T Nation

MRI of My Lower Back


Oops, I did it again.

I was trying out some “land mine” squats the other day and they felt awkward.

Anyway a few days later my “famous” lower back (left side) is tender and sore again. For those that don’t know, I have a history of lower back issues that are usually aggravated by back squatting and deadlifting. Usually have 1-2 episodes a year where I am left unable to move off the floor for a week. This time around its not as bad (I can still walk and move around in general), but still extremely frustrating as it means 1-2 weeks away from the gym.

Due to my frustration I presented to my doctor who has given me a referral for a MRI scan of my lumbar spine and hip. I am wondering what information a MRi scan will give me? Im suspecting its either my SI joint and/or general arthritis/degeneration of my spine causing me these issues.

Should I go ahead with the scan. Its expensive and I am wondering if the information I get from it will really be useful?



I got mine scanned after a doctor said it was the only way to see what’s wrong there. Turned out I had herniated my L2/L3 disc. It’s expensive but worth it if you are unsure how to rehab it.


Got one earlier this year after 4 months of stretching every way known to man would not bring relief whether lying, standing, or walking. The infamous L4/L5 disc was bulging into the spinal cord like an omega symbol.

Doc asked if I had same symptoms in the past? Yes, why?
Because the disc below had no protoplasm in it and was flat.

Go! It’s your most impotant skeletal component.


Thanks friends for the advice. Im booked in for this Thursday.

Kind of nervous about what might be revealed, but Im hoping for some info that might help me get back to full strength.

I hope you have all recovered from your injuries.



Got my results today of the MRI of my lumbar spine.

This is the radiologist report:

“There are mild spondylotic changes in the lumbar vertebrae with degydrative changes in all intervertebral discs.
Moderate left posterior disc profusion seen at level L4/L% causing moderate indentation on left traversing nerves.
There is mild posterior disc protrusion at L5/S1 level causing mild indentation on the thecae sac and traversing nerves.
There is mild facet joint athropathy at L4/L5 and L5/S1 level.
Distal spinal cord and the caudal equine are normal. the bony spiny canal is normal in dimensions.
The SI joints on both sides are unremarkable. Para articular marrow shows normal thickness, No joint effusion seen.
Pre and paraspinal soft tissues are normal.”

For those who are in the know: does this sound bad? Could be worse? Rehab ideas?

The GP suggested a PT, who I may visit as I am covered with my health insurance.



That’s funny.

Your SI are unremarkable.

Sorry, made me laugh.

Carry on.


Your PT will give you movements to rehab more correctly than we could. I do suggest keep walking daily, to stay mobile. Get him to show you the picture on computer - it’s cool to see.

You indeed have bulging discs, but skeleton part sounds good other than a little arthritis.


@JFG: made me laugh as well. All this time I was convinced something was wrong with my SI joint.

@treco: I still plan to continue with my current training and BJJ. At the moment I am pain free 80-90% of the time.

Should I stop my current training until I see the PT? Am I doing any more damage to myself? I have kind of assumed that as long as I am not aggravating the injury, that normal training should be good to continue with??



My advice is hold off, because at 56, I regret doing activities that will have diminished my flexibility or mobility for 35+ more years. You are talking body parts that can only be repaired by surgery and your spinal cord.

I did not accrue any benefit from playing street hoops into my 40s or deadlifting 2x bw for reps workouts as recently as a year ago. You’ve been a national level footballer iirc. But now you need to train for life and the long term.

Just my opinon - so good luck whatever you decide.


@treco: Thanks for the advice buddy. I like your advice, and its kind of what Im going with. As long as I don’t aggravate the injury Im surely not doing any more damage. In fact I think that by stopping training it will do more ham than good. I just have to be reasonable with what I do.

2x bw deadlifts and squats are obviously out.



If you have the insurance to cover it, go-ahead. He’s going to tell you to stop lifting though, that’s all but guaranteed.



If my lifting is not making the condition worse why would he make me stop lifting?

The only movements where this a bar on my back would be for box step ups and reverse BB lunging. I suppose the occasional MP may cause some compression as well, although these are light at the moment and infrequent.



Some PT’s even those who work with medical professionals are complete morons when it comes to weight training. I’ve had even numerous doctors tell me that I should never squat to parallel or below because “it’ll hurt your knees since you have chondromalacia” and I was also told to stop lifting entirely by a physiotherapist because I have a herniated disc at the moment. I called bullshit on both and got second opinions from people who actually know their shit and preferably have at least some background in sports.


How’s the back?

Wife gave me a gym membership for Christmas (guess the biking and swimming over the summer didn’t keep the muscles big enough - ha).
I’m not taxing the spinal column, but enjoying the weights again. Hinges, step-ups, ATG unweighted for lots of reps, and ham curls for lower body. Oh well,


@treco: Hey buddy.

Good to see your back on the iron. I would recommend lunges: reverse BB lunges, walking dB lunges, bulgarian split squats. I usually use the hamstring curl machine for the hammies as the back can’t really tolerate anything else at the moment.

My back is doing ok lately. Im in the gym twice a week doing upper body stuff and Im at the BJJ dojo 2-3 times a week.

I have usually dropped my usual leg day and replaced it with some bike hill sprints. I will do this until my back is feeling better. The weights didn’t make things worse, but after a leg session the back pain/discomfort would go from 2/10 to 3/10. So I’m thinking I might be best to keep away from the lower body weights until things heal up a little better.

My new philosophy is to stop anything that makes my lower back feel worse. It may never ever be 100%, but Im quietly confident that I can get it to a situation where it feels good most of the time without it impeding my life.

Im looking into getting an inversion table. Any thoughts about this?



I have had 3 people I know absolutely swear by inversion tables.
The MD at spinal clinic suggested also.


@treco: do you use one yourself?



I have used one on 2 occasions and it hurts like a fool.
Not my back, but ankles/feet and head.

So no as far as personal endorsement for pain.
However, one of the people I mentioned was close to 4x dl and squat in 198 class. He uses his a few minutes daily and says it is a Godsend.

Don’t the Teeter models have variable recline? That would allow you to ease into it.



My massage therapist, who has also is competitive powerlifter and bodybuilder, has had one for 6 months and feels it makes a difference. He uses it in the mornings for 3-4 minutes and recommends starting on the 60-70 degree incline. He says the stretch is unique and potent.

Im looking at buying one, but Im just a little cautious as I can see how it would hurt your feet/ankles, but maybe that is something you can adapt to. They aren’t cheap, so I don’t want to buy one and not use it.