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Old     (dirwoody)      Join Date: Apr 2003       12-02-2012, 1:34 PM Reply   
Got a bulged disc in my lower back and all I keep hearing is that it'll never be the same, and the wife in my ear about how I need to be more careful.....
Anybody been there and have any insight?
I know I need to take care of myself and in my current condition, I just can't wait to walk around normal again, but I can't imagine not riding anymore.
Kind-of a self pitty thread I know, but It's been a really long couple weeks, and lets face it, it's better than calling each other stupid about their boat choices and who thinks who has peaked.....our regular winter BS on here.
Old     (ottog1979)      Join Date: Apr 2007       12-02-2012, 1:55 PM Reply   
I'm 51, still board regularly and this happened to me in my mid 30's. It's going to take some time to heal up but you can do a lot to help it out and avoid future back injuries. I'd recommend getting some PT if you can arrange it. Ask them all the questions you want about prevention, etc. They will teach you some stretching exercises and core strengthening exercises that will be your savoir over time. All that stuff you've heard in the past about not bending over to lift, using your legs, etc. is true. Head it. While I can re-injure my back now & then, I am more aware and usually feel it coming and head it off by stopping/changing what I'm doing. I do all the sports I want these days (wakeboarding, running, road & mountain biking, surfing now & then, golf, etc.), without any back trouble at all. It will just take some time, stretching, core exercising and being smart.
Old     (robertstone9)      Join Date: Sep 2011       12-02-2012, 2:59 PM Reply   
i had surgery on my back @ 30 that's what brought me here couldn't get back up on skis but still had the urge for water sports wont be the same but you will learn to adapt and do lifting and such smarter so you don't re injure it
Old     (dirwoody)      Join Date: Apr 2003       12-02-2012, 3:00 PM Reply   
Thanks, glad to hear. I know I won't be able to be my same reckless self, but I'm happy to hear I'll be able to keep riding. I'm 29 now, so hopefully will have a lot more riding head of me. How long did it take you to get back to being yourself? I've been lying flat on my back for a few days now and get just devastating pain when I am on my feet or sitting up even long enough to go to the bathroom. Getting really tired of it, and can't wait to walk around again.
Old     (boardman74)      Join Date: Jul 2012       12-02-2012, 3:07 PM Reply   
It just depends on the severity of it. I have had multiple bulged and herniated disks. I still ride, but I can tell you it hurts everyday. It will never be the same, not saying you can't ride or that you can't do what you did before. Saying that its pretty possible you will have future problems and continued pain.

If it's bad enough your having problems just walking I'd give you about a 99.9% chance you are going to have future problems and pain. Surgery may or may not help. Same with PT and the chiropractor. I currently have 2 disks that are leaking internally where yours is bulged externally. The fluid is very irritating to the nerves so my brain thinks I'm hurting myself all the time and the pain it pretty severe at times, but the neurosurgeon tells me there is actually nothing mechanically wrong...just the nerves sending false pain impulses to my brain from the irritation. Hurts none the same.

So if it's not to bad you may have results like Andy, but if you are having problems just walking weeks later I am guessing your results may vary. I beat mine up pretty bad while in the military for 10 1/2 years so I am probably not the average case. About 2 days a week I roll out of bed because I can't sit up. Some days are better than others but there is always some degree of pain. Once it's there...its there, for most people.
Old     (ottog1979)      Join Date: Apr 2007       12-02-2012, 3:31 PM Reply   
I was in bed for 4 days. After a while, that didn't help anymore. It actually felt better to get up and walk around a bit - but I'm talking very gently. After a few days when some of the swelling has gone down, it actually felt better to walk than to lie in bed. But, I must have looked like a granny walking gingerly around the house & up the driveway. All told, it probably took me a few months to get back to basic normal and probably 6-9 months or so to do most of the sports I was involved in. The pain would reoccur over the next several years when I did something wrong or stupid. But, I knew what I was doing wrong and what to do to help it. Now, I rarely tweak it anymore but I can sense when it's coming on or movements I'm doing that I shouldn't. No doubt, it's slow. Go to PT and ask a lot of questions (What can I do to help it now? What are movements to stay away from? How can I help it long-term? What caused this and how?) This is not something you're going to snap back from in a couple weeks. But, most likely life can return to nearly normal.
Old     (ottog1979)      Join Date: Apr 2007       12-02-2012, 3:32 PM Reply   
Funny... before I injured my back, I used to think people who complained of aching backs were pussys! Boy, did I get religion. It was one of the most painful things I've ever felt.
Old     (boardman74)      Join Date: Jul 2012       12-02-2012, 3:42 PM Reply   
^^^^ x2!!!
Old     (greg_smith)      Join Date: Sep 2006       12-03-2012, 5:11 AM Reply   
Here's the best advice you will ever get..... get an inversion table!

I had pain for a couple of years, I used this for a few weeks and it changed my life. I maybe get a little bit of stiffness once every month or so, but not bad at all. Other than that, it's like the injury was never there. If you're not familiar with it, the idea is that it will stretch out the spine. If the spinal processes opens up enough, the disc will slowly try to move back into place. The de-compression does many things. It streches all the soft tissue, it takes pressure off of the nerves that are causing pain, it increases bloodflow which allows you to heal faster. You don't need to go completely upside down on the inversion table, 45 degrees should do it! If you do too much too soon, you will pay for it!

I would maybe try to get the inflammation reduced in your back before doing this though. An ice-bath will completely numb your injury, taking away the pain (although short term), and reduce inflammation as well. Maybe take some Ibprofen for a litte while.

Yoga will also do you good if you're will to give it a go! Strech and strengthen your back and core.
Old     (da_moose)      Join Date: Feb 2004       12-03-2012, 6:28 AM Reply   
stay off your feet as much as you can and ice it down ,,,,Im Back and a drunk drive jumped the cener devider and hit me at 70 MPH ,,,,, you will get better better ,it takes time ,,, sometimes a lot of time
Old     (tuneman)      Join Date: Mar 2002       12-03-2012, 6:48 AM Reply   
x3 what Andy says. I blew a disc in my neck about 6 years ago. It buldged inward into my spinal cord. I just kept riding, and every now and then during a crash, my whole body would vibrate from the buldge shocking the cord. Kinda scary and the doctor was amazed that I wasn't paralyzed from the neck down. So, got physical therapy and healed quickly.

Then two years ago, I blew two lower discs at the same time my daughter was born. I couldn't walk but it was convenient to get a steroid shot since I was already at the hospital:-P That took 6 months of recovery and 3 months of physical therapy. For the first 3 months, I couldn't stand and for the last 3 months, I couldn't sit.

I only wakesurfed that season. BTW, I was a competitive kneeboarder, thus the reason for the back abuse. I only wakesurf now. I could kneeboard, but I don't want to even flirt with the idea of blowing discs again. I feel your pain.

So, long story short is that you'll recover. Definitely do PT and try to avoid surgery. Everyone I know that has had back surgery always has to go back for more. If you build up your core strength, your body will heal itself.
Old     (captain_vilfo)      Join Date: Apr 2007       12-03-2012, 6:49 AM Reply   
Hurt my back working out last spring, took a few months for the pain to finally go away. Lots of stretching and core work out were done!

Inversion table sounds pretty legit though..
Old     (greg_smith)      Join Date: Sep 2006       12-03-2012, 8:09 AM Reply   
Inversion tables are typically sold for about $400 I think, but Costco sells them for about half that.

Personal Traning is great, and you should do this when the time is right, however I just want to point out that the idea behind PT is to strengthen the mucscle and tissue around the injury so that it takes the load off the injury itself, acting as a compensation. The inversion table will actually work to reverse the injury. Bulged disc are caused by compression, so the way to reverse is to decompress.

Lots of great advice on here. I'm not sure I agree with the comment about staying off your feet though. On one hand, staying off your feet is good because you taking your own weight off of the disc, which will help not iteritate it. On the other hand, get up and walking around will loosen the muscles up. If you rest too much, the muscles will become further weakened, and not as strong. So that's a tough call!
Old     (dirwoody)      Join Date: Apr 2003       12-03-2012, 4:00 PM Reply   
Thanks for all the input everybody. I have an appointment tomorrow to hopefully find out more, keep your fingers crossed for me!
Old     (Jmaxymek)      Join Date: Feb 2012       12-03-2012, 8:45 PM Reply   
At 16 I've been dealing with a bulging disc for almost two years now. I have chiropractic work done regularly as well as physical therapy and I have an inversion table. Another thing that has done me a ton of good is a FIR HotHouse. It's a sweatless sauna that subjects you to infrared heat, helping reduce pain and swelling. Has also been awesome on my jello knees.
Best of luck with your appointment!
Old     (greg_smith)      Join Date: Sep 2006       12-04-2012, 6:46 AM Reply   
Here's a few more things that might help. One, get a good pair of shoes with lots of support. We all know how bad shoes can cause a sore back. Also, another good way to strengthen your back is through lots of swimming. Swimming is low impact and streches your body at the same time. I think the backstroke is best for back injuries.
Old     (dirwoody)      Join Date: Apr 2003       12-04-2012, 4:54 PM Reply   
Well, the MRI came back with a herniated L5/SI1, ad based on my amount of pain and lack of ability to do most things, he gave me injections, but warned I may need surgery if they did not work 100%. I'm going to be able to do most things, just with limited lifting for a while, so hopefully I can get it strengthened back up for summer.

The injections have worked thus far with some good relief today, I just hope it continues.
Keep the tips and ideas coming everybody, I'll for sure be looking into an inversion table and somewhere to go swim during the winter.
I'll keep the thread updated with progress, so if you think of something useful in the mean time - make sure to let us all know!
Thanks again everybody
Old     (Therapy10)      Join Date: Oct 2011       12-04-2012, 5:32 PM Reply   
I'm a PT so obviously biased but go see a PT! Any talk of surgery without serious and/or worsening neurologic deficits (urinary incontinence, lower extremity weakness, etc) is alarming! Too often people get pushed towards interventions that are not warranted or less than beneficial before going through more conservative interventions that are also beneficial.

Not all PTs are created equal and I would recommend seeking one out with OCS credentialing as it demonstrates a certain level of competency and some aspect of keeping up with current best evidence.
Old     (ottog1979)      Join Date: Apr 2007       12-04-2012, 5:35 PM Reply   
^Second Nicholas Adams. From everything I've learned surgery is by no means a reliable cure. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If it were me, I'd avoid it until it was the absolute last option.
Old     (ttrigo)      Join Date: Dec 2004       12-04-2012, 7:06 PM Reply   
Old     (greg_smith)      Join Date: Sep 2006       12-05-2012, 5:09 AM Reply   
L5/S1 is the same one I blew out. I think this is a fairly common one.

I'm with the guys on this one. Surgurey is hit or miss and should be an absolute last resort once you've tried everything! Knowing what I know now, I would probably give it at least a year before even starting to think about that.

Did they tell you how bad the buldge was? They will usually say something like: mild, moderate or severe... or somewhere in between. Even a moderately buldge can be very painful.
Old     (bill)      Join Date: Feb 2001       12-05-2012, 8:56 AM Reply   
good thread im 42 and have a sore back from time to time due to disk getting closer together in my lower back with wearing out discs and i have been thinking of joining a gym mainly to swim and getiing an inversion table and now i see that its a good idea from the feedback...
Old     (greg_smith)      Join Date: Sep 2006       12-05-2012, 10:09 AM Reply   
I have heard of a case where a woman completely recovered from a herniated disc by swimming for an hour about 3 times a week, for about 3 months. It makes sense on a lot of different levels. Swimming increases blood flow, it gets all your muscles and joints moving, it's low impact (unlike running and weight lifting), it strengthens a number of muscles including your back. I wouldn't think that swimming would strengthen your back enough on its own to compensate for a buldging disc but..... who knows!
Old     (behindtheboat)      Join Date: Aug 2006       12-05-2012, 10:27 AM Reply   
PT, yoga, and time. Took a waterski jumper I know nearly 5 years to feel close to normal and ski again
Old     (ottog1979)      Join Date: Apr 2007       12-05-2012, 11:10 AM Reply   
^Agree. This is not a one-month fix. It's about learning awareness of when you're using your body wrong, the warning signs and how to use your body more correctly. When you do this, you'll feel better and be hurt less.
Things I learned at PT:
Why sitting at a desk all day is not good for your lower back and how it sets it up for injury on "athletic" weekends.
How to sit at a desk more properly.
How to take breaks and stretches during the work day.
How to get in and out of a car when your back is hurting (believe it or not, there's a better way and worse ways)
Or, how to get in/out of bed, up/off a couch, etc.
How to lift and not lift objects.
Good stretching and core exercises.
That using a shovel can do a lot of lower back damage quickly.

Much of the above seems wussy to someone who hasn't had lower back issues. But a warning to those who haven't - when it gets to the point of sciatica and loosing everyday sports that you enjoy much less difficulty with daily activities, you'll be paying attention then.

Quality PT is where it's at.
Old     (dirwoody)      Join Date: Apr 2003       12-05-2012, 11:34 AM Reply   
I'll have to look more into the PT route. My Dr is apparently very conservative and does not like to operate unless truly needed, which is why I'm even considering it. He said I may be just fine without it, but unless I see a lot of progress, it may be the best option. I guess I don't know enough about the good and bad of it to make an informed decision yet. I agree, I don't want to go under the knife unless I need to, but what other reasons are there for not undergoing surgery? Is it the risk factor? does it put you in a worse spot later on? more prone to re-injury? Just trying to be more informed is all

The bulge is moderate-severe, and even after the injection, being on my feet or even upright, will cause my left leg to start going numb relatively quickly (much before being able to take a normal shower). By the time I was able to get to the specialist, my pain had gotten to a point where even under medication, I was unable to stand or sit upright long enough to go to the bathroom without experiencing severe pain. So basically, stand up, walk 20' go to the bathroom, and make it 10' back to the bed, and I was about ready to scream.
Andy - I have to agree with you, and I'm hopeful to learn a lot more about what you posted, as I know healthy every day living is going to be probably more important for me than taking my wife's advise of not wakeboarding anymore. Although, if that's what it's going to take, then it is what it is.
Old     (ottog1979)      Join Date: Apr 2007       12-05-2012, 11:54 AM Reply   
We're not doctors and not looking at your MRI results this week like your doctor is... But, when I was injured my doctor said they wouldn't even discuss surgery until 6 months went by. Much more often than not, your symptoms lessen and you accommodate, strengthen, etc. and surgery is not needed. I'm no expert on surgery options but one of the main ones is to fuse the two verterbre together where the damaged disk is. Sometime this works well, sometimes it doesn't I was told. But I didn't like the sound of that AT ALL.

If your injury was in the last week or two and surgery is being discussed as a serious current option, I'm thinking that's WAY too early.
Old     (dirwoody)      Join Date: Apr 2003       12-05-2012, 1:25 PM Reply   
The surgery he was referring to is a microdiscectomy. Not fusing the discs, but rather going in, and clipping off the portion of the disc which is bulging into the spinal nerves.
I agree, still a bit early to know what to do, but trying to read all i can and get opinions to see what is my best route. Heck, it took me 5 months to talk myself into getting my rotator cuff repaired, although it was the only way it was going to get back to normal (full thickness tear). He just wanted me to know up front it may be necessary, and not surprise me with it later.
Still freaked out by the whole thing. Go from regular activity to crazy pain in a matter of's amazing how fast that will change a person's perspective on things.
Old     (Therapy10)      Join Date: Oct 2011       12-05-2012, 3:02 PM Reply

came across this today and thought of this thread. An excerpt: "It is safe to adopt a ‘wait-and-watch’ policy for cases of massive disc herniation if there is any early sign of clinical improvement". Also these are BAD boys! Massive herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP).
Old     (dirwoody)      Join Date: Apr 2003       12-05-2012, 3:44 PM Reply   
good read!
Old     (wakebordr11)      Join Date: May 2001       12-05-2012, 4:58 PM Reply   
Everyone is built differently... I've got 2 bulged disks in my lower back and I had pain in movement but none radiating down my legs. PT and stopping wakeboarding for the season helped... I still get stiff from overactivity like skiing moguls and such but it hasn't 'gone out' on me in a while. I think 29 is too early to consider the knife, I got scared by the thought of an injection and didn't take it...

Like I said, everyone is built differently, PTs and docs expected me to have numbness and pain down my legs judging from my MRIs and I didn't. Stay positive and do everything they tell you, you're young like me, you can recover.
Old     (buffalow)      Join Date: Apr 2002       12-06-2012, 8:52 AM Reply   
I am the same as you all. There was 2 years of my life that I could wakeboard and be active, but not sit in my chair or stand longer than 30 minutes. Did chirco/PT/stretching/accupuncture/back machine,etc... My doctors told me surgery was the only answer.

Than I found this book and read it along the way to disneyland 2 years ago. Spent the next 4 days walking 12 hours per day with not an ounce of pain. I occasionally feel it coming and use his techniques to back it down. I am not saying this solves everybody's problem, but there are 4 guys that I gave this book to that were solved just as I was.

Either way that $8 book saved my life and the life of my 5 year old son that can now wrestle with me every day again.
Old     (greg_smith)      Join Date: Sep 2006       12-07-2012, 8:54 AM Reply   
Buffalow, care to share any of those techniques?
Old     (dirwoody)      Join Date: Apr 2003       12-08-2012, 9:17 AM Reply   
Well, against a lot of advice on here, I'm going ahead with surgery. After experiencing a little relief immediately after the injection, then slowly going back down hill, I pulled the trigger so to speak. And here's my reasoning......
I wanted to try physical therapy, but doing physical therapy involves going to physical therapy. And as I couldn't sit or stand long enough to go to the bathroom without terrible pain, this was going to be nearly impossible.
So I spoke with a therapist regarding everything to see what his thoughts were, and he said I was worse off than the majority of his clients. He advised I could possibly still get some relief, but it would all depend.
As the Injection was already wearing off, my confidence was shaken to say the least in them.
I spoke with my Dr and he said it was going to be needed. While I normally would want a second opinion on something like this, he had come highly regarded enough, and is conservative to begin with, I ran with it. I'm going to look further into PT and the book above after surgery, but at this point, I felt I was about out of options besides sucking it up and living with it.

So wish me luck, I go in on Monday.
Old     (greg_smith)      Join Date: Sep 2006       12-08-2012, 10:42 AM Reply   
To answer a question you asked earlier, I think most people leave surgery has a last option because whether the surgery goes well or goes bad, the results are permanent. There's a risk factor invovled. However your situation does sound worse than most. I was never in so much pain that I had trouble gettin up to go to the washroom or anything like that...

Good luck with your surgery though. Keep us posted on how it went!
Old     (wakebordr11)      Join Date: May 2001       12-08-2012, 4:14 PM Reply   
Good luck man... Scary stuff, hope it doesn't mean the end of wakeboarding for you...
Old     (supra_21v)      Join Date: Apr 2008       12-09-2012, 8:01 AM Reply   
Looks like I am a few days late on this post but figured I would add my input for what its worth. I hemorrhaged a disc in my lower back when i was 28, I am now 30. I was in such bad shape I had to have help getting to the restroom for almost 4 days. From my experience there are doctors that believe in physical therapy and some that believe in surgery. I chose therapy due to some of the stories I had heard. When I started therapy I could barely walk into the doctors office. It was one of the most painful things I have experienced. It still flares up on me with lots of riding or lifting but I am able to do some exercises I learned and work it back into place. Ultimately I am extremely happy the I chose to give therapy a try. No matter what you decide it wont be too fun! Good luck on your recovery and hope you get back to riding soon. I am currently 4 weeks out of acl surgery so back in therapy. Guess thats the price we pay to ride!
Old     (dirwoody)      Join Date: Apr 2003       12-09-2012, 7:17 PM Reply   
J - good luck with your knee!

to be honest, I'm a little freaked out about the whole thing, but have heard nothing but good things, so I'm optimistic. I will let everybody know how the procedure and the aftermath all go. hopefully there's not a lot to report, but either way, I will be back.
So say a little prayer, I know I've been saying a lot
Old     (dirwoody)      Join Date: Apr 2003       12-12-2012, 3:34 PM Reply   
Well, went under at about 3:15 Monday afternoon. Made it home to go to bed, and have been feeling AWESOME! was up and walking the next morning, and have been out and about a lot more today than I have been in the last 2 weeks combined! Very happy I went through with it. Now I just need to take it easy for the next 6 wks and get back to normal
Going to do some PT as well to hopefully learn what I need to so I don't have to go through this again!
Old     (trentj6930)      Join Date: Oct 2007       12-12-2012, 10:19 PM Reply   
Congrats DC. I had a disc replacement in my neck at C6/C7 in May and have been thrilled with the results. Not the same as the back, but I understand the pain and suffering. Take it easy and rehab properly.
Old     (twowake)      Join Date: Jun 2010       12-14-2012, 12:57 PM Reply   
I had a herniated disc and 2 bulging discs in my low back for several years. Put it off until i couldn't hardly walk. It has been almost 3 years since the surgery and i rode better this year than i ever have. I still have a little pain but nothing like before the surgery.
Old     (greg_smith)      Join Date: Sep 2006       12-15-2012, 6:22 AM Reply   
Another great way to loosen up your back is using a foam roller. If you haven't heard of this, you should youTube it. I'm actually using it right now. It works really well. It basically massages your entire back, and loosens up any tight vertebrae. I think anyone would benefit using this!
Old     (dirwoody)      Join Date: Apr 2003       12-18-2012, 8:13 PM Reply   
Thanks guys, I'm really happy with the results thus far, and just doing my best to be nice and let it rehab correctly. Will look into the foam roller though, seems like a great idea
Old     (King12)      Join Date: Jul 2012       12-19-2012, 6:42 PM Reply   
Greg is right about anyone benefitting from foam rollers, they really are great! I am sure that would help something, although they can hurt when done correctly!
Old     (greg_smith)      Join Date: Sep 2006       12-20-2012, 2:44 PM Reply   
Ya, although they don't look complicated, it takes a bit of practice. I found that it took a week or so before I started to get familiar with my limitations on it, as well as what techniques were most effective for me.
Old     (dirwoody)      Join Date: Apr 2003       01-03-2013, 10:32 AM Reply   
Well, for those tuned in, the saga continues. As with every invasive procedure there is risk, and while we all thought I was out of the woods since over 2 weeks out I had no swelling in the area, and was getting along great, sunday I was getting out of a truck, felt a pop, and things started going down hill.
Monday there was some redness and swelling, with a low grade fever. Called the doc who said to monitor it and keep them posted. After a slow new years eve, woke up on tuesday even worse. A lot more redness, very tender in the area of the incision, and it was swelling like crazy. No appetite, with a pounding head ache, we called the emergency line to our doc around 6 in the evening. Went to the ER around 7, and was in for surgery around 11. Apparently the pop I had felt was a sac of infection between layers of muscle which had popped. It was not in the spine (thank god) just in the muscle. So after 2 nights in the hospital, I found out this morning it is a basic staff infection. The infectious disease doc said it should be no big deal, and will get along nicely, but I'm still counting my blessings we caught it in time before it got into my spine.

Just wanted to update everyone again. The saga wasn't over. but rather, took a quick, and unexpected turn, but hopefully, it will be over soon.


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