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L5-S1 disc

Posted: Sun Dec 10, 2006 11:58 am
by RC147
Hi all,

Finally, a place to where I can share my story and vent. Thanks to Dean for providing this website.
My back and sciatica problem started in June '06. In July my GP sent me for a MRI wich showed a herniated disc between L5 and S1. The pain was so severe in my left leg in the mornings, I never felt pain like that before.
I started going to a chiropractor 3 times a week for 3 months. After every treatment there was some relief but the pain always came back the next day. I have been to an orthopedic dr., he gave me meds and sent me to PT for 2 months. They gave me generic exercises, the massage helped some but the pain always came back the next day. The pain meds, muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories has not helped. Only one anti-inflammatory does help take the edge off which is voltaren.
It is a chore just to get in and out of my car, or to sit down or stand up, or get in and out of bed.
Last year in October '05 we were hit by hurricane Wilma. Three counties lost power, water, phones. My mom lost her home which is still in the process of being renovated, so she stays with me.
I can relate to other posts when I read about people having second thoughts about living in this condition. I miss going to the gym, riding my motorcycle, and my social life has changed for the worse, this whole year has been a bust. Yet, I have to try to survive this because I don't want to hurt my family. My mom is stressed out from seeing me like this, not to mention she was just diagnosed with a heart condition. I told her to spend a couple of days at my sisters who is only 10 miles away. At least we live in a warm climate which helps to make getting around easier.
Now I am going for decompression therapy at a chiro's office who has the DRX9000. I have had 17 treatments so far with some minor relief but the pain is still there. I will continue this week and if I do not feel any better I will consider stopping. I am off from work during these treatments. I am wondering if I might have to consider Social Security Disability for this problem.
Anyway, once I stop the therapy I will begin with Deans' RYB book and maybe get an inversion table. I have been to the website HSN for the home shopping network. I searched the word inversion and then read what others have written about the table that they bought. I also saw an infomercial for the BEAN chair, I am wondering if this is just another gadget or can it help stregthen your core muscles.
My GP recommended that I visit a pain managment clinic. I read that the epidural shots not only help to numb the pain but also help to wash away the acids that cause the nerve to be inflamed, but there are always risks and side effects. I am keeping this on the back burner for now.
Sorry for the long post and thanks for letting me share.


Posted: Mon Dec 11, 2006 7:46 am
by randolph
Hello Rick

I'd like to learn more about the BEAN chair; I googled "bean chair" and got nothing in the first 10 pages but stuff on regular, bean-bag chairs, sofas, etc. Is BEAN an acronym? Like you, I'm a bit suspicious of passive, "wonder" gadgets ... we all seem to want something that will cure us while we watch TV and eat popcorn ... but some things DO help (e.g. inversion tables, back belts). So it would be interesting to see something about this therapeutic(?) chair.

Thanks for the in-depth report on the history of your sciatica adventure. I think "adventure" is the right word. In the beginning, it FEELS like a tragedy, but hang in there. You do a few things right ... and you will be able to do those things important to you, again. I'm not so sure about riding motorcycles again (coming down hard on a dirtbike seat - excessive, spinal compression stress - would surely mess you up ... but maybe touring on a big ol' hog?). But who knows how far you can go ... it is largely up to you.

Apparently there is a typical cycle of reactions we go thru when we experience a huge loss (temporary or permanent), and that you are apparently in the middle of right now. That's why we say: this too shall pass. Sounds trite ... but it's real. The order and intensity of the negative emotions we each go thru varies. During the first months of the adventure, we experience lots of fear and confusion, hopelessness, depression, anger. (Brain scientists are discovering this is part of our biological heritage, and actually helps us survive the loss; read the fascinating, even humorous work of Dr. Steven Pinker if you're at all interested in the latest findings about our brains) The silver lining on this whole mess is that you find out who REALLY loves you, and what is REALLY important to you. It's personally rather humiliating to look back on the emotional hell I put my family thru those first months of sciatica, but they hung in there, I learned a lot about forgiveness, and we're coming out the other end of this a stronger, happier family.

My guess is that you'll make it just fine; you've got family who are REALLY important to you; you have an employer whose willing to cut you some slack; and you have that wonderful, Florida climate. And you wouldn't be coming back to this forum if you weren't a survivor, inclined to do things yourself, and not afraid to take risks and learn from your mistakes.

My MRI revealed a similar disc problem at L5-S1 and I experienced the same frustrations with massage, chirpractic, meds. Except I did get good pain relief from naproxen sodium (Aleve), enough to keep from screaming anyway ... and after 5 weeks the pain had subsided enough to sleep. Everybody seems to be different in what med is effective, and how long the pain lasts. Judging from Ken's experience, if the IDD doesn't help you, you might want to consider getting the epidural injections. The challenge with sciatica is, first, getting the pain down so you can then, second, get some help from doing the exercises. It doesn't seem to work the other way around.

Maybe you'll have better luck with the bureaucratic gauntlet that Social Security puts you thru to get disability benefits. Suffice to say, it's not a user-friendly system. An acquaintance had to hire a lawyer to successfully force Social Security to receive disability benefits. Just the kind of thing you want to have to do while recovering from sciatica.

A hint to help reduce the pain while doing the everyday activities of life, like getting out of bed, getting in and out of car, etc. Focus on maintaining a neutral spine. It becomes second nature after a while, but at first, you have to relearn how to do a lot of things WITHOUT flexing forward or twisting. And you ask for help a lot more than you're used to.

Dean has a helpful article on muscle memory and recovering our physical fitness during the back rebuilding process. Reduces the anxiety some, as we watch our hard-earned conditioning evaporate while we can't exercise as much as we used to.

Hope this helps some!!


Posted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 6:40 pm
by RC147
Hi Randolph,

About the Bean chair, I saw the infomercial last week while eating my popcorn, and thier website is It looks pretty interesting to me.
Have you had any experience with the inversion table?

I will be putting my motorcycle up for sale. It is a good touring bike but you still feel the bumps. I would sure miss it but if I ever become more pain free I would not want to have to go through this ever again. I'm not sure if the bike is the culprit to my disc problem but I'm sure it didn't help any.

I'm sure there is truth about how the body reacts according to our emotions which comes from our subconscious dialog. All the negative emotions can make healing take that much longer. This comes from the mind and body being connected I suppose.

I have always been health concsious and a believer in alternative and complentary healing. Ten years ago I was having chest pains that went into the jaw and left arm. The GP sent me for a stress test and they found a blockage in a branch of an artery. The cardiologist wanted me to go for a catheterization. I have heard this local nutritionist on the radio every week. I called him and made an appointment to see him. He is a bio-chemist from Harvard. He talked with me for an hour and a half then he put me on a vitamin and mineral program. I followed the program religiously and as the weeks went by I started feeling an improvement. After a couple of months I was feeling much better and as time went on I was all better. A few years later I was getting chest pains so I was sent for another stress test which showed that everything was normal. The pain was from a strained pectoral muscle.
So here I am again trying to avoid the MD's and heal my own way.
I will look into Dr. Steven Pinker's book.

I was looking for the article on muscle memory and recovering our physical fitness during the back rebuilding process, under Articles in this site but I am having trouble finding it.

As far as the Social Security Disability is concerned it is unfortunate that we have to go through an attorney who is experienced with the governments red tape. They say that they always turn you down the first time around at least. Like you said, it is just some more added stress to go through while having the stess of the back and leg pain.

Thank's for your help and support. Check out


Posted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 10:56 pm
by randolph
Hello Rick

The Bean chair appears to be a variation on the exercise balls that are all the rage now ... with an advantage: the bean chair is stable in one dimension, unlike the spherical ball which is of coarse completely unstable.
The instability of the ball is why doing an exercise, say, pushups with your feet on the ball, is more effective than regular pushups: you're using additional muscles to maintain balance in addition to the usual muscles used in the usual form of the exercise. But this instability of the ball, and perhaps with the Bean chair, makes exercising with them a risky business for those recovering from lower back disorders ... at least initially, until a lot of one's flexibility and strength has been regained. It would seem that the Bean chair would be less risky, being more stable than a ball ... but I'd be cautious using one. Dr Stuart McGill experimented with the effectiveness of the ball and found them a superior exercise aid ... but gave the same cautionary warning to those of us with lower back disorders. Basically the same reason (risk outweighs benefit) that riding a motorbike is not wise, for a while, anyway, until your back is rebuilt. Thanks, Rick, for the web address.

Ken had an inversion table and found using his to provide some pain relief, short and long term. Several of his posts discuss his experiences with one. I regularly hang by the hands from a chinup bar, legs not touching ground, and find it gives a very relaxing stretch ... which I guess you might say is inverted inversion.

Dean recommended a book on the mind/body connection with healing. Can't recall the title, but it's in one of his posts. (can't find that post :oops: anyone remember the book's title/author? I'd like to read it now) Dr. Pinker's book is not directly related to that topic. What I found interesting about his writing, which is unusually readable and humorous for a scientist, is that brain science is discovering that our so-called 'negative' emotions like anger, depression, fear, confusion, that we feel in times of crisis and change, can actually help us adapt to that change and heal. There's more to it than that, but some brain scientists are challenging some long held beliefs about our emotions.

A friend recovered from lymphoma cancer using nutritional therapy. She's a very strong-willed lady ... which gets back to the mind/body connection. The same treatments that worked for her, are ineffective for others. Makes you wonder ... a lot.

Dean's article on muscle memory is buried way down the blog column on the home page. Scroll past the articles on Dr. Barrett, stroke, and knuckle cracking.

It's easy to understand why the Social Security folks have to make it difficult to receive benefits; insurance fraud is no small problem. You just wish those who deserve the benefits didn't have to suffer from the rules designed to prevent fraud by lowlife.


Posted: Wed Dec 13, 2006 2:09 pm
by Admin
Hi guys,

I saw an infomercial about a year ago on the Bean chair and thought at the time that it looked like a good product. It seemed like it would be safer to use than a conventional exercise ball while possibly giving you the benefits of some instability. (Hard to say without actually trying it out.)

It is one of the few products that I would actually like to try someday and the price didn't seem unreasonable.

I would definitely be interested in hearing from anyone who has tried this product and get their reaction to it.

Randolph: The book you're thinking of is Healing Back Pain by Dr. John Sarno. Definitely worth reading.

Rick: The article on "Muscle Memory" was actually a forum post by Mitch that I thought was worth mentioning in the blog.


Posted: Wed Dec 20, 2006 5:33 pm
by RC147
Hi Randolph,

I have been having problem with my computer, so I had to do a quick restore. There are some sites that I go to and then my dsl stops working. I think I will need a new computer sooner or later.

I have an appointment with an attorney to get some information on the social security disability, but I hear that they take a large percentage from the earnings. To tell you the truth I would much rather take a turn for the better and return to work until I can retire.

I switched therapists last week. I was going for the DRX9000 treatments without much success. I found a center closer to where I live, only 4 miles, and they use the Accu-Spina found on the website IDDTherapy.
After seven visits I feel some relief which I hope lasts.

I also started doing some of the RYB exercises plus I also bought an inversion table through Amazon and they offer free shipping which is very good because the thing is heavy and would have cost over $45.00 to ship. Now I need to try to find someone to help me assemble it, it weighs 85 pounds.

I have one of those fitness balls which I use as a chair when in front of the computer. It works well for me for that purpose but after a half an hour I have to get up and move around for a few minutes.

I recieved a phone call from a cousin in California. We talked and he told me about his back surgery eleven years ago. He had very bad sciatica, now he still has some numbness which never went away but the pain went away after his recovery. He also told me about his epidural shots, the second one he had hit a nerve and thats when he went in for the surgery.
He said that I should not let it go to long to prevent nerve damage.

Hope you are continuing to get relief.

Posted: Wed Dec 20, 2006 5:58 pm
by RC147
Hi Dean,

Thanks for the post and your input about the bean chair. I also thought it looked interesting and was wondering if anyone had experience with it. The price does seem reasonable.

I brought the book you mentioned by Dr. Sarno a couple of months ago. I believe in his theory about the emotions and the mind/body connection but then when I was reading the part about his suggestions to stop all therapies, doctors and exercise programs and just work on the emotional part and all the pain will go away I found that hard to swallow.

By the way, I did find the muscle memory post by Mitch and that was interesting.

I have begun the exercises from the RYB book. Very educational material.


Posted: Thu Dec 21, 2006 5:51 am
by randolph
Hello Rick

I just found a copy of one of Dr. Sarno's books ... and am having initial reactions, similar to yours ... but I'm still slogging thru the book.

Stories, like the one you told about your friend with the incorrectly administered epidural, scare me to death (like the stories of docs amputating the wrong leg ... ) and motivate me to do all I can without the aid of doctors. Forums like are full of such horrendous accidents ... but to be fair, I've also met folks who've had successful back surgeries. Some things just ain't black n white.

Who knows, you might be able to get the social security disability benefits without an attorney. What kept me from trying, aside from the complexity of the system, was the requirement that I be off work for a year, and the great possibility that, even with the benefits, I'd still wouldn't be getting near enough to keep the kids from starving to death. So I just used savings while I recuperated ... and was lucky enough to get back to work before the money ran out, and live in a state that helped us out a bit with food stamps.

Another variation on the exercise ball and bean chair, is the inflatable sausage. Wal-mart has various sizes for cheap; mine provided some relief during the days when I couldn't sit very long in a regular chair. Now the kids use it for various things.

Hopefully, you'll get the inversion table assembled ... without any left-over parts. (Jeez, I hate that.) And what do you do, Rick, if what you receive is NOT what you had reasonable hopes of receiving?? Does Amazon make good on problems?? I'm still old-school; need to touch before I hand over the cash.

Keep us posted on your new IDD treatments, and your efforts with the RYB exercises ... hopefully relief in on the way :D



Posted: Fri Mar 02, 2007 1:19 pm
by redshoes
:roll: It is really great to find this forum. I have had low back problems for about 1 1/2 years. It started with problems walking. I love to walk but found I would limp after walking a few bocks. At that time there was not a lot of pain. I went to a Naturalpathic MD and she recommended accupuncture. I did this plus massage. I am also a competetive ballroom dancer. Last spring I had bad muscle spasms--couldn't sit, stand lay down or anything. the pain was so bad all I could do was cry. I did get some relief from massage and accupuncture treatments and was able to rest and recoup somewhat but still had low back pain. I tried injections and Pt. The numbin g agent for the injection eliminated the pain for a couple hours but the injection themselves didn't help at all. The compination of PT, accupuncture and massage helped. Some of the PT exercises I was given are in Dean Moyers book. Finally my Dr recommended a myropractor. I went to him in August and again in October. My pain disappeared. I still did pt exercises daily. In Nov we went on a vacation in Hawaii. I walkede, swam, danced, etc no pain. I was still doing my pt exercises. We went to a very intense dance camp in Dec. Also did several competitions. Throughout all of this, I found dancing has been my best exercise. Yoga comes next. I did this several times a week when home. In Jan we got the flu. For two weeks I did little exercise, dancing, etc. When we got better we had an intense practice as our nexxt competition was a little over 2 weeks off. Two days later I was having pain again. I did accupuncture, pt and massage again and was able to compete with only miderate pain. Unfortunately right afterwards I had to make a long air trip and carry luggage. coming back on the plan I suddenly felt intense pain on my left side. I was in window seat and had to climb over folks to get up. Standing felt so good but of course you can't just stand in asile. That was over two weeks ago. since then I developed fullblown sciatic pain. had an MRI L5-S1 is herniated. Plus degenerative spondylosis and disc disease in L1-4. I was very depressed as I cannot sit or stand without intense pain. I can lay on my stomach or walk with pain and can do rythmn dancing with no pain if I can get up on my feet!
Now my Dr recommends no more accupuncture or PT and recommends chiropratic---specifically spinal decompression or traction. After reading the artices in the forum I am concerned about creatin g more damage rather than helping and also the fact that it is costly and time consuming (which my insurance may not cover--they refused to cover some of the pt and only do 20 accupuncture treatments a year). Can anyone give me any advice about decompression based on their experience. After reading Moyer's book I don't consider surgery a viable option.

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2007 6:38 am
by randolph
Hi Redshoes!

I've comments to make on your sciatica (having recovered using RYB and other related PT programs), but a bit of fluff first: I envy your talent and ability to have fun on the dance floor! 8) I took some ballroom dancing lessons years ago ... and my brain just didn't get it. It was fun being with the girls ... but not so fun being such a clutz. :oops: It's still fun watching those of you who figured dancing out! :D

I can relate with your concern ... wondering if you're ever going to be able to do all the usual daily activities we take for granted before sciatica (sitting, standing, walking, etc). Some of us have even had suicidal thoughts in reaction to the horrible pain of sciatica, and the disability it produces. I'd like to assure you that the vast majority of folks (including me) recover without surgery or using any of the marginally effective treatments your ND recommended.

My experience with NDs has not been good. While NDs seem more open to alternative therapies, some seem to lack real discernment on what really works, and some are simply quacks. The two I have consulted, recommended treatments which were merely placebo treatments, and they also recommended chiropractors (which can cause more damage than any pain relief they might give) and acupuncture (plain and simply useless). In my opinion, your medical dollars are best spent starting with a general practioner. But maybe you've already made the switch, since you mentioned having received a MRI?

I'm having difficulty understanding why your doctor (the ND again?) would tell you not to do PT. Was this part of a recommendation to simply rest from all activity for a while? GPs seem to generally recommend doing whatever PT you can do, as long as it doesn't cause you much pain.

There's been a lot of talk here about decommpression therapy. Start with Dean's article on it on the home page blog, then search for those posts that talk about it. Some folks seem to be helped by it; for others, it was a waste of money, though I don't remember anyone commenting that they were physically hurt by the treatment.

Also, feel free to start your own thread to post your questions and comments, and reply to this. It can get a bit messy to have one thread concern more than one subject or person.



Posted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 12:07 am
by rmterry