So three weeks ago I was happy finishing the Nations Triathlon.
Two weeks ago I did the Time Trial at Hains Point.
Last week I was in the Emergency Room with a herniated disk. After a week of meds, I still have numbness in my right leg and shooting pains. Now the doctor is talking surgery. Before I go under the knife, does anyone out there have any thoughts, suggestions, etc. Help
Well, surgery should be a last resort. I suffered a similar injury in my neck earlier this year, leading to weakness in my shoulder and arm. Found that Sports and Spinal Physical Therapy have been helpful, as have been rest, traction, ice.
I would strongly caution you to get at least ONE other opinion before you consider surgery.
When I was facing back surgery a few years ago, I ended up getting five "second" opinions, and when none of them agreed on what the problem was, I chose non-surgical treatments. It was a long road back, but thank god I have yet to need surgery.
I was probably in the best shape of my life when I herniated a disc about 2 weeks after completing the 2008 Columbia tri, so I feel your pain and frustration. Nerve pain is the worst and almost impossible to treat - the kind of drugs they give you numb your senses more than the pain.
Most people that have herniated discs can suffer through the pain and eventually get over it. The body has a way of absorbing the fluid. But if it is a really big piece of the disc that herniated (as in my case) sometimes surgery is the only option.
definitely get a second opinion before going into surgery. You have to weigh the risks against your quality and life and whether or not you can even get around. I can tell you that in my case, the surgery was very successful - it completely eliminated the pain almost immediately. It was 6 weeks before I was back to small amounts of running, etc. That was June 2008, and this summer i was able to complete 3 tris.
I will add that like you, I was very very hesitant to even think about surgery and put it off as long as i could. In my case, that ended up being a bad decision, because all that time the disc was pressing up against the sciatic nerve ended up causing permanent nerve damage in my left calf.
email me at email@example.com if need an ortho reference or just have general q's. And good luck!!!!
I was diagnosed with the same about 5 years ago, with some pretty bad pain in my lower back shooting down my left leg. My initial response to this post is that after only a week, the jump to surgery seems a bit premature. Everyone has his or her own tolerance for pain, and back surgery is certainly an option on the table and is required for certain situations, but it is not a decision to take lightly nor is it guaranteed to be a complete fix, and the advise I received was that this is really a last resort. There are any number of other options to pursue, though unfortunately there are no guarantees with these either. Like other nagging injuries, time may prove to be the best healer. For a number of weeks, I was dealing with pain that did not respond to even the strongest pain killers and muscle relaxers. Over the next year, I did a combination of "block" injections around the area of the disc, physical therapy, and even tried some yoga (which is completely not something I thought I'd ever do). I also visited a chiropractor, and an osteopathic physician. I think the physician did the most good, though this was one of the later treatments I went with and I was dealing with significantly less pain at the time. In the end, I wound up taking nearly a full year off from activity... not what anyone wants to hear, I'm sure. This was probably a bit extreme, because I actually found that once I started up again, I started feeling better from working out and loosening the muscles. Again, everyone's experience with this type of injury is different. For me, I found that there were no instant/aggressive answers and that time along with some TLC for my back were best. That's my 2 cents. Ben
Thanks. Lots to chew on here. A second opinion is definitely on the cards. I got a shot of cortizone into the disk a two days ago and spoke to the doc who did that. He says try another shot next week. If I can get the pain down to a level where I can walk to the metro again, I'll be happy and then go the "alternative" medicine way.
I agree with the thread--i herniated L4/L5 and with therapy, core exercises, and ice everyday, (and switching to triathlons as opposed to marathons and listening to my body) manage to keep it in check. 2nd opinions are always good, and surgery is the last resort, I went to professional sports and rehab on G street downtown and they were great.
Good luck, and keep us posted.
Thanks for all the kind words and ideas. Tomorrow is the big day - back with the orthopedic surgeon. He has baked off the surgery comments as I'm now pain free (mostly), but still can't do much or anything let alone train. Hopefully PT starts next week. Any ideas on where to go that's near the red line and takes Blue Cross?