T Nation

Do I Have a Herniated Disc?

Can someone tell me what a herniated disc feels like? I have some lower back discomfort, but its not really painful. But when I play hockey sometimes I start out skating real good with no pain, but if I take a turn wrong or something I start getting a pinched nerve feeling that is painful.

It pretty much makes my left leg useless and I can’t accelerate at all. Mainly the pain is in my left glute. This has been going on for a few months. I’ve been seeing a chiropractor and getting ART done on my hip/glute area hoping that would help.

I haven’t done squats or deadlifts in a while due to fear of further injury. Maybe I should start doing deadlifts again to strengthen the area? What do you guys think?

I think you should seek help from a medical professional…orthopedic, sports medicine physician, ATC, or PT. Any advice given on here is not going to fully help you since there is no physical exam being performed.
-LH

If I might make a suggestion, read Dr John Sarno’s books on back problems. He
is on the staff of NYU’s medical school and the Director of Rehabilitation Therapy there. He thinks most back diagnoses are WRONG (especially herniated disks) and he has some interesting solutions. It worked for me.

[quote]StevenF wrote:
Can someone tell me what a herniated disc feels like? I have some lower back discomfort, but its not really painful. But when I play hockey sometimes I start out skating real good with no pain, but if I take a turn wrong or something I start getting a pinched nerve feeling that is painful.

It pretty much makes my left leg useless and I can’t accelerate at all. Mainly the pain is in my left glute. This has been going on for a few months. I’ve been seeing a chiropractor and getting ART done on my hip/glute area hoping that would help.

I haven’t done squats or deadlifts in a while due to fear of further injury. Maybe I should start doing deadlifts again to strengthen the area? What do you guys think?[/quote]

Look dude, a herniated disc (RL4-L5) is what has shut me down for the last 4 years. Don’t let this shit happen to you. Granted, mine is an extreme case of poor recovery and related bullshit (my neck and whole spine ended up spasming for like three years in sympathy…goodbye 20 plus years of training results), still, you are MUCH better off taking a layoff of offending exercise, working other areas heavier, etc. than having a “blowout” like I did.

While I don’t know if you have back problems, the fact that you are asking for medical advice on an Internet forum tells me you have other problems.

So, can anyone tell me what the symptoms of a herniated disc are?

[quote]StevenF wrote:
So, can anyone tell me what the symptoms of a herniated disc are? [/quote]

Depends exactly where the herniation is occurring. But common symptoms are radiating pain, numbness and tingling, sharp pain, burning pain, pain with hip flexion and/or extension (depending on which way the disc herniated), and muscle weakness in the area. Then there are different kinds of herniated discs depending on the degree of herniation, etc. Plus the fact that majority of those symptoms can also describe SI Joint dysfuntion, sciatica, or even a muscle strain and spasm in the area.

Again, as I suggested before, go seek help from a medical professional if you are that concerned of the issue. You aren’t going to get a definitive answer on a message board.

-LH

[quote]LevelHeaded wrote:
StevenF wrote:
So, can anyone tell me what the symptoms of a herniated disc are?

Depends exactly where the herniation is occurring. But common symptoms are radiating pain, numbness and tingling, sharp pain, burning pain, pain with hip flexion and/or extension (depending on which way the disc herniated), and muscle weakness in the area. Then there are different kinds of herniated discs depending on the degree of herniation, etc. Plus the fact that majority of those symptoms can also describe SI Joint dysfuntion, sciatica, or even a muscle strain and spasm in the area.

Again, as I suggested before, go seek help from a medical professional if you are that concerned of the issue. You aren’t going to get a definitive answer on a message board.

-LH[/quote]

I was just seeing what the symptoms were from people who have experience with it. I have been to a doctor and he took an X-ray and just prescribed me some Motrin and a muscle relaxer.

It’s also possible to have a herniated disc and not know about it, if it’s not pushing against any nerves.

I did some searching around about it (on google), and found a lot of good info.

Most steps in treating it (if you had it) are mainly to keep the pain away while your body heals it’s self.

Just don’t do anything that causes pain, but keep active as much as you can, again, without it causing pain. It’s supposed to heal better if you stay active than if you were to just have bed rest.

At least that’s the conclusions I’ve come to with my internet research. Nothing beats having an actual doctor visit though, back pain can mean a whole lotta different things.

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

[quote]bushidobadboy wrote:
StevenF wrote:
I have been to a doctor and he took an X-ray and just prescribed me some Motrin and a muscle relaxer.

Really? You mean the ‘doctor’ used an imaging modality that cannot reveal disc herniations, and then prescribed you some painkillers?!?!?!

Surely not!

You doctor is an imbecile when it comes to back pain. He might be good at other stuff, but all he has shown here is that he has not the first clue about musculoskeletal problems relating to the spine.

Only an MRI will reveal soft tissue lesions, and painkillers might be of some use in the acute stage of an injury, to facilitate rehabilitation exercises, but they will NOT have any healing benefit whatsoever by themselves.

Basically, what your ‘doctor’ has done is given you a band-aid, and an unneccesary dose of ionising radiation.

Do you feel happy with that?

bushy[/quote]

No, that is kind of why I started the thread. I wanted to see if I had the classic symptoms of a herniated disc before I decided to go through the process of getting an MRI done.

I’m not sure how to go about getting an MRI, but I asked a guy I work with who has a herniated disc and had an MRI done and he said he had to get his doctor to have one done on him. Does this make sense?

After that last doctor visit I really do not want to go to that guy again. Would I have to go through a General Practioner to get the MRI done or what? I have no clue what to do in this situation. Any advice would be appreciated.

Go to an orthopedic surgeon / doctor. They know symptoms of herniation, rupture and more likely, muscle / tendon aggravation of nerve bundles. When a nerve gets aggravated, it swells, causing further aggravation…

After talking to an otho, he will most likely schedule you up for an MRI.

Bushy, an anti-inflammatory isn’t a bad prescription. At times ineffectual, yes. If they’re concurrent with muscle relaxants and steroids… now that is a cocktail for healing.

Again…
I think you should seek help from a medical professional…orthopedic, sports medicine physician, ATC, or PT.

Best bet would be to find a good physician with a low back specialist or a MD with speciality in sports medicine (since I am assuming this was caused during lifting or some kind of athletic activity).

Likely, from the symptoms that you did describe, I would lean more towards an SI Joint dysfunction (SIJD) rather than a herniated disc. But at the same time, you really didn’t tell much of what you were feeling.

Did the doctor request a follow up after the x-ray and pain killers were given? Did he give you a rehab plan or just give you the drugs and send you on your way? Did he give you his diagnosis? Anything?!?

The X-Ray isn’t completely useless, but isn’t the best option. Some doctors give an x-ray to see how the spacing is between the vertebrae and if there is an abnormal tilt or abnormal spacing between them, the doctor may suggest an MRI to see if there is any degeneration or a possible herniation. MRI’s are much more expensive than x-rays, so he may have been trying to save you some money.

If the doctor wasn’t jumping to give an MRI (and he is a good doctor), than he may have just felt it was just a SIJD or muscularly related. But he should have given some kind of rehab or at least a referal to a physical therapist.

But going back to my first point, go seek another doctor with speciality in this matter if you feel that one you previously saw wasn’t good enough. We on this board can only assume and guess at what the real problem is since we can’t see or evaluate you.

-LH

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Here’s a quick test to do at home:

Place the affected leg on top of something so its about 90? hip flexion. Note how this feels. Now flex your neck (put your chin on your chest) and see if it causes any extra pain/discomfort below the affected area.

This places a stretch on the nerves and will most likely reveal a herniation. If it comes out positive see an orthopedic surgeon and a physical therapist. If its negative then just the physical therapist will do.

[quote]StevenF wrote:
Can someone tell me what a herniated disc feels like? I have some lower back discomfort, but its not really painful. But when I play hockey sometimes I start out skating real good with no pain, but if I take a turn wrong or something I start getting a pinched nerve feeling that is painful.

It pretty much makes my left leg useless and I can’t accelerate at all. Mainly the pain is in my left glute. This has been going on for a few months. I’ve been seeing a chiropractor and getting ART done on my hip/glute area hoping that would help.

I haven’t done squats or deadlifts in a while due to fear of further injury. Maybe I should start doing deadlifts again to strengthen the area? What do you guys think?[/quote]

I ruptured a disc back in 97 and i heard a pop, in a months time i couldn’t walk and was in excruciating pain.

An x ray will only tell you if you have a compression facture.You need a cat scan. But, is this pain stopping you from peeing or interfering with your lifestyle? as long as the disc isn’t hitting a nerve you’re ok… the anti inflammatory meds are just to deal with the pain but if there is inflammation they can help with that so.

Whatever you do don’t do deadlifts that would be considered dumb. You can do stretching as long as your not in a great deal of pain.I am not suggesting you should do anything that causes pain.

Be patient and let things settle down.

Ok thanks a lot guys for the replies I appreciate it very much. The way I was brought up is you don’t go to the doctor unless you’re bleeding profusely or something is broken.

My dad doesn’t think its a disc herniation either and doesn’t think I should go see a doc. But he’s also the one that wouldn’t take me to go get stitches when I busted my eyebrow open playing hockey when I was 10. HA. I’ll make an appointment tomorrow to see a different doc that works with back problems.

Sciatica…

Pain from the nerve running down the glute and back of the leg. Sometimes all the way to the toes.

To me it does look like a bulged or herniation if the pain comes down the glute.

LAY OFF for a while.

Got my sciatica from running a 400 meter relay at a track meet to fill in for someone when in fact I trained for years to do the 3200 meters.

For two years everyday morning I was flat on my stomach and lifting legs up 6 or so inches or lifting both upper body and legs simultaneously. I became stronger, which was great but the pain persisted.

Then got to the thinking that I needed to start going to the gym further strengthening my body and my back a little more. After only two weeks of all kinds of motions from squatting to deadlifting motions (very few reps and sets) and others with just with my own body weight for warm ups and just the bar with no weights or little weights, the debilitating pain that depressed me for two wholesome years was completely GONE.

I never did ab cruches or anything like that because it aggravated it further. This experience got me interested and motivated to lift regularly.

You can pm me for more details, but don’t do any exercises until you go to an MD and do what the MD tells you to for a while.