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Herniated L5-S1 Disk -- how long to recover?
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justingordon



Joined: 04 May 2002
Posts: 148

PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 10:00 pm    Post subject: Herniated L5-S1 Disk -- how long to recover? Reply with quote

Any windsurfers out there know about long it takes to recover from a badly herniated L5-S1 disk. I've got an approximately 9mm herniation according to the MRI. When the back specialist at Kaiser, Dr Teoh, told me that I can have surgery if I want it, I freaked out and started taking recovery exercises very seriously. I was having such bad sciatica pain that I could barely walk. The injury may have been caused from lifting heavy objects and other construction stuff during the building of my B&B project, Sugar Ranch. Or it could have simply happened from many years of wear and tear. If you've ever had severe sciatica, you know how bad the pain can be. It totally knocks you out!

Now, I'm on a daily routine of swimming in the ocean behind my house for 45 minutes (even today with a high surf advisory and crazy choppy water), inverting twice a day on a Teeter for 10-15 min, and doing the McKenzie technique about 6 times a day, and then walking for 45 minutes. Yes, this is a crazy amount to do, but I've managed to get off the anti-inflammatories and I'm hopeful to avoid surgery.

Any other exerices with this? Any idea if windsurfing will tend to aggravate this injury?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Aloha,

Justin
http://www.sugarranchmaui.com
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cgoudie1



Joined: 10 Apr 2006
Posts: 2249
Location: Killer Sturgeon Cove

PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2010 10:15 am    Post subject: Re: Herniated L5-S1 Disk -- how long to recover? Reply with quote

I know how long it takes to recover from the associated discectomy and ultimately fusion. About 6 Months on the discectomy/lamanotomy. for me that worked for about 10 years, then fusion, that took a good 9 Months
and lasted about 15 years. You should know that the success rate of the surgeries is about the same as waiting for the thing to heal up on it's own (60%).
From here on out though, you'll want to skip heavy lifting of any kind
forever. You'll also want to strengthen your core as much as possible,
while stretching your hamstrings and quads. If you can live without
anti-inflammatories, you're well on your way to recovery without surgery.
If you haven't lost your ankle or knee reflexes, and you can still pull
your foot up against resistance, you're not ready for surgery. Usually
the recovery without surgery is about the same as with it (so figure
6 months). I have always found the Windsurfing part of windsurfing to be
a benefit to my back, but the gear schlepping and rigging a real detriment.
Wishing you much good luck.

-Craig




justingordon wrote:
Any windsurfers out there know about long it takes to recover from a badly herniated L5-S1 disk. I've got an approximately 9mm herniation according to the MRI. When the back specialist at Kaiser, Dr Teoh, told me that I can have surgery if I want it, I freaked out and started taking recovery exercises very seriously. I was having such bad sciatica pain that I could barely walk. The injury may have been caused from lifting heavy objects and other construction stuff during the building of my B&B project, Sugar Ranch. Or it could have simply happened from many years of wear and tear. If you've ever had severe sciatica, you know how bad the pain can be. It totally knocks you out!

Now, I'm on a daily routine of swimming in the ocean behind my house for 45 minutes (even today with a high surf advisory and crazy choppy water), inverting twice a day on a Teeter for 10-15 min, and doing the McKenzie technique about 6 times a day, and then walking for 45 minutes. Yes, this is a crazy amount to do, but I've managed to get off the anti-inflammatories and I'm hopeful to avoid surgery.

Any other exerices with this? Any idea if windsurfing will tend to aggravate this injury?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Aloha,

Justin
http://www.sugarranchmaui.com
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capetonian



Joined: 11 Aug 2006
Posts: 1099
Location: Florida

PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2010 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I herniated the disc between L5-S1 about 15 years ago. Tried swimming, inverting, physical therapy, accupuncture, pretty much everything I could except surgery. It seemed like any relief I got was always temporary. Eventually I found that keeping my hamstrings very flexible and taking large singe doses of anti-inflammatories at the onset of a pain event helped. But I think the passage of time was also part of that. No easy solutions.

Now I am doing most things I was doing before I herniated the disc. Windsurfing sometimes aggravates my back, but most of the time it doesn't. Downhauling sails seems to be the worst.
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carl



Joined: 25 Feb 1997
Posts: 2652
Location: SF bay area

PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

capetonian wrote:
Downhauling sails seems to be the worst.


I use the Chinook crank for downhauling. You don't even have to get on the ground anymore. My back loves it, no more back strain even with big sails.
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 19215

PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Craig implies, surgery is a last resort. MRIs are like whole body scans in that both show anomalies that are just that ... anomalies ... not worthy of medical attention. Most lower backs, especially discs, look scary on MRIs, even when no symptoms (i.e., no problems) exist. Countless unnecessary surgeries result.

You obviously have a real problem, but that doesn't by itself mean surgery is advisable. Many surgeons don't appreciate how much physical therapy (e.g., PT, massage therapy) can do for musculoskeletal problems, and many athletes don't appreciate how much difference core strength makes in everything from wrestling to putting on our socks. I'm not talking situps or crunches; those are for aesthetics, not function. I suggest asking your doctor for his approval and referral for PT consultation to see whether PT aimed at core strength development can safely help. They will draw on a variety of exercises including Pilates, exercise balls, elastic bands, etc. to strengthen the functional core muscles deep beneath your abs, in the hopes this will mitigate your pain and ultimately control symptoms fairly well.

If an orthopod you trust believes in PT and therapeutic massage in general but says your injury is too severe for it, s/he may be right. However, if s/he is one of the idiots who say PT and therapeutic massage are generally useless, RUN to a good orthopod.

Mike \m/
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NickB



Joined: 30 Jun 2009
Posts: 510
Location: Alameda, CA

PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

capetonian wrote:
Downhauling sails seems to be the worst.


Rig winch, only safe way to go for weaker backs.
http://www.chinooksailing.com/products/index.php?cPath=6_66

Additionally, perform warm-up routine prior to getting into your wet suit Wink


Last edited by NickB on Wed Mar 31, 2010 1:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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cannon



Joined: 12 May 1999
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Had a micro discectomy of L5-S1 in Feb 2009. In about a one week period I went from having some basic on going pain issues down the leg, but nothing too serious, to flat out I can't do anything pain and foot drop of the left foot. Had the surgery two weeks later taking care of the physical pain, but have had lingering nerve issues for about 11 months and continue to have a weak foot. If you're at the slight pain in the ass stage now, get on it with the PT. Everyone's going to be different, but in my case, surgery was the answer, so don't dismiss it. I was back sailing in August, but taking it pretty easy. Had a few spills where I was happy to see I could still move the legs, you'll feel fragile for quite a while. This year, I just picked up a seat harness to see if that helps, but with the waist I would get pretty sore after about an hour or sailing multiple days in a row. I recommend some Alieve before the session, and a beer never hurts. Still haven't convinced my wife to carry all the gear, but she's been great and now a much better rigger than I.
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WindsurferWil



Joined: 06 Aug 2001
Posts: 0

PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2010 2:37 pm    Post subject: Back Injury Reply with quote

Justin,

I hope you have a quick recovery. I just broke my leg and ankle and am going to miss most of this season.

Try fish oil capsules, they are an excellent anti-inflamatory.

Your new place in Maui is awesome, I'll look forward to booking a room sometime in the future,

Good luck with your recovery,

Will
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spider



Joined: 19 Sep 1996
Posts: 69

PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yoga.
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jse



Joined: 17 Apr 1995
Posts: 1372
Location: Maui

PostPosted: Wed Mar 31, 2010 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

isobars wrote:
Many surgeons don't appreciate how much physical therapy (e.g., PT, massage therapy) can do for musculoskeletal problems, and many athletes don't appreciate how much difference core strength makes in everything from wrestling to putting on our socks. I'm not talking situps or crunches; those are for aesthetics, not function. I suggest asking your doctor for his approval and referral for PT consultation to see whether PT aimed at core strength development can safely help. They will draw on a variety of exercises including Pilates, exercise balls, elastic bands, etc. to strengthen the functional core muscles deep beneath your abs, in the hopes this will mitigate your pain and ultimately control symptoms fairly well.

If an orthopod you trust believes in PT and therapeutic massage in general but says your injury is too severe for it, s/he may be right. However, if s/he is one of the idiots who say PT and therapeutic massage are generally useless, RUN to a good orthopod.

Mike \m/


What he said.

My experience with back injuries is that all a doctor is good for is getting a prescription to PT. At the time (20+ years ago) I did the math and figured out my PT was probably earning 12 bucks an hour. But worth 20 times that for what they know and their ability to treat you.

You might also look into things like Aston Patterning, Feldenkrais, and if you have a good yoga instructor you can trust, that too.

Good luck. The best remedy is education. Learn your body and react on time and you can be free of pain for the most part.

Steve
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