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  1. #1
    Registered User Logical95's Avatar
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    Lower Back Pull/Strain Vs Herniated Disc.....how to tell the Difference???

    Hey guys,

    Need some help here and opinions....

    So I injured my lower back/lumbar/sacral area about 4 weeks ago doing my last heavy set of deadlifts. On the last rep of the last set going down I felt it pull doing my 5x5 program so by the last set I was already pretty gassed....

    The first 2-3 days or so it was painful and it felt like my back was "locking up" or I was having muscle spasms if I sat a certain way on the couch or in my car....in some cases I couldn't drive bc of the way I sat in my car it would spasm.

    However, its been a month and its much better however I still feel it.....I haven't been able to do deadlifts in a month and I'm laying off lower back stuff.....although I admit I still do light squats....

    I am afraid it might be a herniated disc or something worse, rather than a pull or strained muscle or ligament.....bc wouldn't a pulled muscle/ligament have healed in 4 weeks already? BUT from the initial symptoms of locking up and spasms when I first did it, I'm thinking its muscle related....maybe a bad erector spinae strain?

    What do you guys think? Is there any way to tell bt a pull/strain or a herniated disc?? Besides an X-Ray or MRI?

    I've never had an injury this long and I'm getting frustrated that I still feel some mild dull pain there.....

    Thanks for your help.....!
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  2. #2
    Registered User HALON's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Logical95 View Post
    Hey guys,

    Need some help here and opinions....

    So I injured my lower back/lumbar/sacral area about 4 weeks ago doing my last heavy set of deadlifts. On the last rep of the last set going down I felt it pull doing my 5x5 program so by the last set I was already pretty gassed....

    The first 2-3 days or so it was painful and it felt like my back was "locking up" or I was having muscle spasms if I sat a certain way on the couch or in my car....in some cases I couldn't drive bc of the way I sat in my car it would spasm.

    However, its been a month and its much better however I still feel it.....I haven't been able to do deadlifts in a month and I'm laying off lower back stuff.....although I admit I still do light squats....

    I am afraid it might be a herniated disc or something worse, rather than a pull or strained muscle or ligament.....bc wouldn't a pulled muscle/ligament have healed in 4 weeks already? BUT from the initial symptoms of locking up and spasms when I first did it, I'm thinking its muscle related....maybe a bad erector spinae strain?

    What do you guys think? Is there any way to tell bt a pull/strain or a herniated disc?? Besides an X-Ray or MRI?

    I've never had an injury this long and I'm getting frustrated that I still feel some mild dull pain there.....

    Thanks for your help.....!

    How fast a muscle or ligament injury heals depends on your healing abilitities and how was the injury treated when it occured. If you RICE an injury you can sometimes cut healing time in half. I know a guy at work he tore his calf muscle it took him 6 weeks to be able to walk without pain and for the injury to heal but he did not treat the inury or apply ice when it occured.

    Did you remember to RICE?

    The symptoms of a heriated disc vary. A slight herniation where the actual disc does not actually impinge on any nerves will cause little or no symptoms. If the disc impinges on nerves your symptoms can include pain, electric tingling sensations( similar to when you hit the funny bone in your elbow) you can feel these in your glutes and hamstrings or legs. Also numbness in your glutes and hamstrings.

    It only been 4 weeks. Give it more time. It looks like its getting better as you say that you only feel a mild dull pain now.

    Do you still feel pain in your back when you touch or palpate the area? or swelling.
    If not its good time to start some heat pack therapy. Place a heat pack on the area a few times a day. The heat pack increases blood flow and can help increase healing time.

    Just to be on the safe side I would go to a sports doc as they can do some tests to see if you have an actual herniated disc.
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    Each year there are 470 000 adverse events, 18 000 deaths, and 50 000 permanent disabilities arising from medical error and negligence each year. This is four times higher compared to the USA." (Second oppinion, GERMOV quote, page 293)

    353 fatal car crashes were recorded on Australian roads in 2008 (RTA, 2008). You are 50 TIMES more likely to die from medical negligence from a DOCTOR compared to being fatally injured in a car crash and they say driving is dangerous.
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  3. #3
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    if you get any pain in your butt/legs following this...that's a bad sign and possible indicator you have a herniated disc irritating a nerve root.

    one thing Dr's will do when looking at a possible herniated disc is to do the 'straight leg test'. sit on the edge of your chair and slowly raise one leg. if you get back pain/leg pain doing this...go see a Dr, i'd say.

    a back sprain/strain could take 6 weeks or longer, though...but now is a GREAT time to stop whatever you were doing so you can heal it up without making your injury worse.
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  4. #4
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    Thumbs up Give it more time

    Sorry to learn about your injury.

    Been there done that.
    The first back episode for me was a ruptured L5 disk and a broken L5 vertebrae. It took a full year to recover.

    My current back episode is still going and it started on Jan 1st. Took 6 weeks for the back pain to go away but it left me with numbness and weakness in right leg. Specialist says that it is the L4 disk pinching on one of the nerves and that it will pass with time. So far, so good.

    Without an MRI you really wont be able to tell which disk is involved, however doing back exercises will strengthen your back and speed up the healing process. In addition to doing the back exercises I swim a lot and that really helps I began to feel better 3 days after I started swimming. There is a lot of good information on the web about back exercises that you can do that will give you increased flexibility and strength.

    Hope that you have a good recovery!
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  5. #5
    Registered User Logical95's Avatar
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    hm

    Thanks for your help and opinions guys.....when it first happened I did rest it however I will admit I did not ice it....I mostly used heat (heat packs, hot showers, etc) to get blood flow to the area....

    I really have no pain in my butt/legs.....and when I tried that "straight leg test" on a chair didn't hurt that much, just the mild dull pain in the area that I felt, but no sharp pains and no "tingling" pains like pins and needles at all....

    Due to the fact it was locking up and spasm-ing when I first injured it, I thought it was more of a muscle/ligament tear/pull.....

    Just takin a while to heal.....its frustrating...

    To strengthen the muscles down there, I have been doing light back hyperextensions, (plus cable rows, lat pulldown, and dumbell rows) but I am laying off the deadlifts and good mornings for now in my back routine....
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    I just recently got over a subluxed rib in my lower back. I had many of the same symptoms as you while sitting and the worst was driving. I couldn't bend forward at all or even bend my neck forward without horrible pain. After almost a month I started seeing a chiropractor and the rib is back in its place.
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    I'd so go to the doctors to get it checked out. I would guess it's muscular. You need to lie down for the straight leg test. It's much more accurate that way. Have someone lift one leg up to between like 60 and 90 degrees. if you get pain in your other leg you have a herniated disc, same leg there's a chance you do as well. they will repeat with the other leg, and it's the same way. this will check if you have a herniated disc in L4, L5, or your sacrum. What i would recommend doing is the RICE method that HALON was talking about. Stay away from squats and deads for a little while.
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  8. #8
    Registered User Logical95's Avatar
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    ya

    Yea the weirdest thing was that when I first did it and I was getting the spasms, it literally was like their was a charlie horse in my lower back if i moved a certain way of if I sat a certain way....which makes me think its more muscular rather than bony or disc related.....

    I will try the straight leg test sitting down, since you said thats more accurate.

    I've just never heard of a muscle pull/strain taking more than 4 weeks to heal, which is why I thought it was more serious.....

    Maybe I will get an X-ray just to be safe....can an X-ray detect a herniated disc, or do I need MRI for that?
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    Originally Posted by Logical95 View Post
    Yea the weirdest thing was that when I first did it and I was getting the spasms, it literally was like their was a charlie horse in my lower back if i moved a certain way of if I sat a certain way....which makes me think its more muscular rather than bony or disc related.....

    I will try the straight leg test sitting down, since you said thats more accurate.

    I've just never heard of a muscle pull/strain taking more than 4 weeks to heal, which is why I thought it was more serious.....

    Maybe I will get an X-ray just to be safe....can an X-ray detect a herniated disc, or do I need MRI for that?
    you will need an MRI to see a minor herniation (which the vast majority are considered "minor"). The X-ray will only be able to detect whether or not there is a severe case of disc degeneration by proxy of the vertebra being tilted or the space between them being very thin. an x-ray will not show the disc itself since the disc is cartilage, not bone. How do you feel when driving? a Herniated disc will feel very uncomfortable when hitting bumps driving in your car. also, what is more comfortable for you? standing and walking, sitting, lying down?
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    Originally Posted by Logical95 View Post
    Hey guys,

    Need some help here and opinions....

    So I injured my lower back/lumbar/sacral area about 4 weeks ago doing my last heavy set of deadlifts. On the last rep of the last set going down I felt it pull doing my 5x5 program so by the last set I was already pretty gassed....

    The first 2-3 days or so it was painful and it felt like my back was "locking up" or I was having muscle spasms if I sat a certain way on the couch or in my car....in some cases I couldn't drive bc of the way I sat in my car it would spasm.

    However, its been a month and its much better however I still feel it.....I haven't been able to do deadlifts in a month and I'm laying off lower back stuff.....although I admit I still do light squats....

    I am afraid it might be a herniated disc or something worse, rather than a pull or strained muscle or ligament.....bc wouldn't a pulled muscle/ligament have healed in 4 weeks already? BUT from the initial symptoms of locking up and spasms when I first did it, I'm thinking its muscle related....maybe a bad erector spinae strain?

    What do you guys think? Is there any way to tell bt a pull/strain or a herniated disc?? Besides an X-Ray or MRI?

    I've never had an injury this long and I'm getting frustrated that I still feel some mild dull pain there.....

    Thanks for your help.....!
    From what you have described, you have a minor disc injury. Unlikely to be a herniation.

    6 weeks is a normal recovery time for this injury.

    Further investigation is not required.

    http://www.communigate.co.uk/ne/eppsg/page8.phtml may assist
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