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Herniated Disc, Six Months Later

by @ 10:59 pm
Filed under: health,running-hiking — Tags:

It's been nearly 6 months since I was diagnosed with a herniated disc. During that time I have had to make some lifestyle changes, but looking back, the adjustments haven't been as drastic as I might have feared initially. Or perhaps I am now just used to dealing with the condition.

When I was in the throes of the torturous pain, all I could think of was that my life as I knew it had ended. There would no longer be any running, no motorcycle rides, no hiking and no getting in and out of the car without the excruciating pain. Fast forward 6 months and those dramatic changes I was afraid of didn't quite materialize. There has been some changes to be sure. No lifting of heavy objects, no fast running, and occasional pain in the lower back and down the leg to contend with. But with daily exercises, sleeping on a hard surface, and avoiding long periods of sitting, I have been able to reclaim some of the freedom I used to enjoy.

Thankfully, so far I have been able to avoid steroids shots or more drastic measures like surgery. I have done quite a bit of research during this time and realize that many people aren't as fortunate as I have been, but at the same time many others live normal lives with their herniated discs.

As far as I can tell and as explained by my doctor, the herniated mass has probably shrunk with time, relieving the pressure on the spinal cord and affording me more freedom of movement. That is not to say that I am completely pain-free. There are occasional bouts with pain and discomfort which I manage with patience and a few doses of pain killers. But generally, I have resumed a relatively normal life. The prospect of another attack is on my mind every day, but I try not to let it rule over my life.

My approach to my condition has been not to succumb to a state of hopelessness. It's difficult not to, but after accepting the situation, I decided that the best way to manage it was to continue with my activities the best I could. Ditching the bed for a thin pad on the floor has helped. So have daily back exercises and conditioning. As much as I wanted to continue with my running routine, I initially down-shifted to walking. Even that was painful at first, but as time passed I was able to slowly incorporate some jogging in my daily walks until I was ready to completely switch over to jogging. On good days, I would increase the distance to 4 or 5 miles. Currently I'm on alternate days of jogging and walking and that has been relatively steady. I have also learned not push it too far. When there's pain during a jog, I heed my body and slow down to a walk. There's no reason to be stubborn and risk paying a big penalty later on.

The point is that if you are an active person who has suddenly been struck with a herniated disc don't lose hope and wallow in grief too long. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. There's always a middle ground. Accept what has happened and then make the right adjustments to battle your way back. You may never be the same as before, but concentrate on what you can salvage rather than fussing over what has been lost.

*UPDATE: Herniated Disc - 4 Years on - Mar. 2012

4 Comments »

  1. I too have been sufferiing with a herniated disc. I went from both my L4 and L5 were severly herniated a week prior to the birth of my son. After 4 months it seemed to improve and I was able to stand up straight again. My MRI showed still a herniated disc in my lower lumbar even though the pain is not as bad as it was. I can lift my legs up without too much pain and sitting is not such a chore. It is now 6 months and my doctor is recommending surgery. It scares me to think that even after all I have gone through that I possibly will be put back on bed rest for another 8 weeks or so. This time instead of a 10lb newborn I know have a 20lb active 6 month old. I too have changed many activities I used to do such as tae-bo and rollerbladding. I am opting to go without the surgery (after researching more into it) and am hoping with simple activities and as much rest I can give my back, soon it will go away. Good luck to you and your back. I can honestly say it is worse than childbirth simply because it never seems to end. Thanks for listening. Krista kbaker_10@yahoo.ca

    Comment by Anonymous — February 18, 2009 @ 1:04 pm

  2. guess every case is different but i didn't want the risk of surgery with questionable results. leaving that as the extreme last resort.

    for me, daily walking and stretching helped a lot. i hear swimming is good too. and of course, time.

    be patient, don't lose hope, but also be realistic about it. it's something we have to live with for the rest of our lives, so best to deal with it realistically.

    Comment by rh — February 20, 2009 @ 10:21 am

  3. My story is very similar, with my problems being compounded with crappy health insurance (not approving an MRI and delaying the inevitable). I ended up getting a steroid shot in my spine which was so helpful in alleviating the pain-it was unbearable. It's been about 4 months now, and I have run just a bit, I don't want to go backwards, but I have been swimming and I do think that it has been extremely beneficial to the healing process and strengthened my back muscles. I really do want to run again so I'm just going to take it slow.

    Comment by Anonymous — November 1, 2009 @ 8:16 pm

  4. thanks for your comment anon and you have my empathy. if my situation is any indication, things do improve with time. stay positive.

    as i type this i feel a twinge of pain in my back. no cure for this condition, but then i ran 16+ miles today.

    Comment by rh — November 1, 2009 @ 9:20 pm

 

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