T Nation

Herniated Disc L2-L3

How’s it going everybody? I don’t post very often, but regularly researching and learning from the forum. I’ve made it to a point my back pain was in check and I could lift regularly. Then in typical fashion, I randomly sneeze and pull a muscle in my rib area. I reached out to a sports therapy doc and a MRI was scheduled. He called after reviewing the results and said he couldn’t help me. He referred a neurologist, who recommended injections. I have Sciatica running down my hip, quad, and into my knee. Pain management said shaving the hernia down would result in scar tissue and injections were the way to go. Along with a healthy supply of Narcotics and muscle relaxers. A recommendation of less strenuous activity and swearing off the iron. I was told my life would be different from this point forward. I have 3 friends, 2 are lifters, who spent years with injections and pain. The other took too long to get the surgery, which resulted in muscle atrophy in his pec and bi on the left side. He lost 30% of his muscle mass. After the surgery, all 3 felt about 85% better. For the first 3 weeks my pain was around an 8. I couldn’t so much as watch a movie. It was straight agony. My pain is down to a 3-4. I hate the though of giving up squats, deadlifts, and other king lifts but the thought of giving up all lifting sounded like a death sentence.

I understand this isn’t a medical forum. I’m just looking for advice from members who made it through the injury and back to the gym.

Thanks,

For the first 3 weeks my pain was around an 8. I couldn’t so much as watch a movie. It was straight agony. My pain is down to a 3-4. I hate the though of giving up squats, deadlifts, and other king lifts but the thought of giving up all lifting sounded like a death sentence. I know everyone is different, but what have members here done?

Hang in there man!

Long story short: your life will be different while you’re recovering. Then you will feel better and you’ll be lifting with training wheels for awhile. Eventually you’ll be back to squats and deads. Some time in the future, you’ll be back on track and stronger than you were before the injury.

These things hurt A LOT at first. Then, like you’re experiencing, gradually it hurts less. When it hurts less your back and hip muscles can finally start to unclench, uncramp and relax a little, so there is less pain.

You just need to remember that the bulge from your disc will still be pressing on your nerves, and if you start going too hard you can irritate/inflame things and be in a lot of pain again until things calm down.

The bulge/pressure on your nerve can make it hard to use and control muscles in your leg and hip, like you’ll be uncoordinated and clumsy for awhile. Try to avoid squatting and deadlifting and other big, compound moves for awhile, you don’t want to develop weird compensation patterns or shitty technique by lifting on a Jake-Leg.

At some point, when you’re feeling better you can start trying to rebuild strength and stability in your mid-section/core/abs. If you’re into researching, check out the work f Dr. Stuart McGill. He’s a research guy who specializes in this sort of thing. Here’s a video of the “McGill Big 3,” a few basic moves to work on core stability and training yourself to support yourself with your abs and not your back.

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I appreciate the advice! I’ll do some reading on McGill.

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Sure man, any time!

In the short term, don’t forget about using ice or icepacks for pain, and regular ibuprofen for inflammation, as ways to avoid pain killers and muscle relaxers.

When you feel ready to get down on the floor you might try some 90/90 breathing. Basically laying on the floor, with a neutral spine and your feet up on the wall to re-establish breathing and bracing. Now that I think about it, it may be good to do this before the McGill 3. Like starting easier and moving to more challenging.