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Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery?
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I had an accident on New Year's day and was diagnosed by MRI with a herniated disk/small tear in L4-L5 and a bulge in another lower disk. First week was really bad with pain and the thought I broke my pelvis or hip joint and missed a week of work, second week getting better and received the MRI results, I'm now at day 21 with only moderate discomfort (sciatica in upper hip) at night and in the morning with some general tightness during the day.

Started swimming 750 meters and riding the spinning bike for 45 minutes - no problem and feel better both mentally and physically.

So my question is, has anyone had a similar experience in terms of recovery and how fast did you get back to 100%.

I know ever back is different but I've heard so many negative herniated disk stories that I need to believe its possible to recover within a reasonable amount of time.

Thanks
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [summitt] [ In reply to ]
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My disc problem was in my neck area, so my recovery was likely much different. It took me the better part of two years to get back to where I had been. Hopefully your recovery will go faster. I did make it all the way back and then some, but it was difficult.

Good luck.

Don

Tri-ing to have fun. Anything else is just a bonus!
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [summitt] [ In reply to ]
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drink lots of fluids, water. Sorry, I was just talking about my own herniated disc L4-L5 and parts of S1 . >50% herniation at age 20 unknown cause possibly genetic. Talked with neurosuergeon about problems and surgery. Surgery is pretty much last option for me. Pinched nerve with constant pain radiating down to toes.


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Last edited by: fox5: Jan 21, 09 18:27
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [fox5] [ In reply to ]
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please, please ignore this person, DO NOT "just get used to the pain"

Disc injuries are very serious and prognosis/ recovery vary widely. No, I'm not a neurosurgeon, Yes, I am a doctor, Yes I have degenerative discs both herniated l3/4, l4/5. Did you recieve epidurals to help reduce inflammation?...not a cure but can help 1. the pain and 2. reduce chronic inflammation and therefore recovery time.
You absolutely need to be VERY careful how your riding your bike, I mean both intensity and position. Take the time to understand the anatomy if you do not already. When you are bent over as in an aero your spine flexes forward, opening posteriorly. This takes the pressure off the herniated disc(s) which not only may not hurt, it may even feel better. It also places posterior pressure on the discs and has a tendency to (and serious risk of pushing (herniating) the disc further)...alot of folks with minor herniations can and do END their cycling/ tri careers in this manner. Build your core strength, and DON'T push it, you may need more time than you'd like....thats OK. Please be smart, seek medical advice, NOT ST advice from people like me who do know some things but don't know your case particulars, seek out an experienced PT who can help you target core muscle groups that balance and support those discs...its a rotten injury, I know, wish you the best in recovery.
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [summitt] [ In reply to ]
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http://www.chirogeek.com/

Awesome resource for educating yourself on what the hell is going on in there, what your symptoms mean, excercices, etc. Pick thru it a bit.
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [summitt] [ In reply to ]
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Well,

I had two herniated discs. I did the steroid shots, physical therapy etc. In the end surgery became my best option and I took it. You are correct in saying that all back problems seem to be individual. The good news is as athletes we tend to set the curve on recovery. When Doctors talk of patients revovering as soon as _________ or as long as ________ usually it is the person in top physical condition that is the quickest to recover.


If your injury leads you to the path of surgery do not fear it. I am not saying go for surgery now, I am simply saying that if your Dr feels it may be the best option consider it. I know there will be others that will tell you to avoid surgery, but for me it saved my triathlon life.

Quick synopsis:

Herniated two discs in December 07. Pain so bad couldnt atand for more than a few minutes.
I was able to keep swimming and biking while doing PT but no running.
In January 08 things went bad, and I started having even more severe pain in both legs and butt cheeks.
Steroid shot in Jan/ Feb made me considerably better.
Tried to start light running didn't work.
Kept with PT thru Feb. Disc re-herniated and I was done. Could stand at all.
Surgery in March.
Was walking a few days after surgery.
Walking 20 Miles a week at two weeks out.
Started swimming and cycling at about 5 weeks.
Running at 2 months.
Completed marathon at 7 months to the day of surgery.

Now I am at full training. (knock on wood) feel 100%. Hopefully able to do IM in August.


I was told at one point that I may not run again.

I hope this helps, feel free to PM me if you ever need more specifics or have any questions.

PS
Do a search on my posts, you will see a tons of my herniated disc posts, you will see me going from depressed to happy and back again! YOu can come back, you will be OK.

-
3x Leadville 100 (23:50) PR
Badwater 135 (41:24)
Lean Horse 100 (20:19)
Run Across Colorado 320 miles
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [irishsailsman] [ In reply to ]
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Depends on your definition of "recover".....

It took me, really, a full year until I was what I could call "completely recovered". I injured my back (herniated disc L4-5) in January or February, took most of the summer until I finally got past tons of physical therapy, finally steroid shots in August, I think it was. Then with all the pain gone trying to get back to some training while still spending a lot time on PT. I did my first decent race in Feb of 06, so was 1 months or so altogether. I still spend 45 minutes or so twice a week on lower back and related stuff. Good luck.... you will recover.


don't just do something..... sit there
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [summitt] [ In reply to ]
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Radiologic appearance has minimal correlation with pain scores or outcomes. Many people whose MRI/x-ray looks awful are walking around like nothing happened and many with perfectly normal imaging have horrible pain. The truth is that there is still a fair amt of debate about the origen of discogenic pain.

Keep working with your docPT who know your case and thus are better equiped to make recommendations than idiots like me on a forum. Metabolic exchange in discs is by hydristatic pressure so keep moving. Just come back at a rate your back can tolerate and keep any eye out for crucial neurologic sings. -such as foot drop or weakness when walking on toes or heels.

I've been told I needed a fusion a couple of times over the years. I haven't had one and I have 0 limitations related to my back (more like my pocket book and schedule).
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [summitt] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for the input but this is exactly what I don't want to hear. I'm reading a book by Dr. John Sarno who blames much of the overall back pain. treatment, and the whole medical industry at fault for not fully understanding or treating the psychological factors associated with the pain.

This is why I'm looking for a positive story to help validate his book on Healing Back Pain The Mind Body Connection.

His book is much different than shots, PT, surgery, chiro, massage, etc.

I really want to hold out hope but I'm skeptical as well. I think the internet only fans my fears so I'm tuning all this out.

Thanks
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [summitt] [ In reply to ]
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Well if you just want a positive story.. I was diagnosed with a herinated disk on boxing day, and was unable to walk unassisted and nearly passing out a couple of times.

I was back to full training within two weeks.

Now of course some might say that the dr misdiagnosed the problem, but I prefer to put it down to my super-human healing powers and staying in bed playing pro-cycling manager for 2 days being bought beers on demand.
Last edited by: tim_sleepless: Jan 22, 09 4:42
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [summitt] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for the input but this is exactly what I don't want to hear.

Sorry, but what you have is serious and potentially permanent. Yes, their is a big range in how people respond. Yes, their is a high degree of individuality.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it's better to get that out of the way first and understand that.

This is not like a soft-tissue injury that heals up in a few weeks or a broken bone that can heal in a month or so.

Now that being said, some people bounce back reasonably well from this, but others have to deal with this for the rest of their lives. Surgery is an option, but like a lot of back solutions, the response to surgery is varied.

What you'll need to do is first find a conservative treatment regime that works for you. You'll then need to find a workout routine that works for you. That may mean no triathlon. That may mean only one sport of the three. For example - I can only ride. Strange, because you would think riding terrible for the lower back - but with my back and disc problem, a moderate amount of cycling makes my back feel good. Running is out, as well as swimming( both involve too much twisting/torquing of the pelvis for me).

You'll also need to develop an ongoing routine to maintain back and core strength - again this most likely will be unique to you. I have developed my own routine and I have found that certain moves and exercise that are supposed to help the lower back, make mine worse.





Steve Fleck @stevefleck | Blog
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [summitt] [ In reply to ]
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Obviously Dr. Silverman knows backs...but so do I as I've lived with back trouble for 23 years now and have fully educated myself on the condition.

First off there is no 'recovery' in the complete sense. Discs are not regenerative tissue and they don't 'heal'. But symptoms can and do subside. For all practical purposes you can be recovered. The truth is that most people who've reached say their 30s, if they were MRI'd, would show degeneration of some form, often multiple bulging discs, and this without ever having symptoms....therefore, you shouldn't assume that what your MRI shows is something that necessarily requires treatment after you recover from this episode.

I have suffered greatly for many years and with the exception of little chunks of time here and there was unwilling to give up my physical activity. The more educated Drs will realize that maintaining your physical fitness is crucial and will not counsel you to stop any physical activity that does not aggravate the situation. So if riding your bike has helped, keep doing it. If running helps (for me it usually does), then get out there and do it.
I've never known continuation of physical activity, or pushing through this type of pain to have ever worsened the condition. (note: if you ride with a curved lower back on the bike, you need to stop that)

It really is an intense pain that people can't understand if they haven't experienced it. Your Dr. should be willing to give you the super strong pain killers, and you should accept them. This is because a return to normal activity actually accelerates your recovery, and knocking out the pain so you can move around, go for a walk, swim...even run/ride is in your best interest.

One thing I do know is that everyone presents differently. There will be activities that make you feel better (or not worse) and those that make you feel clearly worse. You obviously want to avoid the latter, and I don't know what that is in your case. If you just return to your normal life you can expect ongoing acute occurrences like this...so make sure you embark on an ongoing regimen of stengthening/stretching prescribed by a qualified PT.
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [Fleck] [ In reply to ]
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I have been living with L3 L4 issues for over 10 years and I am 46 now. The first event took me down to the floor for 2 weeks. Multiple doctors, PT , chiro, massage, yoga, etc did not work. I came away with doing nothing lets you recover faster than trying to work thru it. The longer you wait for any kind of surgery if necessary the more technology will be developed. Mine has never gone away but each event is alot less painfull with only a couple bringing me to my knees. I am not a triathlete (yet) but am a rock climber. I found yoga to be the absolute worst thing for my back. I subscribe to keeping thin and core strong but you have to find what works for you. When an event happens its usually , manual labor, shoveling, lifting and not a sports event. Just take it easy for a while and then start back up slow.
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [jyeager] [ In reply to ]
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It really is an intense pain that people can't understand if they haven't experienced it.

It's interesting that when you have this sort of condition you develop an acute sense of all sorts of different levels of pain all across the scale. The pain that sends you to bed. The pain that's just their. The pain that is strong but leaves you functional. The pain that you know that you are going to need some medication to get through your day. . . . and so on. You learn to deal with it all and find your own little routines for coping.

Every now and then you also get days when you are completely and totally pain free - it's a deep and delicious feeling. You wonder how you got there, but you are not sure.


Mine is very inconsistent. It has a mind of it's own. If I do something stupid, like picking up a heavy object in an awkward position, that can set my back off and send me to bed. Yet I can ride 100K and feel fine.



Steve Fleck @stevefleck | Blog
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [Fleck] [ In reply to ]
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PT is the way to go. I am a PT and ATC and I have seen several runners and a few cyclists with herniated discs in both the neck and back. COre strengthening, positioning and gait analysis is very important in the recovery process. I have used an underwater treadmill for reintroducing running with some good results. Make sure you do not overdue it and LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. If you are doing too much, you need to minimize your activity and allow time to heal.

Damon
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [damonptatc] [ In reply to ]
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What is a good PT routine for this?
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [summitt] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:

I'm reading a book by Dr. John Sarno who blames much of the overall back pain. treatment, and the whole medical industry at fault for not fully understanding or treating the psychological factors associated with the pain.

This is why I'm looking for a positive story to help validate his book on Healing Back Pain The Mind Body Connection.

Read his book. Even paid $1000 out of my own pocket to have him look at my MRI then attend his lecture. He told me "good news, your back is fine" . The book made sense, I wanted to believe and even felt better for a while. Six months later I had surgery. See my post on the other herntiated disc thread.

I'm not saying his method won't work for you, again I agree with some of it in principal. It just didn't work long term for me. Good luck. Back Pain sux!
Last edited by: stillrollin: Jan 22, 09 12:21
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [summitt] [ In reply to ]
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Sorry, but you know, I'm gonna call bullshit on "back pain is all in your head" psychology crap. And while I have never read Dr. Sarno, I have had a herniated disc. And if you really have a herniated disc with a ruptured annulus, and the nasty proteins from the rupture are irritating your nerve root, like I had at L5-S1, the pain was EXCRUCIATING and fuck anyone who says it was all in my head.

In 20 years of tri, college athletics before that, I have never, ever, felt anything remotely like that pain, and it brought me to my knees for 3 days. I needed double hits of vicodin to crawl the the shitter, lay on the couch and, hell, to even breathe. I had my friend's hubby carry me into the docs office and to the car as the pain was so bad.

So some doc thinks I dreamed this 2 year nightmare all up because my Mom didn't breastfeed me or some bat-shit crazy psycho babble??? I THINK NOT. What I had was very real and very painful, and only prednisone, vicodin, 2 steroid injections and ultimately, a micro-discectomy could alleviate. Yeah, like I wanted to NOT race for 2 years because it was all in my head. Sorry but that is a crock.



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"so i've got that going for me, which is nice"
- Carl Spackler
Last edited by: sto: Jan 22, 09 13:51
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [sto] [ In reply to ]
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Hey guys I have been out of training going on my 2 week. I have had same problems for years gets better for a while then I am hurting, but this is first time that I have taken time off. I stay at the chiroprator I received some steriod shot this week with muscle relaxers. The Question I have should I put ice or heat on this. I think it my sciatic nerve thats killing me. ANY info on how to get back to life is truly appreciated
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [trainhard] [ In reply to ]
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please help
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [summitt] [ In reply to ]
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For OP and others on this thread that have asked this question I wish you the best. Here is condensed story that I hope gives some perspective and maby some motivation.

Had problems for years with lower back pain that was intermittent but would go away with time. One day while running achieved total failure of L4/L5 disk and was left collapsed on side of road. I've been run over by some big dudes playing college ball; had parachute malfunction that i rode in; been hit; thrown; kicked; slapped; and blown up twice--but this was the most exquisite pain I've ever felt in my life. Happened in AUG 94. Went through epidural steroids--no go. PT--no go. Finally got surgery at Walter Reed--Go. Doctor said one month do nothing then begin to work back slowly. I asked if I could do triathlons, jump out of airplanes and stuff like that? His basic answer was "we know how to fix this stuff relatively speaking but cannot predict how hard you have to go to get broken again."

After one month of bed rest i began swimming and water running in pool.

I did a little of something each day and gradually increased in time and intensity what follows are just a few selected snapshots from looking thru my training log to give you a flavor of the progression that worked for me--your mileage will vary

I had the operation on 14SEP94--on 18OCT i swam 600yards.
On 25 OCT i rode an exercise bike for 12 minutes to see how it felt
6NOV "very hard walk" 1hr No pain
25NOV 10min treadmill run--no pain
22DEC 20min first run outside; first run since 5 AUG; right leg weak but no pain.
7 JAN--30min wind trainer ride on new beam bike (beginning of a long relationship between me and Softride)

lots of treadmill runs; waterruns; windtrainer rides; versaclimber sessions in JAN/FEB--was stationed at West Point then and it's miserable cold icy outside.
15FEB 3.8mile run--legs sore from not running outside much at all; no back pain
23FEB 19.5mile bike-first outside ride on new softride & first outside ride since last AUG. No problems
12MAR First Brick 45min Windtrainer//35min run outside
1 APR 24.8mile bike felt great
15APR 2nd Brick 30mi bike (over Bear Mountain Pkwy) followed by 6.4mile run

30APR St. Anthony's 2:32:25

I've had some back problems since then but nothing Ice; Motrin and my inversion table can't take care of. Been through some semi-abusive stuff since then including multiple night combat equipment parachute jumps; a year driving around in full body armor bent 90 degrees in a HMMWV with zero shock absorption but lot-o-armor; and a slew of triathlons and a few marathons--including IMFL01.

surgery is not for everyone but it worked for me.

i wish u luck

Steve
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [summitt] [ In reply to ]
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Why donít we have a whole section on disc herniation, like the lavender room and womenís forum? That nasty little disc herniation keeps coming up. I am also a recovered disc herniation X2 microdiscectomy. Had it in May 2006 and in June 2006, same level L5S1.
Took me a while mentally to get over it but I am Back on the bike (kicking ass) swimming, not well but swimming (I envy tiger chick). Donít run much these days, but I run. (The dog comes along for the runs and she even hates it). The moral of this story is that everyone gets better in time. Listen to your body. Good luck go to the professionals for the treatment and come back to this tread for moral support.

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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [summitt] [ In reply to ]
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Have you gone for physio? If so, do all of the exercises they have given you. If not, go see one.

I had an injury about four years ago that resulted in a herniated disk - L5/S1. It got better, but I slacked off on my physio exercises and from time to time would have problems. It became a chronic thing, never terrible pain, but always annoying.

This past year when ramping up my training for IMLP my back started getting worse and worse as my training increased. One month out from IMLP I had to withdraw from the race and was only able to attend as a spectator in a wheelchair.

I ended up spending three months in bed and off of work before I had surgery which included a discotomy and a fusion. I was off work for another three months after surgery and it has taken a long time to get back to training.

All this to say, take it slow and smart. If you rush things you may do permanent damage and end up much worse off in the long run.
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [Jason B] [ In reply to ]
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Gosh - it all sounds so familiar - I was diagnosed with a herniated disc after several misdiagnoses and after 2 years of having pain down my leg. I have been in rehab for the last 6 months and finally (and v v slowly) I am getting back to normality. And by normality I do NOT mean 15 hour training weeks, which was normal for me before, but to being able to sleep and turn in my sleep and sit down and not have to kneel behind my office.

The best thing you can dom, IMHO is the following:

1.Find a good physician, whom you trust 100%. Don't be afraid to search. Of course it does not necessarily mean someone who tells you "you are fine, go run". But someone who seems to know their stuff and is sympathetic to the type of lifestyle you would like to lead. My doctor happens to be a mountain-marathoner and IM himself and realised from the first moment that being physical is part of who I am. He has given me hope when I have been down and has helped me to believe that I will be able to get back to (some level of) fitness again.

2. Do your research. Get an anatomy book. Learn as much as you can about what's happening to your body. Have someone explain your MRI's and X-rays thoroughly.

3. Keep a diary. It really helps you see the patterns. I had been told that swimming would be fine, but it was the case that I was getting pain after every swim. I tried to attribute it to all sorts of things, but ultimately my diary made it obvious. I can now go back to swimming and I am building up... currently at 1200 meters, NP (no pain...)

4. Know your body and listen to it! Accept your (current) limitations and work within them, pushing the limits v slowly. For most athletes this is soooo hard, but you have to listen to the pain!

5. Enjoy and relish the pain free days - they will come and they will get more frequent - I used to have one a month I am now around 25 per month and hoping to get better!

6. Do Pilates - it was in fact the one single thing that made me get stronger and back to fitness. Do a little every day and see your body get stronger.

All the best with your recovery.

http://journeybacktotri.blogspot.com/
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Re: Herniated Disk - how quick to recovery? [AlexSid] [ In reply to ]
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Just to give you an update. Stopped all PT and doctor follow up appointments.

Pain went from severe in week one to no pain by week 5. Back to running 30 minutes with no pain. Swimming to 1,000 meters with no pain and riding the bike for one hour no pain. Mentally I feel like I need to build up slow but physically I think I could do more.

As for poster sto, I didn't say the pain was psychological in the short-term and yes my MRI said herniated disk,which the doctor assumed was caused by my accident on New Year's day. I can't imagine having pain worse than I had the next day and the following week. Debilitating. Sarno's book focuses on people who have had pain over the course of years and continually worry about their back going out, I can't lift that box, I better not run or its going to make my back bad, I need to do core work the rest of my life, etc. Some of this is psychological some is physical.

Every back is different and hopefully I'm on the path to full recovery without the need for PT, surgery, shots, traction, etc.
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