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Herniated, Bulged Disc

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Herniated, Bulged Disc

Old 08-27-16, 12:10 PM
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Herniated, Bulged Disc

I have been off the bike 6 plus weeks, had MRI 2 weeks ago showing Bulged disc at L4-5 and Herniated at L5 S1. I have started Therapy and trying to hold off on an injection to see if Therapy can start to ease pain.
Like to hear from others who have gone through this.
How successful was your come back
Did therapy get you there if so how long was your recovery.
Did you opt for surgery if so how did that work out.
Are you back to where you were pre back issue.
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Old 08-27-16, 12:45 PM
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I had a slight bulge at L5/S1 and strained lower back muscles back in the middle of June (which I made a lot worse). See, it originated around Memorial weekend in May when I was hitting golf balls at the local driving range. I nailed a 4-iron shot off the astroturf mat, straight out to 200 yards, and used everything I had in me. 100% full power, full swing, twisting my body around, torquing my body, etc... and right after the shot, I came back around with my follow-through, and I swear.... Somebody stabbed me with a knife, right in my lower back right at my belt loop!!! To make matters worse, dummy me didn't listen to my body, and I continued hitting golf balls. Duh!!!

My lower back was screaming at me for weeks afterwards. But again, did I listen? No... To make matters EXTREMELY WORSE... In mid June, I attended my Masonic Lodge's blood drive, and donated a pint of blood as I normally do. But right afterwards, being a pint low, I continued on without taking it easy for a few days. The next day, I went out on a 27 mile bicycle ride. The day after that, I went jogging 3.1 miles (5K) all while still being a pint low. I had horrible cramps and pain shooting down my right hip during the jog, that half way through, I was thinking of stopping and walking back, but stupidly, I somehow ignored it, and limp/jogged the remainder of the way back. The next day after that, I couldn't even move. I couldn't bend down to put on my socks and shoes! I was in such pain... My wife helped get me into the car and we went to the doctor where they did an x-ray and saw the slight bulge at L5/S1 and then basically sternly lectured me on not being such an idiot with my body. I seriously overdid it, got my body dehydrated, and almost destroyed my back. My blood work even showed an increase in CPK (Creatinine...something...) which means, that my muscles and tendons were seriously overworked, and the bulging disk was the icing on the cake. I was ordered to take it easy and no bike riding, no jogging, no walking my dog, no anything... for an entire month. Then, ever so slowly, go for a short walk, like 1/2 a mile. Come back a month later and they'll double check with an x-ray, and see if things subsided.

I ever so slowly worked my way back with short walks, but no long bike rides. I am still forbidden from jogging and playing golf, and won't be able to do anything like that until as early as this upcoming fall.

No mountain biking (which I don't do anymore, so that's not an issue), but the doc did tell me that I can go back out on my old Fuji road bike and use the lower drops to carefully stretch out my back. At the first sign of pain or tingling in my right leg and hip, stop immediately and slowly go back home. So far, so good (knock on wood!), I am not experiencing that awful numbness and tingling sensation anymore. But due to my bulged disc, it's going to be a while before I can go jogging and playing golf again.
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Old 08-27-16, 01:27 PM
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I've got the same problem...mine is on the left side. It is only slightly sore when I walk. I have to keep a pillow between my knees to sleep and sitting is very uncomfortable after a short time. Standing up after sitting is excruciating and takes time to get fully upright from hip to knee. But I found that riding my bike is very comfortable. I don't know why as I've been told it should make it worse. It probably depends on where the nerve is being pinched in my back.


I've gone to a chiropractor 3x with 1 visit to go until we determine if I need an mri/xray. I told him I want to ride my bike and explained that it isn't a Walmart bike and that it was fitted to me at the bike shop. After promising to stay off the rough trails until we get me straightened out, he grudgingly gave permission and told me to take it easy, which I am. I'm road riding my MB but it feels good, both mentally and physically to ride.


On the plus side, it pushed me to get a road bike which I had been seriously considering anyway before this happened. Keeping my MB too because I just love the trails. Best of both worlds! Now...have you tried riding since your back started bothering you? If it feels better or doesn't bother your back, explain it to your doctor. Exercise helps us with this...and I don't know about you but if I'm not riding, I'm not getting much exercise since I can no longer jog.


Get better soon! Got a lot of riding to get done with Fall right around the corner!


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Old 08-27-16, 02:51 PM
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I have lumbar spinal stenosis and the injections are a life saver. My spine doc is a cyclist and said my road bikes are great for my back. Leaning over the handlebars stretches out the lower spine and relieves the pressure and discomfort.
He also recommended an inversion table.
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Old 08-27-16, 03:00 PM
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Had a similar diagnosis about 35 years ago - herniated disc at L4-L5. Had sciatic pain down my left leg which sometimes got so bad I could hardly get around. Bicycling actually seemed to cause me less problems than walking or driving. Eventually had a week of complete bed rest followed by an exercise program which helped considerably. My orthopedist had no issue with my cycling and even signed up on my fundraiser form for a century ride the week after the bed rest regime. Haven't had any serious recurring issues since then but do immediately take note of any back twinges and take it easy while resuming the exercises. Still have a bit of numbness on the outer edge of my left foot but it's not bothersome.
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Old 08-27-16, 03:08 PM
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Unfortunately riding aggravates it, I was riding for the first couple weeks every other day and that just pissed it off. I have ridden the trainer with no resistance but even that seems to bother it some.
I get the knife stuck in my right cheek upon standing if I sit very long. Walking does not seem to bother it so I have been walking every day, patience is what I keep hearing I'm trying but it is not something I am very good at. I told my chiro and therapist just give me the magic exercise so I can do it all day long and get better in a week. I think most of us can be are own worst enemy I want to push through it but in this case probably not the best idea.
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Old 08-28-16, 07:52 AM
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Had the l5 problem years ago went through steps of therapy etc and finally had surgery it was the best thing I ever did. I don't know what todays docs do but this worked out great for me. They did put me on a excersize program which I was supposed to stay on forever I stayed on it for about 5 months! would have been better to stick with it as my lower back would be stronger today. Really no problems since.
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Old 08-28-16, 07:59 AM
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Have had the problem for 60,000 miles.

The forward lean on a road bike helped strengthen my core.

Just recently tried Vitamin B-12 The pain left the next day...

Yay.
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Old 08-28-16, 11:10 AM
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About a dozen years ago, my lower back pain worsened until I awoke one night with a fiery pain shooting down my right leg to my middle toe that wouldn't go away. Worst pain I've ever experienced. Xrays showed nothing, but MRI showed a herniated lumbar disc (L4 or L5, can't remember). Neurosurgeon advised trying PT and then call him if I wanted surgery.

It took a few weeks of intensive therapy to move the pain up the leg to the hip, to my back and finally to subside. I never fully got feeling back in my foot. I have been able to keep the bulge in place by periodic exercises whenever I notice pain starting to return. I was off the bike for a few weeks, but soon was able to ease back into road riding and eventually mountain biking. I found that the more I ride my road bikes, the better my back gets. I now ride for hours on dirt/gravel roads without back pain.
YMMV.
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Old 08-29-16, 08:52 AM
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I'm part of the camp who's back pain is helped by regular riding. When constant rain and threat of rain and other obligations keep me off the bicycle for more than a week, my back starts feeling it.
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Old 08-29-16, 10:24 AM
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Same here... There is something about riding a road bike and stretching out. I went out yesterday for a nice 20 mile ride and was perfectly fine. It felt great!

Regarding lower back pain at L5/S1 and that sciatic tingly sensation... I might not be able to blast a golf ball 275 yards off the tee anymore (right now, if I tried a full powered swing with my driver - I'd be in traction! ), and I might not be able to run a 10K, but eventually I will. For now, I focus on riding my old Fuji and increasing my speed and endurance.
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Old 08-29-16, 04:12 PM
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Riding the bike in the past had always helped with my stiff back as well. But where I am at right now any pushing of any kind triggers the knife being stuck in my right cheek feeling. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will not be doing cross this season and am hoping to at least be able to get back on the bike before end of the year start building up what I have lost. I'm glad to see some have had the herniated disc without surgery and are riding again that is what I am hoping for. My problem is as soon as I see progress with the exercises I push a little more and wake up the next day regretting it, and that is not even on the bike yet.
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Old 08-29-16, 07:38 PM
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I'm hoping some localized therapy will help my neck pain from a splintered C2 vertebrae. I can manage rides up to 40-60 miles now but pay for it later with needing a day or two off. Any maybe that's unavoidable. But NSAIDs aren't helping much anymore, I'd rather avoid prescription pain meds that make me a bit drowsy, and localized heat/cold treatments help only for a little while. For now I'm riding in a more upright position to minimize the neck strain.
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Old 08-30-16, 09:07 AM
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Surgery should be a last resort (not unusual for surgery to NOT solve the original problem and create new ones).
Surgery tends to be most effective where pain radiates down the leg (makes it more obvious "exactly" which nerve root and spine branch is the culprit).
Exhaust all other options first. PT has worked for me reasonably well. Local injections can give temporary relief --but are more useful to help diagnose where the problem is.

My issue (yours will be different):
I had two simultaneous issues that confused diagnosis. Three times I was recommended surgery. All three times would have been wrong. With numerous injections we ultimately discovered the main problem was facet joint based. This made "arched back" type exercises impossible (irritated facets to unbearable pain). We ultimately did facet rhizotomys to fix one issue. After that my disk bulging issues responded nicely to physical therapy and chiropractic. I can now play 36 holes and walk and carry. I can also do 100 mile rides. Not bad for a 63 yr old. (But I also avoid lifting and prolonged sitting because they both cause back pain to return)

Last edited by dbg; 08-30-16 at 01:21 PM.
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Old 08-30-16, 10:00 AM
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Had a bulged disc, L5, when I was in my late twenties, back packing garbageman. I was put on motrin 800 and muscle relaxers. What a mess. Ended up with ulcers and continued pain. They finally approved an injection and it was like a miracle. Warm rush and immediate loss of pain. I still have times of sciatic type nerve issues, but only for short periods. Good luck...
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Old 08-31-16, 10:32 AM
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I had severe sciatica back in 1993. Finally got to the point that I couldn't stand. Had surgery and it completely fixed it. 23 years later and still no problems. While I am not recommending surgery, I know first hand that it can be successful. If you do opt for surgery, just make sure you get a good cutter.
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Old 09-01-16, 09:39 AM
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Thanks I do not want to opt for anything but therapy at this point, but it is encouraging to hear people who have had successful results with all options
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Old 09-01-16, 10:54 AM
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I herniated L4/L5, opted for the microdiscectomy outpatient procedure.

did some fairly aggressive PT (did the exercises often, not just when at the clinic) and was riding again in only a few weeks.

wasn't a huge deal.
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Old 09-02-16, 06:21 PM
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My bike has always been my therapy for my back pain I've lived with everyday for 20 plus years after being hit by a car, and lately with the Sciatica acting up it hasn't let me down. When it gets real rough I pull out my TT bike instead of the road bike. I wish you all the best and research and talk to different doctors before you decide which direction is best for you to take.
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Old 09-02-16, 09:28 PM
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The MRI reader said lumbar stenosis, arthritic facets, one broken/collapsed vertabra, thin discs, one bulging. Back pain. I got the MRI after hearing stuff rip loose in my back while Alpine skiing. Interestingly the MRI reader only saw the usual stuff, not the soft tissue injury.

The bike is also my best doctor. Standard road position. Riding really helps. I work it until it hurts, rest it, work it again. So far so good. I also go the gym twice a week and work my back hard.

I'd be interested to hear what PT exercises were recommended to others and what worked best.
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Old 09-03-16, 02:01 PM
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Inversion works for me.

I have used an inversion table for years. Now and then, I get a back pain at L3/L4 and the inversion relieves it immediately and for several days. Takes only a few minutes and I don't have to hang all the way upside down.

Recently I've had abdominal and thoracic surgery for several cancers and have been forbidden to use the inversion table. (I am not allowed to ride my bike either but I do, in moderation.) The back pain has returned and I have to live with it.

I've tried lying flat in a yoga back relaxation exercise and it works somewhat. There's a book called Yoga Back Book worth a read.
https://play.google.com/store/books/...d=LevCQYFvzcMC

Here are some other gadgets. Top 10 Best Back Pain Relief Products That Really Work | Back Pain Health Center

Nothing I've tried works as well, quickly and long as the inversion table.
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Old 09-05-16, 09:43 AM
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Stick to road riding. If your roads aren't the smoothest, consider a suspension seatpost. What you don't need is your spine having to deal with constant vibrations and shocks. An inversion table is also highly recommended. Strong abdominal muscles are a great help to your back on the bike (well, they're a great help to your back period).
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Old 09-05-16, 09:47 AM
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Old 09-05-16, 02:28 PM
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Been there done that, L 4 and 5, the battle of the bulge It was, much pain, long ago

I refused surgery, I treated myself with stretching, Yoga, Core strengthening and hydration.

IF your back Is weak you MUST strengthen your Abs, obliques, chest, legs,,every thing actually.
you got to really get after It.
Oh and throw the recliner and the TV out.... You need to become a vertical creature for a time..


I was ok after a year, after 10 years It never hapend.... But I'm sure I could set it off If I did something stupid.

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Old 09-05-16, 04:24 PM
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Not herniated or bulged but i do have a pinched nerve and it hurts like the dickens. The chiro said no bike until i felt 100%..I thought I did this weekend so i braved 3 rides. The 3rd one over did it and im paying for it.

Id say go slow and steady.
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