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Ruined My Low Back

 A little over a year ago I destroyed my low back sumo deadlifting. It was my last set with 415 on the bar, got it about 2 inches off the ground and heard an audible pop at the base of my spine. It was the worse pain I have ever experienced. I was out for the count with severe back pain and instant sciatica through my hip/buttocks region all the way down my left leg to the foot. 

Anyway I got an x-ray 3 months later and I have a spondylolysis at L5-S1, I know thats where the disc popped also. Just got an MRI last week so I am still waiting for the report. Just from looking at the MRI scan I can see the L5-S1 disc is much darker than the rest (google says that means degenerated/dehydrated). The pain I am dealing with is just a constant deep ache when standing/working for longer than 15 min. Sitting is annoying too but much more tolerable.

I still workout regularly I just don’t dead/squat anymore. I am thinking about easing back into them or variations. I just deadlifted 225 for 5x5 regular stance yesterday and felt a lot of pressure on the disc in that area, did not feel good.

 Six months after the injury I started doing Stuart Mcgill's big 3 and noticed a decrease in pain and slight increase in work capacity. I seen a physical therapist last month for the 1st time and it was a joke. How can you help someone with back pain if you do not assess the way they move, sit, stand look at posture/muscle imbalances. Just bought a reverse hyper to help strengthen my posterior chain even more. 

Has anyone else had these symptoms and found relief or am I a lifer now? I know there are a bunch of people that have come back from these injures stronger (Louie Simmons, Brian Carroll just to name a few). It hurts my back even thinking about having 405 in my hands again. I feel like driving to Mike Robertsons place for help. I just want to be where I was before this injury, I am 24 and used to work 50-60 hour weeks regularly with my job (install flooring) now i struggle with just a regular 40 hour week. I know there are people that are way worse than me in regards to my injury so any info/responses are greatly appreciated.

Go see a different physio. One with selective functional movement assessment or something similar, if thats your fancy. Maybe see a reputable athletic trainer/therapist, they are more used to injuries like yours.

If you only have a spondy, extension is not your friend. The therapeutic exercise regimen is very, very different than a discopathy, and not one I recall off the top of my head. If you have a spondy and a disc it will be a lot of planks and straight core work. Either way, good luck.

I know every physical therapist that I want to see does not except my insurance. It’s weird though b/c if I put my back into extension I have no pain so I don’nt know if its the spondy or the herniated disc that is causing the pain. The only time i have pain in extension is if I lay on my stomach and arch my back hard, or let my hips sink. One thing I forgot to mention is I have had tight hamstrings since elementary school. No matter how much I stretch them they never loosen up, but I read chronically tight hamstrings is a symptom of spondy patients.

If you get desperate, back tweaks (or lower back tweaks), by Kelly are a reasonable stop gap (search YouTube) .

Got my MRI report in today. The L1-2, L2-3, L3-4 and L4-5 disc levels are all normal. I’m really happy about that since I thought there may have been damage at other levels. L5-S1 shows degenerative disc disease with disc bulge and posterior annular tear. There is spondylolysis of L5 with minimal spondylolisthesis at L5-S1 causing mild foraminal narrowing. Thanks for the input guys I will have to try those stretches out and see if they help anything. Rogue reverse hyper is coming in on wednesday so I’m really pumped about that. I know that Mcgill does not recommend them b/c of the shear stress but I really do not have any pain performing them so I figured why not. I have a ghetto version with 2-2x12 that I laid across my power-rack and have been using.

Could be worse…that bottom disc is the one that popped its darker with less water content.

Scotty dog

There is another MRI protocol that can help determine if the spondylo is the pain-producer or not. It’s called a STIR series, where the fat signal is filtered out more and water content is more evident. It is very useful in detecting edema. If the area around the pars (scotty dog) is “lit up” with edema, the spondylo is the likely culprit. If there is no edema, that’s not your pain producer.

Thank you for your response. I went to see an orthopedic specialist today. I should have asked about the STIR series MRI but forgot. She really didn’t make any sense and I don’t think she understood the mechanism of the injury. When I said I injured it deadlifting she lifted her arms up in a power-clean motion to imitate what she thought was a deadllift and say’s, “Yea to get the weight up you go into hyper-extension” lol.

I’m not an expert but from what I have been reading a disc is usually blown out from flexion. She said I could have tried to get the stress fracture to heal by going into a back brace a year ago. Also that it probably will not heal now since it is already a year old. I wanted to get an epidural injection but she stated it is mainly for leg pain and cortisone is not really going to help. This specialist also does not think it is disc pain because I quote, “Disc pain usually goes down the legs.” So your telling me that a desiccated disc with a large annular tear cannot cause chronic LBP? I didn’t say that to her but then I asked, so you think it’s the fracture?

To which she replied, “no everything is settled down and it is just low back pain.” Did not seem too concerned about finding the pain source and gave me a script for PT. Going to take dzmendon’s advice and look for a sports PT.

My experience with most run of the mill ‘clinical advisers’, is they love to assume you’re completely negligent and utterly brain dead. They also don’t care about your well-being and just want a cause and a cure ASAP. Seems to be the case with your recent visit, and I’m sorry for that. It’s not easy finding a really good physio, but they’re out there. Hope you tie these loose ends up man, and get back on the horse.

I would say you hit the nail on the head with that statement. Thanks for the words of encouragement, hopefully I will be able to find a good physio this time around. I will say that I have been experimenting with Kelly Starrett’s hamstring flossing w/ band distraction and I feel like that has helped with the low back discomfort I am experiencing while deadlifting. I can pretty much get to 90 degrees with a lying straight leg raise after warming up with them.

Dr_J2. I’ve never heard of this will try to look up that info. Might help me decide what is my problem

Just wondered how it’s going Cmoney2801, I’m in a similar boat right now, took me a minute to find a good orthopedic, one thinks it’s hip impingment because I’m having some groin pain, but before I had fai surgery I was looking at my syptoms and it’s seemed more like a back fracture. I went to a previous ortho surgeon that was a dbag, but he did right a script for a MRI I paid for out of pocket he told me some B’s about arthritis and needing surgery before he even gave me PT so I left and then I went to my sports medicine guy that thinks it’s my hip(cam hip impingment) had PT for a while had a injection that might of help but response was delayed, got a mri of my right hip to verify that it’s impinged but so it my other no symptoms. So before I decide on surgery went to a neuro surgeon from my hospital be gave me the same thing about pain should be going down into my legs if it’s my back, so he said it had to be my hip. I know he didn’t even look at my MRI so I took that with a grain of salt, (the whole time I’m thinking I broke my back, sure felt like it), so I went to another ortho surgeon and he actually listen sat down and looked at my MRI with me next to him spent at least 30 to 40 minutes with me. He saw a few things tested me for ankolosy spondylosis which I didn’t have the markers, he saw what he thought could be a pars fracture in one picture so had me get lateral xrays, that varified my pars fracture, I believe mine is complete. Been getting injections to see if the fracture is the problem so far injections haven’t helped. He colabarated with another doctor right in front of me to get the spots they though for sure would help if my fracture is the problem. If his doesn’t help will try a injection in my hip again he thinks maybe I didn’t get that one done right. This has been 14 months so I definitely feel ya. Have to fight until you get someone who gives a damn. But anyway on of the major symptoms of a pars fracture is back pain that doesn’t radiate or cause neuro deficits, it’s sad that your doctor didn’t know that when a Google search to the first page will give you those answers.

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I’m finishing school to be a physical therapist assistant in December. It’s discouraging to hear how hard it is to get proper care, especially in the therapy world where we spend so much time with patients.

In my opinion, if measurable progress isn’t made within a couple weeks then a reassessment and change in plan of care should be considered.

Keep being an advocate for your health!

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wow i just showed this thread to someone and didn’t realize there was more replies than what i had originally seen a few years ago. i’m gonna respond even tho i’m 2 years late lol.

after that deadlifting injury my back has never felt the same. i’ve had chronic pain for the last 6 years Since that day. the spring of 2015 after I made that thread I found a doctor who was in sports medicine and did prolotherapy. He looked at my MRI and said “I think I can help you, your gonna be alright.” He set me up with a sports physio pro-Bono since my shitty insurance didn’t have anyone he liked. After 8 weeks of physical therapy and Minimal improvement he gave me the prolotherapy and literally the next day I felt something different. I could finally stand on my feet and not feel an ache after 2 minutes…this was the 1st time in 2 years I could do that. I could also tolerate sitting longer without having to shift about and squirm every 10 minutes.

I kept perusing the regenerative medicine route and went for another 2 rounds but my pain didn’t improve much. I think the initial injections helped stiffen up some of the lax ligaments around the injury which improved my pain. There was definitely major instability even with all the core-work and McGill exercises I could feel how tender the injury was when the physical therapist palpated around L5-S1.

I still have the same dull ache and can’t push myself too hard with anything. My back is extremely stiff in the mornings and it’s a bitch getting moving. I can’t wait to see what it’s gonna be like when I’m 60. I pretty much only have a certain amount of bends in the bank and cant really stay in flexion too long. Anything more than a few seconds here and there will leave me in pretty bad pain. I do a lot of cardio now on the Elliptical and keep up with my rehab exercises and that keeps me feeling pretty good.

I still do physical labor for my dads flooring company as a installer and can work at decent level but usually only work 3-4 days a week. One good thing that came from this injury was that it actually motivated me to go to college and get a degree so I can get off my hands and knees and break free from the business.

I should have gotten some coaching in lifting before jumping into heavy weights. I wasn’t aware that these types of injuries happened. I was only 22 at the time and thought I was bulletproof. I didn’t realize how bad one rep can fuck you up but it was most likely the straw on the camels back from years of bad form.

I’m also amazed that out of the 3 physical therapist I found (1 with sports emphasis), no one looked at the way I move. My gait, the way I grab something from the floor, getting up from a chair, I read about all that stuff from McGills books and through this site so I’m very grateful for that.


It seems like you have similar symptoms and I would like to know how you are doin…hope you found relief :+1:t3:.