Back problems

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cage
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Back problems

Unread post by cage » Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:41 pm

Recently I found myself under the knife, reluctantly, having to correct an ongoing back issue.
Now, almost 3 months into recovery, I thought I would share my experience.
Once you’ve been forced to wear the torture device that is a back brace, suddenly you start meeting people that had/ have similar issues and you appreciate how widespread back problems are.
In my instance, I had a couple of “episodes” over the last 7 years, most I can remember doing something silly that triggered it. The first one in 2010 took some anti-inflamatories to fix. An MRI showed I had degenerative disks at L4/L5 compressing the L5/S1 nerve.
It settled down and in 2015 it returned, this time pills didn’t work requiring some physio and traction.
Throughout the professionals recommended I try do more to reduce the strain on the back through stretching, pilates or biokinetics but I never had the time.
Beginning of this year the lower back started getting stiff through little other than sitting at my desk.
This became a lower back pain, to extreme pain through the hips and legs until, eventually, I couldn’t walk or lie down without being in agony. Only vast quantities of drugs helped reduce the pain.
The issue continued to deteriorate as the nerve was being compressed.
Surgery became the only option.
It’s not something I would recommend, it certainly is character building. Not the least losing your independence and ability to do basic tasks.
The first 4 weeks has zero sitting. You start walking again with 5 minutes twice a day. After 4 weeks you start sitting again with 5 minutes, 3 times daily – adding a minute per day.
After 8 weeks you can start weaning off the brace.
No driving.
It’s painful, frustrating stuff.
The only plus side is the agony fairly rapidly disappears.
One of the hard parts is that the nerve damage takes 3 to 18 months to recover, which is really slow going depending on severity.
The hardest part is taking it easy. From about week 3 you start feeling a lot better so the tendency is to do too much which can really set you back or torpedo your recover. Realistically you need to spend about 6 months gradually being more active from a back perspective.
There are good days and bad days along the way, having had an infected stitch and medication induced gastro for 6 weeks (not fun).
Fortunately, we still have excellent healthcare in SA and my docs and physios have been excellent.
They have worked closely with my DME so my medical will be good in a few weeks.

Anyway, after that waffle, I wanted to raise awareness for something that affects many people. There are basics about posture, especially seated, that can greatly help your back.
When seated, make a point to stand and walk every 40 minutes.
See a physio, get some exercises and start your day by stretching.
If you have back pain go do some Pilates, better still see a professional and understand what your issue may be and do some preventive work to help.
Putting a little effort in can make a huge difference and believe me when I say surgery is to be avoided.
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Re: Back problems

Unread post by Fransw » Sun Apr 30, 2017 8:12 pm

Only now you telling us? Not nice a back operation!, but the rehabilitation is everything!

I'm very scared to get back problems! I hurt my lower back a while ago on a game drive of all things! :? It was in a truck game vehicle, and I was sitting at the back when the truck went over a dip to fast..

I did some exercises since then and the problem is almost gone, only 5 min. a day..
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Re: Back problems

Unread post by cage » Sun Apr 30, 2017 8:40 pm

Fransw wrote:Only now you telling us? Not nice a back operation!, but the rehabilitation is everything!

I'm very scared to get back problems! I hurt my lower back a while ago on a game drive of all things! :? It was in a truck game vehicle, and I was sitting at the back when the truck went over a dip to fast..

I did some exercises since then and the problem is almost gone, only 5 min. a day..
Sounds like a compression injury, something common with aircraft accidents. If it persists probably worth getting an xray, you may have an underlying issue that was agrivated.
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Re: Back problems

Unread post by Fransw » Sun Apr 30, 2017 8:55 pm

This simple exercise helped a lot for my "injury"! Cage, what other exercises are good?
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Re: Back problems

Unread post by cage » Sun Apr 30, 2017 9:12 pm

I'll scan some of the docs I have.
Essentially mat exercises so you can't hurt anything.
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Re: Back problems

Unread post by excolonial » Tue May 02, 2017 6:34 am

Hi Cage

Most of us Southern Africans have degenerate discs due to the frequency and type of sport we took part in as youngsters.(according to a sport science doctor I met after I herniated a disc). I had back pain after climbing up to my balcony after locking myself out of my apartment. I thought it was a muscle strain, and proceeded to get ready for work. I started walking to the station, and was suddenly incapacitated with incredible back pain, half body spasms, and electric shocks going down my legs and arse. I had to lie down on the pavement in my suit for a while until the spasms eased and I shuffled back to my bed. My frau brought me home some pain killers and I headed off to the see the doc the next day.

After an MRI, he told me I had 3 degenerate discs, and had one previous herniation which my body had already digested, but I had not felt. He gave me only one stretching exercise to do(Lie on your side, knees bent 90 degress, thighs at 45 degrees from torso, then flatten your shoulders and hold as long as you can take it. Still do it regularly. He made me buy a swiss ball to sit on in the office, and told me to strengthen my core. After about 30 days of this the spasms were less and less frequent until they went away completely. I got the occasional warning shot for a few years afterwards, but have been fine for years now without surgery. I have not had an MRI to confirm the herniation has been re-absorbed but I suspect it has. Many people offered me their seats on the train when they saw me react to a spasm, all knew exactly what I was going through, and all were men. As you say, this is much more common than you realise until it happens to you.

Laser surgery is an outpatient procedure now, but touch wood I have not needed it, and thanks to staying quite fit, I have not had a recurrence.

A humbling experience.
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Re: Back problems

Unread post by Fransw » Tue May 02, 2017 11:22 am

Excolonel, a big yes for good core training! And i also think it must start at school level. Thay only do big muscle training and forget about the most important. Although swimming is different..
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Re: Back problems

Unread post by ehs » Wed May 03, 2017 2:59 pm

cage wrote: nerve was being compressed. Surgery became the only option. . Trimmed for brevity.
What exactly was the name of the op you had?

My wife had major sciatica issues and also went under the knife for a compressed nerve in the spine, I think they scraped some bone away. Her recovery has been much less traumatic than yours as, a few months later, she's back (no pun) to running 30-40 kms/wk. Maybe it was a much simpler op?
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Re: Back problems

Unread post by cage » Wed May 03, 2017 3:00 pm

ehs wrote:
cage wrote: nerve was being compressed. Surgery became the only option. . Trimmed for brevity.
What exactly was the name of the op you had?

My wife had major sciatica issues and also went under the knife for a compressed nerve in the spine, I think they scraped some bone away. Her recovery has been much less traumatic than yours as, a few months later, she's back (no pun) to running 30-40 kms/wk. Maybe it was a much simpler op?
It's a laminectomy.
In my case they took over 4g of bone (supposedly a lot) - I have it in a jar.
Seriously gross :cry:
The taller you are the more difficult it is, the back being a long lever..
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Re: Back problems

Unread post by Iceberg » Wed May 03, 2017 3:14 pm

I also have a herniated disc at L4/L5. Has been giving issues for almost 20 years now.
The cause: sitting in front of a bloody computer for 30 years+, my back arched forward and forced into a 'C' shape.

But in 2010 I had an MRI scan which pointed out the problem clearly and I was put on an exercise program.
This has helped greatly. I do the exercises 3x weekly - takes about 45 minutes.
Then I got myself a 'kneeling chair' - where you kneel on a cushion and sit with your body making a 135 degree angles with the legs.
No more leaning back against a backrest or lounging in the chair.
This puts the spine in the 'S' shape it is supposed to be and tones the core muscles.
Similar to the posture ball things you get nowadays.

Then of course I avoid picking up heavy things - sometimes I transgress and pay the price the next day. :(
But I still pull the 2t aircraft from the hangar - with a straight back of coarse. 8)

So with these measures I am pain free and fully functional most of the time. Will postpone the operation for as long as I can. 8-[
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Re: Back problems

Unread post by ehs » Wed May 03, 2017 3:45 pm

cage wrote:It's a laminectomy.
In my case they took over 4g of bone (supposedly a lot) - I have it in a jar. Seriously gross :cry:
The taller you are the more difficult it is, the back being a long lever..
My wife tells me she had a bilateral lumbar laminectomy on three levels (sounds like gobbledygook to me).
But had a much easier rehab, maybe because she’s a runner and her surgeon attitude to rehab (he was 3 weeks off his first comrades). Started going for walks after 4,5 weeks, started running after 4 months and got up to 30 kms/week 2 month’s later.
Maybe the lever idea makes a diff because she’s only 5’ 6”?
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Re: Back problems

Unread post by cage » Wed May 03, 2017 3:55 pm

ehs wrote:
cage wrote:It's a laminectomy.
In my case they took over 4g of bone (supposedly a lot) - I have it in a jar. Seriously gross :cry:
The taller you are the more difficult it is, the back being a long lever..
My wife tells me she had a bilateral lumbar laminectomy on three levels (sounds like gobbledygook to me).
But had a much easier rehab, maybe because she’s a runner and her surgeon attitude to rehab (he was 3 weeks off his first comrades). Started going for walks after 4,5 weeks, started running after 4 months and got up to 30 kms/week 2 month’s later.
Maybe the lever idea makes a diff because she’s only 5’ 6”?
Started walking immediately, albeit slowly and for 5 minutes, increasing daily.
They have a very conservative programme for the first 3 months (almost there).
My medical is clear from month 4.
Its much easier now but the first 3 weeks were hell and the next 3 not great due to complications.
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Re: Back problems

Unread post by apollo11 » Wed May 03, 2017 7:09 pm

Sorry to hear about your op and back issue Cage, hope you recover well, and thank you for the other information re R/W.


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Re: Back problems

Unread post by Horace Blok » Sun May 21, 2017 5:43 am

Interesting thread. I too have lower back hassles (L2/3) and my small contribution to this thread is THIS. Consider a kneeling posture office chair. In my case, its done me a POWER of good.
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Re: Back problems

Unread post by cage » Mon May 22, 2017 11:33 am

As an update.
Life is pretty much back to normal.
I started Pilates a few weeks ago and that has really helped (It's harder than it looks and you do feel a bit of a twat doing it 8-[ )
Medical is back in a week and a bit and have my currency and validation tests lined up, things are looking up :D

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