide tremendous relief.

    If he/she okays it, do some back strengthening exercises.

    I belong to a gym and use a machine like this. It does wonders for my lower back.

    Or, lie on your tummy and lift you head/shoulders and legs/feet at the same time.
    Hi DenvrFox. I've been fighting the back for about 25 years. So, I do (not as religiously as I should) a series of exercises to strengthen the back. For the most part it works ok, but this time was different. I've never had the numbness in the leg before.

    Does that machine cause any discomfort when your back is bothering you?

    Take care,

    Steve

  7. #7
    Get A Life - Get A Bike cheeseflavor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezen
    could be any number of things. You should have it check'd out, however you have things check'd out...

    Quite likely you're condition is not the same - but what I'm sayin is, have it check'd ASAP, you could be doin further damage and not know it.
    Good advice! I'm keeping an eye on it. In the meantime, I'm laying off the bowflex, taking some time off of work and not hammering quite as hard on the road.

    Take care!

    Steve

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    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    I have pain and problems with my neck. Like you, when I ride, especially when the ride involves longer time period and higher speed my pain goes away. On the advice of my doctor, I recently started seeing a physical therapist. I explained the situation to the therapist. He stated the pain is releived because my body temperature is elevated, spinal fluid is flowing faster, and my endorfin level is elevated. My cycling activities are restricted by both my physician and therapist. NO cycling using a turndown handlebar Road Bike and no riding my mountain bike on a mountain bike trail. I am reduced to riding a mountain bike, (with front suspension) on the street or smooth path. It's a bummer, but there are worse problems so I'll deal with it. I strongly recommend you find out what problem you're dealing with. If it is neurologic, you could be severly damaging your back by continuing to ride. If it is muscle/skelital like my current problem, therapy can help address the problem to prevent it from becoming more serious. I know, I ignored my symptoms years ago and lost 2 discs in my neck because of it. This time, I wasted no time in seeing a physician when the pain started.
    Roccobike BF Official Thread Terminator

  9. #9
    Senior Member glassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheeseflavor
    After haveing what, for me, has been an incredible summer on the bike. 2000mi in the last three months alone.... I have just contracted ssome sort of miserable back ailment. Not like the kind that I've been dealing with all my life - you know, the ones where you injure a muscle and the cramps cause you to flop like a fish out of water. No no.. this time its in the nerves of my lower spine. The symtoms are excruciating pain unless Im sitting or laying just right. Walking is out of the question. My left leg is numb at least half the time, and tingling and aching the rest of the time. That's the bad news.

    The good news is that it doesn't appear to stop me from riding our usual 20-30m nightly rides. Strange as it seems, the position of sitting on a road bike offers some relief from the pain.

    Now, could I be doing myself harm by biking with an injured back? My riding partner (my beloved Wife, Linda) thinks I'm crazy, that I need to rest it... But I love riding dammit. And it really doesn't cause me pain.

    Anyone have a similar situation to report? How did you handle it?

    Thanks,

    Steve
    2,000 miles in 3 months seems like a lot of riding, I thought I was doing good riding 100-125 miles a week... Glad to hear you will be ok

  10. #10
    Get A Life - Get A Bike cheeseflavor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glassman
    2,000 miles in 3 months seems like a lot of riding, I thought I was doing good riding 100-125 miles a week... Glad to hear you will be ok
    Oops! That should have read 4 months. We average around 125-150/week, sometimes more. Got to remember to proofread *before* hitting send

    Steve

  11. #11
    Get A Life - Get A Bike cheeseflavor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roccobike
    I have pain and problems with my neck. Like you, when I ride, especially when the ride involves longer time period and higher speed my pain goes away. On the advice of my doctor, I recently started seeing a physical therapist. I explained the situation to the therapist. He stated the pain is releived because my body temperature is elevated, spinal fluid is flowing faster, and my endorfin level is elevated. My cycling activities are restricted by both my physician and therapist. NO cycling using a turndown handlebar Road Bike and no riding my mountain bike on a mountain bike trail. I am reduced to riding a mountain bike, (with front suspension) on the street or smooth path. It's a bummer, but there are worse problems so I'll deal with it. I strongly recommend you find out what problem you're dealing with. If it is neurologic, you could be severly damaging your back by continuing to ride. If it is muscle/skelital like my current problem, therapy can help address the problem to prevent it from becoming more serious. I know, I ignored my symptoms years ago and lost 2 discs in my neck because of it. This time, I wasted no time in seeing a physician when the pain started.
    Thanks for the advice. I'm taking it seriously, and will followup with the doc if it doesn't get better soon.

    Take care,

    Steve

  12. #12
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheeseflavor
    Went to the doc, he says it's probably an aggravated nerve. Put me on steroids, muscle relaxers and hydrocodone. He didn't say not to ride, so I took a couple of days off, and we did 25 miles tonight. I still can't stand or walk, and my leg's numb, but I can actually forget about my back for the time we're on the bike. Then I ice up for a bit when I get done.

    Steve
    Fook Steroids, better off burning your leg off! How to create a worse problem from a serious one to start.
    And then ****can that Quack!
    Hydrocodone on top of that? It does nothing of any beneficial nature, pure masking of pain, which you can avoid by not aggarvating the condition. If its that bad that you need the narcotics, then it deserves more attention than you're givin it.
    Get a grip. A few weeks of full attention to the condition and maybe even off the exercise is a small price for what could be life-affecting.

    Now I'll apologize for the rant and back off. But I'm not sure there's awareness of the possible implications. I was a bulletproof 28 and reduced to total incapacity. Doc said if I had not reacted and stopped when I did I would have gone through years of pain and questionable recovery, because of further damage to the nerve.
    Nerve disorders and damage are not like a broken bone - nothing doctors can really do of any susbstance beyond what your body might do to affect any repair.
    But, hey, it's your nickel

  13. #13
    Get A Life - Get A Bike cheeseflavor's Avatar
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    Got word from the doc today that I have a "large herniation" and he's referring me to a neurosurgeon. Depending on what he says, I'll make a decision to live with it or let them cut. Not what I wanted to hear, but on the upside, everything I've read says that excersizing is good and to not be sedentary when treating an injury like this, which is a good thing, because we're still biking 25mi/day on average 5-6 times a week.

    Anyone else had this type of surgery and continued biking while recovering?

    Steve

  14. #14
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    I had a back problem about 2 years ago that was initiated by helping someone move.
    I had excruciating pain in my right leg, probably the worst pain that I've every had in my life. My right leg was numb from the knee down on the left side. The doctor immediately had to prescribe narcotics because of my pain.
    I went to a neurologist who did all sorts of tests and basically did nothing to help me. The neurologist told me I wouldn't be able to run again. It turns out that I had 2 bulging disks in my lower back. I reluctantly decided to try a chiropractor and after a couple of visits I noticed that the pain was subsiding. The bulging disks seemed to have healed themselves.
    I did some research and decided to get an Inversion table. I have been using it ever since and have not experience any more back or leg problems. I have also been running since then and have not had the back problem resurface.
    Here's a photo of the Teeter Hangups Inversion Table.
    Last edited by peterjcb; 09-22-05 at 08:30 PM.
    Peter

  15. #15
    JRF
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheeseflavor
    Got word from the doc today that I have a "large herniation"
    I had a large herniation and two bulging disks from bad posture while sitting and throwing my kids in the pool (twisting motion). I was referred to a surgeon. He said that it he did not think physical therapy would work in this case but he was conservative and wanted me to try anyway. About the same time, a friend with a similar problem loaned me a book "Treat Your Own Back" by McKenzie. The Physical therapist had me doing the same stretching exercises as in the book. The book claims 10 days of this will fix any disk problem. I felt no improvement for three weeks. Then, suddenly improvement. After 4 weeks all pain in my leg and butt were gone.

    That was 9 years ago. Now I do the exercises about once a week. I have not had a problem since. I play tennis more than ever which is not good for your back. But, walking and riding are good as long as you keep good posture. Never bend forward without support. Never sit without strong lumbar support (the book tries to sell you theirs).

    I would highly recommend doing the physical therapy and not consider surgery unless you get no relief after a month. I did the exercises five times a day for a month and then started cutting back after the pain disappeared. There is another thread on this you might check out.
    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by JRF
    Now I do the exercises about once a week. I have not had a problem since.
    John, I agree with you 100%. Regular back excersize can work wonders in keeping your back healthy. I try to remember to do them a few times a week.
    Peter

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    14 years ago I had surgery on my L4-L5
    Seems that the disk was brittle and a good bendover with turning motion fragmented the disk.
    Yes the leg hurt, yes it was numb, yes it took ahwile to realize I needed to get it fixed. Just didn't want to hear it. The year before we had just bought new bikes and I was addicted to this new (old) sport.

    A piece of the disk was rubbing against the nerve and had rubbed off the protective coating. The surgeon said nerves are usually gray mine was red. Ouch!

    Had the surgery in late Feb and after 10 weeks of healing and physical therapy on my back, needed to regrow nerve coating. The back has been great since!. In the 14 years since, I have needed to see a chiropactor only 1 time, we ski and bike a lot and my back is even better than before the surgery.

    It's scary but you can be rebuilt and be better than you were!
    Good Luck

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    What you have sounds a great deal like sciatica. This isn't any fun and it is likely that your riding is agravating it. You'll likely have to take a couple of weeks off of riding while it heals regardless of what a doctor tells you while prescribing pills.

    http://www.spine-health.com/topics/cd/sciatica.html

  19. #19
    Get A Life - Get A Bike cheeseflavor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterjcb
    Here's a photo of the Teeter Hangups Inversion Table.
    I'll have to do some reading on one of these! My plan is to do everything I can to avoid surgery. I'll know more after talking to the surgeon, but that will be my last option. I think with excercise and being careful, I'll be able to accomplish that.

    Take care,

    Steve

  20. #20
    Fattest Thin Man Az B's Avatar
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    I've also had back problems for years. Finally it got to be constant and painful enough for me to not do some things that I usually do.

    My doc told me it was a herniated disc, pressing on a nerve. That nerve goes to the leg and made the leg numb. He suggested physical therapy.

    The PT basically put me in traction for 15-20 minutes a visit, as well as using some exercises to strengthen my back.

    I too tried an inversion table and ditched the PT. If you use it regularly, you'll never have the problem again. If the back starts to flare up, get on the table and within 2 or three sessions, the back will be normal again.

    I've also had good luck with one of those inflatable fitness balls. You lie on it face up and sort of roll it from your neck down to your lower back. It feels great and I can hear all the verterbrae popping back into place. This is a little more convenient and cheaper than the inversion table if you want to try it first.

    Az

  21. #21
    Get A Life - Get A Bike cheeseflavor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JRF
    I had a large herniation and two bulging disks from bad posture while sitting and throwing my kids in the pool (twisting motion). I was referred to a surgeon. He said that it he did not think physical therapy would work in this case but he was conservative and wanted me to try anyway. About the same time, a friend with a similar problem loaned me a book "Treat Your Own Back" by McKenzie. The Physical therapist had me doing the same stretching exercises as in the book. The book claims 10 days of this will fix any disk problem. I felt no improvement for three weeks. Then, suddenly improvement. After 4 weeks all pain in my leg and butt were gone.
    Thanks for the recommendation! I've seen this book mentioned elsewhere too.

    Yep, the bad posture and not taking care of my back is probably what's cost me the most. I think I've mentioned in previous posts here that I've had a history of inactivity during my life. First, I've been a IT Manager for the last 11 years, so I've had a lot of desk time. When I started biking a year and a half ago, I was almost at 300lbs. Then, Linda and I purchased bikes and a bowflex, started eating properly and diligently working at improving our health. I'm now down to 205lbs and in much better overall health, but I'm paying for those years of neglect.

    I *think* what did me in this time was doing some french presses with the bowflex. I remember feeling a twinge when I was doing those last time, and I know that I'm not supposed to be lifting over my head anyway. So, I think with a little care, and some rehab, I should be ok withour surgery.

    Thanks for the recommendation, and I'll find that book and read it.

    Steve

  22. #22
    Get A Life - Get A Bike cheeseflavor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TaosWoman
    Had the surgery in late Feb and after 10 weeks of healing and physical therapy on my back, needed to regrow nerve coating. The back has been great since!. In the 14 years since, I have needed to see a chiropactor only 1 time, we ski and bike a lot and my back is even better than before the surgery.
    10 weeks?! Ouch. I understand there are various procedures that are available now that in some cases, are done on an outpatient basis and a person can return to an active life in a matter of days. What were you able to do while recuperating?

    Steve

  23. #23
    Get A Life - Get A Bike cheeseflavor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclintom
    What you have sounds a great deal like sciatica. This isn't any fun and it is likely that your riding is agravating it. You'll likely have to take a couple of weeks off of riding while it heals regardless of what a doctor tells you while prescribing pills.

    http://www.spine-health.com/topics/cd/sciatica.html
    Thanks for the link! Lots of good info. I'm trying to not cease riding, but I am taking it a bit easier on the bike these last couple of weeks. Still logging the miles, but not hammering quite as much. The average is down, but the enjoyment factor is still there. The bike is still the only place where I'm actually pain free. I can forget about the pain (and all my cares) when I'm riding.

    Take care!

    Steve

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    In my case not much, 2 weeks after the surgery carrying a cup of tea was still too heavy. And at that time I was in my late 30's and in great shape. Was hard to drive to work because I had a standard and an 80 mile commute. Thanks to my friends I got by.

    But physical therapy, massage and slow gentle back exercises started bringing it back.
    First time back on the bike I did 1 mile and that was that.

    I had broken the disk into so many small pieces that the surgery took 4 hours...but that was 14 years ago and now we bike in the summer and ski as long as snow is on the mountain. Entirely pain free!

    When I did my research no one who had gone thru the surgery had good things to say. But I know that the procedure has improved and I hope it goes well for you.

  25. #25
    JRF
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheeseflavor
    I've seen this book mentioned elsewhere too
    The main recovery exercise you will find in the book is called the "press up". I see yoga classes doing it all the time. You may want to start doing them now. Lie face down and press your shoulders up as high as you can without your pelvis leaving the ground. Have your wife hold your pelvis down if needed. You get a similar stretching action with the big ball.
    John

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