Encouraging news and some feedback

Discussions relating to Lower Back Pain.
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Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:42 am

Encouraging news and some feedback

Post by EngineerDoug » Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:34 pm

Hello all,

I had a visit with my physical therapist last night, and a good chat with him. I've been seeing him for about a year to help me recover from a mild to moderate L5 protrusion.

Let me start off by suggesting that having the right PT person makes a big difference in the mental aspect of this whole struggle. I really like my therapist because he has had discs go bad as well as several other injuries such as knees, etc. He is a relatively young guy, but is super athletic and perhaps a little too gung-ho. That might explain his past injuries. The point is that he knows personally how these things resolve, and he also related a couple of interesting stories about neck and back patients he has seen recently.

The first one is a friend of his - a massage therapist - who works in an office where there is also a chiropractor. She complained one day of a stiff neck and let him "adjust" her. Well the short story is that he really cranked on her neck and herniated 3 disks! She was able to get to see my PT guy and also my physiatrist in very short order. My physiatrist subjected her to 6 rounds of epidurals and recommended against surgery. By some stroke of luck, she completely recovered within a year. She actually suffered muscle atrophy in one arm because of the herniations, but did not require surgery. I am not here to bash chiropractors, but just wanted to relate this story for what it's worth. I consider it pretty encouraging that she was able to recover without surgery, and that the epidurals actually did more than a "quick fix".

Here's another story. Another friend of my PT guy was an EMT, only 37 years old. He blew out a disc on the job and was referred in a couple of days for a micro-D. Three months later he is back on the job and doing fine. Now the caveat, according to my therapist, is that he will have to be vigilant about keeping his core strong because now he does indeed have a "weak spot". He will also have some leg "buzzing" sensations for 6-12 months because the sciatic nerve was irritated. The wisdom seems to be that if surgery is warranted, it's best to get in there ASAP before the nerve is damaged. So maybe irritated is not the same as damaged, I suppose. The other thing is this guy will have to forego lifting patients into the ambulance if he wants the repair to last. Anyway, sounds like another encouraging story to me.

Lastly, my PT guy related to me one of the most recent studies done on the long term efficacy of various remedies for disc/nerve problems. There are, or course, a lot of details that I don't have, but the upshot was that in general physical therapy + exercise (long term ongoing) provides the best outcome years down the road.

One more tidbit, and this is something that I had suspected based upon my own experience. Many times the worst injury will, if treated appropriately, heal the fastest. Less severe problems can take longer to resolve. That sounds like the story of my life over the last year or so. I can compare my progress to the EMT who totally blew out a disc and say "why am I taking so long to heal?" Maybe this is why.

Anyway, I hope these are tidbits of encouragement for all of us that are working through these injuries. Some days you just have to find a tidbit and run with it to brighten the dark days.


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Joined: Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:00 am

Re: Encouraging news and some feedback

Post by nth_dimension » Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:33 am

Interesting stuff - thanks for posting!

I've been doing pretty well lately. Lots of time on the bike trainer, alternating core with strength workouts every 2 days, and stretching every day.

This is about the most intense I've exercised in the last year and it feels GOOD. I was a serious cyclist and I'm goignt o get back to it. Maybe not race-shape this year, but at least back to normal riding.

Oddly enough, I feel a little in the opposite side today. Muscles balancing out perhaps.

Doug, check out a book called "Back Sense". its pretty good and the central theme is that *most* pain that enters the chronic stage is really propagated by muscle tension brought on by stress and anxiety that is, in turn, fed by inactivity and worry. The prescription they advise is to 1) Get cleared by your doctor, 2) resume exercise and *normal* activity, and 3) work on your mental health.

It sounds kooky (kind of like the Sarno stuff) but there seems to be some logic to it.

Anyway, best of luck and thanks for posting.

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