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  1. #1
    Finance Crew CFO \G/'s Avatar
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    Bulging Disc not Recovering

    12 months ago I was diagnosed with a bulging disc which has given me trouble ever since. 6 months ago I decided to leave the gym altogether to give myself a chance at full recovery (at great detriment to my physique and general health).

    Today was my first day back after 6 months of no weight room work at all. I did my first 3 sets of squats (120lbs x 5) which was a very comfortable weight for me. After I felt great and my back felt 100%, but the I moved to bent over rows and BANG. It's official my back lasted less than half of a Rippetoe's session before going again. ****.

    I feel terrible now and as though I will never get back to 100%, what are my options regarding treatment that might fix this problem properly?
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  2. #2
    'Defiant to Injuries' Ironlife's Avatar
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    That is very unfortunate for you sir,
    I have really no idea what you can do just talk to your doctor or physio if you are seeing one, but i think that core training and core stability might be beneficial to you.
    But i am not a doctor so don't take my advice lol.
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  3. #3
    Never give up. user345008781's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by GhostLifter View Post
    12 months ago I was diagnosed with a bulging disc which has given me trouble ever since. 6 months ago I decided to leave the gym altogether to give myself a chance at full recovery (at great detriment to my physique and general health).

    Today was my first day back after 6 months of no weight room work at all. I did my first 3 sets of squats (120lbs x 5) which was a very comfortable weight for me. After I felt great and my back felt 100%, but the I moved to bent over rows and BANG. It's official my back lasted less than half of a Rippetoe's session before going again. ****.

    I feel terrible now and as though I will never get back to 100%, what are my options regarding treatment that might fix this problem properly?
    Leave all direct back exericses and do you chest and arms in order to keep things ticking. Don't take the risk dude.
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  4. #4
    Registered User gimpy835's Avatar
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    no squats, no deads, dont do exercises for time being that will put a lot of pressure downward on your spine at all. work your core and take your time and dont push yourself too much till you find out what your comfortable with. did you have an MRI to find the bulging disk? what have you done so far? whats docs say?
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    Originally Posted by gimpy835 View Post
    no squats, no deads, dont do exercises for time being that will put a lot of pressure downward on your spine at all. work your core and take your time and dont push yourself too much till you find out what your comfortable with. did you have an MRI to find the bulging disk? what have you done so far? whats docs say?
    Docs have said that I have a bulging disc and they expect a full recovery eventually. I had an MRI and it revealed I have disc bulges at L4-L5 and another slight bulge at L5-S1, which are encroaching into my spinal cavity and placing pressure on my spinal cord, causing pain and sciatica.
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  6. #6
    Physiotherapist Fresch's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by GhostLifter View Post
    Docs have said that I have a bulging disc and they expect a full recovery eventually. I had an MRI and it revealed I have disc bulges at L4-L5 and another slight bulge at L5-S1, which are encroaching into my spinal cavity and placing pressure on my spinal cord, causing pain and sciatica.
    1. What rehab have you done?
    2. Why on earth would you start back after 6 months on something as demanding as a Rippetoes program??
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  7. #7
    Registered User paul0616's Avatar
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    A bulging disc can be managed and nursed back into health. Generally, that's a symptom of an unhealthy back, either bad posture, lack of movement (excessive sitting), or else loading up the back improperly. Alot of people have bulging disc's and don't have any symptoms, but it would show on an MRI, if they were to get one.
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  8. #8
    Registered User trikster's Avatar
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    Wow, I feel your pain, I started out with a bulging disc (I didn't know that was the problem at that time), while in the military.. I was in quite a lot of pain, and kept working through it, at times I couldn't walk.. I kept doing back exercises and a lot of ab workouts.. I was determined to go on with my favorite thing in life! - I ended up about 2 years later having completely destroyed my lower back. I cannot remember what the exact diagnosis was, it was so long ago ~1993. But it turned out that there wasn't really any discs left in my back from L2 to L5 (totally degenerated my discs). My spine was destroyed and the sciatica was sooo horrible.

    I was sent around the US to different doctors to get opinions on what my options were and I finally found a doctor I trusted and opted for surgery. I have L2 - L5 fused together now with rods and pins.. akk! But I will have to say, if you have a bulging disc and you know it! Lay off the weights. Stretch and rest, do exercises that do not require you to support yourself via back muscles or any back exercise. Crawling to the bathroom, and riding in a wheel chair for a few years really sucked for me.

    Good Luck - and if you do see 1 doctor, see more - I had so many different doctors give me a diff, diagnosis and possible outcomes. MRIs, Anti-inflammatory drugs, pain killers - I went through hell. (but the job I had made me push myself to the extreme limits that my body could handle...) SO don't trust just one doctor or other gym rats.

    P.S. The surgeon that did my surgery was a sports doctor, my surgery lasted 9 hours ....
    Last edited by trikster; 10-02-2008 at 04:55 AM.
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  9. #9
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    lol oops.....just made my own thread before reading yours.


    YES!!! I have the same problem...about a year ago I hurt one of my discs squatting. At about the middle of September this year, I hurt the same disc, so now it's really inflamed/bulging. Im on flexeril and Percocet..

    My physical therapist has me doing ice w/ e-stim every morning. After that, he foam rolls my glutes/IT-Band. Following that, I usually do press ups on a table (sorta like stretching your abs - takes pressure off the disk). Contrast bath might be a good option too. Cold for 2 min, hot for 1 min - repeat several times.

    Today, I went on an inversion table, that helped a lot in elongating my enitre spine and helped to take the pressure off that bulging disk.

    My advice - just don't back squat anymore. That's probably what I'm going to follow from now on. Do variations such as 1 leg squats, front squat, hack squat. Throw in walking lunges, dead lifts (which put less stress on my back when preformed correctly). I'm positive that there's ample substitutes out there for regular squats. When we eventually recover, we just have to be more cautious on what the limitations of our backs are.

    Hope this helps - i feel your pain (im actually in pain right now, lol)

    -Steveo
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  10. #10
    Never give up. user345008781's Avatar
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    Reading this made me nearly piss myself. I don't do any back work directly nor squats, in fact i limit the amount of weights i do standing to limit the possilbity of getting a bulging disk? Am i pretty unlikely to get one if i play safe? Also, is the symptom of a bulging disc pretty much always pain?
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  11. #11
    Registered User Logical95's Avatar
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    So a bulging/herniated disc is the same thing?

    I generally thought that you needed surgery to correct a bulging disc or herniated disc....

    They can resolve with just rest and anti-inflams and PT?

    Does the bulging disc just go back into place? lol....i dont think so....

    I heard from many ppl that surgery is really the only way.....

    Can anyone shed light on this?
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    I never heard of anyone making "a full recovery" after a back injury. Once you injure your back you pretty much have to be careful for the rest of your life. I would take squats and leg presses off your list completely.

    I'm 37 and have 3 herniated disc's that all resulted from squats and leg presses. I had a laminectomy on the L-5/S-1 disc in 2002. I live with constant back pain on a daily basis.

    My injuries started when I was 18. I was doing squats one day and felt a sharp pinch in my lower back. After about 20 mins. I was in agonzing pain and could not walk. I went to the doctor and he gave me some muscle relaxers and anti-inflamitories. He also told me to continue doing what I was doing (quack doctor !!). A year or so later, I was doing leg presses and "bam" the same thing. The point is I kept compounding the situation and it eventually led to surgery.

    Your never going to recover 100% from a back injury. You just make your back weaker for the next time.
    Last edited by TxRR; 10-02-2008 at 10:53 AM.
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  13. #13
    Never give up. user345008781's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by TxRR View Post
    I never heard of anyone making "a full recovery" after a back injury. Once you injure your back you pretty much have to be careful for the rest of your life. I would take squats and leg presses off your list completely.

    I'm 37 and have 3 herniated disc's that all resulted from squats and leg presses. I had a laminectomy on the L-5/S-1 disc in 2002. I live with constant back pain on a daily basis.

    My injuries started when I was 18. I was doing squats one day and felt a sharp pinch in my lower back. After about 20 mins. I was in agonzing pain and could not walk. I went to the doctor and he gave me some muscle relaxers and anti-inflamitories. He also told me to continue doing what I was doing (quack doctor !!). A year or so later, I was doing leg presses and "bam" the same thing. The point is I kept compounding the situation and it eventually led to surgery.

    Your never going to recover 100% from a back injury. Your just making your back weaker for the next time.
    Good point dude. I'm trying to avoid any injury at all. I had some lumbar bruising form leaning back doing BB curls, and now have taken the road of safety over the amount of weight. I'll never do squats, leg presses or deadlifts for that exact reason.
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    Registered User Logical95's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by harryjohnstone View Post
    I'll never do squats, leg presses or deadlifts for that exact reason.
    Well then your not gonna ever gain any good muscle mass either.....Squats and Deads are the best compound exercises for gaining mass and improving your core.....

    Not being critical, just sayin, your not gonna get a nice proportioned body doing isolation exercises like dumbell curls and shoulder presses.....
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    Registered User TxRR's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Logical95 View Post
    Well then your not gonna ever gain any good muscle mass either.....Squats and Deads are the best compound exercises for gaining mass and improving your core.....

    Not being critical, just sayin, your not gonna get a nice proportioned body doing isolation exercises like dumbell curls and shoulder presses.....
    It's not worth the risk. Once you mess up your back it's for life. The margin of error on squats and deadlifts is pretty slim. One wrong move and your going to be in alot of pain for a long time and surgery is almost a for sure thing.
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    Registered User Logical95's Avatar
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    You are right the margin of error is pretty slim....thats why you dont see many people in the gym doin Squats and Deads...atleast at my gym.....that is why PROPER FORM is always preached when doing those exercises because if you do things like round your back you are gonna be in for a world of hurt....

    Check your ego at the door, do only weight you can handle, and use proper form...
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    Physiotherapist Fresch's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Logical95 View Post
    So a bulging/herniated disc is the same thing?

    I generally thought that you needed surgery to correct a bulging disc or herniated disc....

    They can resolve with just rest and anti-inflams and PT?

    Does the bulging disc just go back into place? lol....i dont think so....

    I heard from many ppl that surgery is really the only way.....

    Can anyone shed light on this?
    A bulging disc is not the same as a herniated disc.

    A bulging disc is just that: it is bulging out somewhere like a half-deflated tyre due to wear and tear and maybe some history of injury. It is normal with ageing to develop bulging discs.

    A herniated disc is where the rim of the disc has been torn right through and the gel substance from the centre of the disc has been extruded.

    Both conditions can be painful or painless..many peple have these conditions and don't know it.

    A herniation can decrease in size over time.

    The decision on surgery needs to take account of:
    1- pain or symptoms such as tingling, numbness, muscle weakness
    2 - is there any demonstrated pressure on a nerve due to the bulge / herniation
    3 - has the disc been identified as the source of the problems correctly? Not just guessing that it is bulging / herniated therefore it must be the painful disc
    4 - what forms of rehab have been tried

    >99% of back injuries do not require surgery, just good rehab and time
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    Registered User TxRR's Avatar
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    Back surgery is considered elective surgery but then you have to consider one's quality of life.
    Last edited by TxRR; 10-02-2008 at 11:09 PM.
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    Originally Posted by Fresch View Post
    1. What rehab have you done?
    2. Why on earth would you start back after 6 months on something as demanding as a Rippetoes program??
    1. I have been doing a number of rehab exercises (as recommended by my physiotherapist) using a swiss ball and body weight only (including short bridges, back extensions and a number of additional exercises which I do not know how to describe).

    2. You make a very good point, the truth is I was young and stubborn and refused to accept my limitations. I was so desperate to be able to do real training again that I tried to ignore the injury and push through it.... and yeah, here I am.

    Originally Posted by paul0616 View Post
    A bulging disc can be managed and nursed back into health. Generally, that's a symptom of an unhealthy back, either bad posture, lack of movement (excessive sitting), or else loading up the back improperly. Alot of people have bulging disc's and don't have any symptoms, but it would show on an MRI, if they were to get one.
    My bulges were indeed diagnosed by MRI.

    Originally Posted by harryjohnstone View Post
    Reading this made me nearly piss myself. I don't do any back work directly nor squats, in fact i limit the amount of weights i do standing to limit the possilbity of getting a bulging disk? Am i pretty unlikely to get one if i play safe? Also, is the symptom of a bulging disc pretty much always pain?
    Your clearly a genius, 6''0 and barely 160lbs yet willing to laugh at peoples decisions to try and change thier body. Pull your head out your ass and try and be helpful next time someone asks you for help.

    Originally Posted by TxRR View Post
    Back surgery is considered elective surgery but then you have to consider one's quality of life.
    What are the surgical options for bulging disc injuries and what are thier implications for long term quality of life and ability to play sports?
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    i had L5-S1 fusion for disk that collapsed inwards from a car accident i had in 04. in feb 07 i had the surgery and i have gotten better but didnt even occur to me to think about back surgery until they did everything they could to avoid it. granted they didnt realize how bad my disk was till i was in surgery and they were pulling the disk out but you have a lot of options before jumping to surgery. would def get a few other opinions but if the doctors told you they expect you to recover fully then get the though of surgery out of your mind.

    surgery is a SOB to put it slightly, i have nerve damage from the initial unjury along with scar tissue from the surgery and the plate and screws in my back so i have pain on a daily basis, just not nearly as bad as it used to be. not to mention 1 surgery at young age is kinda setting you up for more down the road since a fusion especially is going to take a pivot point out of your back and put more pressure on disk above and or below the surgery site and can cause more problems later in life!
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    Originally Posted by GhostLifter View Post
    What are the surgical options for bulging disc injuries and what are thier implications for long term quality of life and ability to play sports?
    You originally stated that you were diagnosed with a bulging disc then you went back to the gym and re-injured your back. Do you know what kind of damage you did the second time?

    Surgery isn't normally required for bulging discs. Surgery is usually a last resort for herniated disc's. For herniated disc's there are different types of none evasive surgeries such as laminectomy or microdiscectomy. The more severe type of back surgery is a spinal fusion.

    As far as the long term quality of life and ability to play sports......thats up to the individual person. There are pro football players that have had back surgery and are able to return to the sport. Other people may have limited mobility.

    I have three hernitated discs (had surgery on one) and lift weights on a regular basis. The difference between before and after my injuries is that I don't do squats, deadlifts or leg presses. I am very cautious about what and how I lift.
    Last edited by TxRR; 10-03-2008 at 10:57 AM.
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    Originally Posted by TxRR View Post
    I have three hernitated discs (had surgery on one) and lift weights on a regular basis. The difference between before and after my injuries is that I don't do squats, deadlifts or leg presses. I am very cautious about what and how I lift.
    Yup I have a bulging disc in my lower back (L4/L5), and a herniated disc in my neck (C6/C7). The bulging disc in my lower back was primarily irritated by heavy incline leg press. I would do 10 sets of incline leg press, 10 reps a set, with usually 810 to 900 lbs. I would warm up beforehand and build up to that weight. I would also have what I viewed to be as good form...that is to say, I had a slow and controlled motion, wouldn't bounce, and I wouldn't let my legs pass 90 degrees. The further you go down on the leg press, the more likely you are to round your lower back and mess up a disc. Even though I had decent form, some people's backs just aren't built for this type of weight. The MRI shows that my lower back curves more than normal and that I also have a bit of scoliosis, which the doctor said for sure could have made me more prone to getting a bulging disc.

    Besides leg presses, squats and deadlifts also irritate my lower back. Even though they are great mass building exercises, I've really come to the conclusion that I can't be doing these exercises because the pain that results in my right buttocks is way too annoying.

    I can no longer do dumbell shrugs without my neck and upper back killing me the next day due to the herniated disc in my neck. It doesn't matter if I use perfect form either, there will still be pain. In fact, I have a little bit of pain every day of my life from my neck, but can worsen it with shrugs or doing something like a headstand (which is how I hurt it in the first place).

    To answer people's questions, these injuries never heal by themselves. However, the injuries can flame up and subside. Surgery is a last resort. Doctors will have you try anti-inflammatories and exhaust other remedies before they put you into back surgery, because back surgery is no joke.
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    Bulging Discs

    Hey, I know this is an old forum but I am suffering from similar injury at the moment.

    Disc eventually slipped while road running in Jan 12. I used to play a lot of rugby and used to gym 3-4times a week.

    I took up road running 24months ago.

    I thought I was 100%recovered in March 2012 following weeks of physio and core work in the gym and went for a run, only to bring the pain right back.

    Again I thought I was recovering well doing core work for another 8 weeks, I attempted to squat 40kg In the gym and my back went again in May 2012.

    I wen to see a consultant ( yesterday 15th june) who carried out an MRI and confirmed I had one prolapsed disc and
    a tear in another disc.

    He has advised that I concentrate on my core work, avoid high impact fitness (running) for now and totally avoid any weight liftin that puts pressure on my lower back for ever (squats & deads). I just restarting my core exercises now and i am going to take his advise onboard and take the recovery slower this time. I've taken up cycling recently ( low impact and only form of exercise I could do with out pain) and I'm determined to learn to swim as I heard this is a great exercise for recovery.

    Can any one provide an update on their recovery progress?

    I need to know if I will be able to get back to the same active lifestyle? (minus squats, deads and road running!)

    Thanks,

    Patrick
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    Registered User xfish24's Avatar
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    Found this thread and thought I'd offer my recent experience.

    As a result of a car accident, I suffered a herniated disc (C6/C7) and an additional bulging disc (C5/C6) last November. I kept training through the pain until I literally couldn't train anymore, resulting in near complete paralysis of my left arm. Today, I am near 100% recovery as MRI has shown my neck to have reabsorbed virtually the entire herniation and the bulge has subsided significantly. For those that say you cannot fully recover, I might contest this point. The problems that I will contend with in the future simply lie in the fact that scarred discs are not as strong as an intact disc. For my case, i am able to alleviate most of the concern of future herniations by focusing on appropriate strengthening of my neck's stabilizer muscles.

    For my recovery, minimal physical therapy was performed. I went through traction for roughly 2 weeks and spinal adjustments for that duration as well. In the months from January until May, I simply worked on body weight stabilization exercises (essentially various forms of rear deltoid raises) and push up variations to retrain my nerves in my left arm from the damage the suffered. I had taken a course of steroidal anti-inflammatories, and am presently on a NSAID taken daily. However, I have successfully returned to lifting in the past month with no recurrent pain. At this point, I have been cleared to do everything except back squat and overhead press. My current training is largely bodyweight in focus to insure that I don't get overzealous and train heavy without having the proper muscular stability built up again. I am beginning to incorporate weighted exercises at this point, but essentially am working with a fraction of the weights I used to throw around.

    My injury was not due to lifting, but was simply aggravated by it. My shoulder attachments to my spine are abnormally low, thus I have increased tension on my cervical vertebrae when doing most forms of lifting. For those concerned about injuring themselves via squats or dead lifts, I cannot speak to lower back injuries however, I can add that most people i know with such injuries were lifting far more weight than they should have. Subsequently, their form was regularly poor and the continued stress slowly worked away at them. This all is to say that if you cannot properly sit back in a squat, you probably should reconsider regularly squatting 405 (same applies to all heavy exercises).

    Finally, for those with recent injuries, I know the pain and (possibly) depression you are feeling. It took me quite a while and a lot of work (that I really was convinced wasn't doing anything for me) until I started seeing progress. For back injuries, depending on severity, there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. I have returned to most athletic ventures (i.e. basketball, golf, biking) in addition to my lifting. It is important to remember that my injuries were of the neck, and i have very little experience with ongoing sciatica resulting from lower back injuries.
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    20 year back pain sufferer (yes, bulging discs) and new to weight training.

    Anyway, I found this article on T-Nation and it seems to be working. 9 Strategies to Train Around Lower Body Pain.

    http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_...ower_body_pain

    I eventually want to be able to deadlift, but I am taking it slow and careful.
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    My Back Controls Me.

    Deadlifts and other lifting techniques that require you to bend over at the waist and lift heavy weights will always be a risk for you to relapse on your injury no matter how perfect your form. Your form may be great the first few reps, but as fatigue kicks in the chance that your form will remain the same as at start is highly unlikely.
    There are many exercises that us with bad backs can do to build muscle and avoid injury at the same time. Good luck.
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