Disc's of doom, honest advice from experience

Posted , 7 users are following.

Hi all,

I'm new member & would like to make some constructive supporting comments to any who have this most frustrating injury.

Back ground: 

I'm a member of L4/5 herniated disc club, & have been for over 24 years now. I was 23 when a scan showed the problem, too young at the time to risk surgery.

I spent 2 years in a gym 2 hours day 5 days a week restructuring my back & 5 years cycling 30 miles a day to work (rather than drive) – all was fine.

I did a martial art ‘Aikido’ 3 times a week, and in naivety thought that once I was super fit & strong, my martial art would maintain my core & back, as life issues & changes of jobs meant the gym & cycling slowly dwindled - how wrong I was...

At 34 the back finally said – ‘enough’ & I could hardly walk, I lost the job & I had an operation to minimise the impacts. I had a Wallace ligamentation, which is basically a block put between the vertebrae to stop them crushing the disc. It took away 95 % of the symptoms, but left my back as weak as a kitten.

I followed the programme got fit, but never got back to where I previously was, again I worked hard with my martial art & got to a stable level, but 10 years on, the wear &  tear of the martial art & an unstable core saw me slowly spiralling round the drain. 

I’m 50 now, just come back from my 3rd lay up of 2015, all have been a minimum of a week on my back.

A new scan shows the disc has ruptured in the opposite direction, but the Wallace ligamentation has held up to all the abuse I have given it! (A result I thought I’d knackered it still doing my aikido)

For me its surgery this year or change my life & do what I have avoided doing for whatever reason I had at the time.

In my time playing with my back & fibbing to myself I’ve been doing enough, I have found that:

Swimming helps & makes the back a lot looser & comfortable (swimming bores me, surfing’s fun though!)

Cycling really works to tighten up the core & minimise vertebrae displacement, but stiffens the back a fair bit.

Pilates I found last year, it works, slow easy & you feel complete muscle tiredness for the simple work outs.

Using a standing desk is far more comfortable than at sitting at a desk- once you get used to the change of which muscles are being used (@4 weeks of being uncomfortable & muscles learning stamina)

Fact: you have to change your life style & plan exercise into your life for the rest of your days, the sooner you accept this & set about adding it in your back will improve, either do:

A small daily core specific Pilates work out

Or, take up cycling 3 times a week (every 2nd or 3rd day/about 10 miles each ride will do it)

Or, go swimming 3 times a week

Or, join a gym & do a specific work out for stamina to the weak core & back

There were one or two on the site asking about benefits for this back condition, if you are even considering this, to me you have already given up & you will spiral down to a place where there is no return from, a wheel chair…

No one can help you with your back, you have to do the work, you have to develop the will power to maintain a semblance of a normal life.

Me personally, I’ll fight going in that direction with everything I have. 

Now after nearly 30 years, I finally I accept I have to change my life style (not pretend to do it) to minimise my back condition, to priorities my back health above work, social & relaxation demands, because if I don’t do this, the other 3 demands can’t be met & my quality of life will be a dog pile.

I say this with an open heart: If anything, please read this & come to the same conclusion, but do it a lot quicker than me & save a few years of pain you didn’t need to endure as much.

Onward & upward one of the buckle back gang…

2 likes, 13 replies

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13 Replies

  • Posted


    I am new too. 21 years old and now 5 weeks post Micro-Discectomy. My sciatica is gone now however, the neurosurgeon told me i will probably never be the same again. To be honest since hearing that ive felt so depressed. Before the surgery i was training for bodybuilding nd powerlifting competitions. Possibly one of the only people left that genuinely trained hard totally naturally. Ultimately that was what broke me. I was doing on average 4-5 hours of intense exercise a day, 2-3 hours of weights, cycling, krav maga you name it i was doing it. I was doing everything i could to lean up and  eventually i ran myself into the ground and wrecked a disk. I trained around it for months and eventually lost all mobility in my left leg. Once i started being in 4-5 hours of exrutiating pain a day i had to stop all of this and seek help. Since ive gained an outrageous amount of weight and just feel terrible. After the doctor saying i wont be the same again im very scared that this is it for me with sports and im 21 years old, with sport being one of my main time commitments and stress allieviators. Is there light at the end of this tunnel or am i going to have to train with caution for the rest of my life?

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    • Posted

      Hi Chris, keep your head up mate, you can still enjoy sport, you just have to revise the way train & play...

      You also have to be realistic & change your view on winning & losing, e.g. were you as good as you used to be - not the right thinking - it should be 'I'm different & have a new skill set to challenge myself & those I compete against.'

      I'm on my 4th change now, - added to the back the knee means I have to stop getting in close to take down all the monstsers I fight with, annoying as i was damn good up close :-)...

      Add to this you are 21 now- I'm 50- science will come to your aid soon - gene therapy & lab grown cartilage/ ligamnets etc are on the way, the futures bright, you just have to push yourself in an intellegent & considered way, think long term 'I want to be such & such for 10 - 20 years' not the best for 2 years. (& pass on your mistakes to stop other young impressionables making oyur mistakes)

      Love & luck


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  • Posted

    I agree completely with this I'm 34 and very fit I slip my disc about twice a year same one usually.you can't just hope your body will protect you by itself you most train it and give it the strength to help you. I find yoga very helpful ,cycling the hills are good to, but this can tighten it a little,so it's important to mix it up with lots of moderate stretching and swimming.

    Overall just think ...there is always someone worse off than you.Don't get complacent either because it will catch you out.something as simple as a sneeze can have you .

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  • Posted

    Hi there. My world came crashing down last November. I foolishly got a work colleague to drive me home after collapsing at work. I got myself to doctors who thought it kidney stones at first. I spent weeks going back and forth. Tried all pain meds and morphine. I missed my daughters 21St and big family events. I learnt the hard way and paid for a private mri. I spent months relying on others. The pain has been one I do not wish on anyone.let alone how scary. Was told it was a disc prolapse on vertebrae 5. Went back to surgery with results where I was informed we can only send you to physio. Cut a long and very painful story short. A family member who could no longer see me in pain paid for a epidural to try and ease the pain. In the mean time I lost everything. My husband struggled to see me in pain. My home as I lost my job in the process. Day by day I try and make sense of the last few months. I was offered more drugs from my surgery total prescriptions is now nearly 300 pound. Your journey has been inspiring. I find it hard to see people as confidence is low. I remember my gym days with fondness yet the thought of trying fills me with dread. Onwards and upwards is the only way forward and as you said only one's self can do that. Thank you for allowing others to read your story.


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    • Posted

      My heart goes out to you sweetheart, when you are low & hurting, your world crumbling around you is the last thing you need!

      Your hubby struggling to see you in pain, yeap as a bloke I can appreciate what he’s thinking, he’d take every bit of it himself & more to get you whole. When he’s an ass or snappy it’s because he feels guilty that he can’t take the pain away, try to hold onto the good in you both, when you are both low, realize that those love you can break from the pressure, even if you don’t…

      Even when in pain, we have to step back at some point & realize, this is a journey we take mostly on our own. (Unless the loved one suffered from this horrible recurring debilitating problem) When you snap, get it out of your system fast & get back to the one you love, remind them the real you still exists…

      Job - you can get a new one when you already, or re-evaluate what’s really important:

      Walking in the woods with your family regularly or sitting at a desk making you back worse for 2 weeks a year in the sun… (Sorry not meaning to teach you to suck eggs)

      A bonus of our problem – we have a valid excuse to sit thru box sets!

      A home doesn’t have 4 walls & a roof - that’s just an abode, a home has love, caring & a place of refuge, normally found with some warm arms & soft kisses! (Oh god, I went all poetic!)

      Gym/ dread, I’m feeling you, honestly, but got to be bad cop here (sorry) –

      What’s to dread, you are going to be in pain during stages of you lifelong back condition, some you chose, some you will have no control over.

      Do you want to ‘only remember’ the pleasure of your body enjoying a workout & the feel good factor, or do you want to continue to ‘experience it’ & have these good days as a buffer against the bad days?

      Start small, everything you can build up to is a WIN, you know what you can do, do it & add a little more, recover & do it again, it’s only muscle memory & stamina that hold you back. J

      Build up a little routine that gets you moving, even when you are feeling rough, use endorphins & your body’s natural feel good chemicals to off-set the rot we suffer.

      Drugs- use them only when you can’t move well enough operate a semblance of a normal life. They DO warp your perspective very easily (impacts your loved ones there too) & coming down off them is always an itch you can’t scratch!

      Prescription charges, my thoughts - for these problems they should not be a repeat charge

      The GP has documented a long term issue, which will not get better, only worse with age & lack of exercise. Why is it you can get free drugs for e.g. diabetes, but not a back condition which will stop you working/ moving/ potentially becoming a burden on the NHS, etc.

      My story, not even close to one of worst I’ve heard, there’s always someone worse off, we share, we grow…

      Onward & upward, that’s my girl :-)

      love & luck


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    • Posted

      Hello again

      Thank you so much for your reply. I had an epidural thanks to family a few weeks back. It took most of the pain away this did take some time - about 3 weeks. I have been walking more and more. Pain in back has started to return. I was lucky enough to see a consultant finally on the nhs who said I was a candidate for microdiscectomy. The bulge was not huge just in the place catching the nerve. I am not sure about the surgery or to keep trying an epidural. There is such vast and conflicting advice. Having trouble with the site too.It keeps loosing what I write in the forum lol.

      Hope your having a pain free day today.

      Thanks again

      Sam. Gym next week. Fingers crossed

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    • Posted

      Please update us on your microdiscectomy if you go ahead with it, I'm interested as it sounds like my back is similar to yours. Epidural two weeks ago now, didn't get rid of the leg pain completely and now back pain coming back. I'm considering surgery but all info and peoples experiences so different.
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    • Posted

      Hi chantelle

      At the moment I am very scared to go for the surgery and still waiting for a date. Sorry to hear you are in a similar situation. I am off work due to back but I am expected to return or loose the job which causes a whole heap of other issues. What medication if any are you taking? This has been a downward spiral for me hope it's better for you.

      Samantha x

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    • Posted

      Hello chantelle

      How are you going? Just wanted to update you. Was advised to postpone surgery due to a gyne investigation and need to find out results from that. I was told that was ok to do so but then informed I may have to go through the whole process again which I am mot to happy about.

      Hope all is ok with you.

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  • Posted

    Hi all,

    It's been a while, sorry I’ve been AWOL...

    I hope if you are reading this you are on a good day, if so: get out in the sun for ten minutes, warm you’re buckled back (& your face), sip a coffee & Smile. :-)

    ?If you are on a bad day, I feel for you, i really do...

    Can you remember your last good day? If so, do you want to just remember it, or let your back turn you into a cave troll?

    No, then dig in & do something, take the little wins, score them on points & next day get one more point & stay active.

    If you're in post op recovery, hang in there my pain kin, IT GETS BETTER!

    Use the meds guilt free & be careful, you may feel ok, but there's a temporary limit to stop you undoing all 'Steve Austin' you have gone through!

    Be the tortoise today, not hare, long game my friends, play the long game. :-)

    As for me:

    What has the crumpled ninja been doing: I have been training, been adding a few things in, cutting a few things out & seeing where it took me

    Current Physical/ mental status: On a good day

    Body's current physical condition: A bag of poo!

    Current Med’s:Occasional Tramadol/ diazepam cocktail, a rare blue mini morphine wonder bullet, a couple of soft pain pills when it just arthritis sneaking up on me.

    Medical update: Last lower disc has now gone! (Oh Sh**********t!)

    So I have the option:

    a. Have spinal fusion done soon & be flat on my back/ crab like for months, then be a robot

    b. Leave it to naturally compress & fuse - (occasional injection to get me on my feet when it gets bad) and end up riddle with more of my ol' enemy arthritis

    Hummm, let me think? - No bugger both of those, so what can I do now to remove decline? - change career & do more 'but less demanding' health activities (lots more)

    Necessary changes:

    Stop fighting, stop break falling, only teach Aikido & reinvent a method of training to stop the wear & tear...

    Build up my mobility stamina to be all day active

    Find a job where I'm able to be physically mobile all the time & add to my back health routines.

    Off the bucket list:

    Never try skiing

    No more bungee jumping

    On the bucket list:

    Find a sexy lady Pilates instructor who will help me become a stable & tones ninja (Ok, not sexy lady, wife will break both legs & she can actually catch me now I'm a ripple!)

    3 rules to recover by:

    1. Lose some sofa time,

    2. Recover mobility - even if it’s just the buckle back shuffle for a little while (do an unseen 5 minute dad dance like me!)

    3. Recover positive thinking - don't moan that takes hours or more & becomes a habit: 1 minute to shout out your frustration (or swear - that feels good & I run out of swear words)- let it go...

    So that's me, might take a late lunch today & get out in the sun - sweet!


    Love & luck to all the buckle back gang


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    • Posted

      Hiya I am having surgery in 5 days time . Think it's wear they shave the disc.

      I had the injection which after 3 daysthe pain came back . They put me on gabapentine which helped me get back to work all for 6 weeks . When last Friday I over done it and I have never been I'm so much pain in my life... they put me on morphine which did help apart from me collapseing on floor and being sick .

      So decided am not taking that anymore and I do with tramadol instead and hit water bottles .

      After over 8 months of pain I feel I don't have much option but to have operation.

      As am at my worse now I can't do anything ... I even had let my partner help me on toilet. I felt so ashamed , yes I am scared to have operation. But what choice do I have .... will it work will I be free who knows .

      Good luck to you and everyone else that's going threw this coz it's awfull

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    • Posted

      Hi Donna,

      Sorry to here you're low & in pain, I hope the tramodol helps & you manage to find that position with hot water bottles & cushions that gives you a little respite. :-)

      FYI: I use a cheap Aldi wrap around electric heat pad, I can turn it off & on as my back reacts to the heat - I find it gives me more control of how stiff & sore I am...

      Surgery- only you can decide when it's time to go down that route, if you think its time, then it is & it takes courage to take that step.

      I'm resisting it, I have the pain threshold of a neanderthal (what's got me into this mess in the first place) & because I have more good days than bad at the moment & I think I have a way forward for me.

      I'm under no illusion though, my time will come, & I could be wrong about surgery earler in life or later on, & be worse off for it, it will always be a gamble...

      Ashamed - I know we feel this way when we are in this dark place, but you should not be - this is your partner, a flip of the coin, a twist of fate & your roles could easily have been reversed.

      IT IS WHAT IT IS... such a flippant phrase but it it core essence is bang on - you take what life gives you & make the best of what you have & don't condemn yourself or you situation as hopless.

      Simplify it-  it's just a stage you have to go through & move on from.

      Shame- no one is walking in your shoes, so no one should judge or look down upon you, if they do, well sorry to be crude F**k them, they are closed minded & lack 'your experience' to be that way .

      The best of luck in 5 days, see you out the other side, my love & thougths for you & your family at this worrying time.

      Love & luck


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    • Posted

      Thank you so much Steve

      Wise words you have .

      The surgery was a big descion for me as am so scared . This pain I can't deal with and the quality of life I have . I can't even sit on a chair longer then 5 min. My leg swollen and me knee.

      And my goal is to be able to get on that plan end of august to go to niragra falls smile

      Well I hope the pain says manageable for you and you don't have to go down surgery root.

      I hoped I didn't have to

      Thank you for your reply x

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