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Composed and Compressed
Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/3/2009 8:11AM Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Had an EMG test and confirmed the nerve root is being pushed on. Underwent an MRI yesterday to confirm what type of disc bulge might be going on. Anybody experience this and recover from it? The symptoms are no power in the foot during push off and no reflex underneath the arch of the foot--the nerves are responsive in the toes and calf area, and the muscle mass in the calf and soleus are enough to generate, with great effort, a tippy-toe; however, all signs and the EMG indicate the nerve root is the issue.

I've read nerves can regenerate. I am very very wary of any back surgery (including microdiscetomy). Would chiropractic treatments work. Any encouragement would be welcome.
serunner11
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/3/2009 8:48AM - in reply to Composed and Compressed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I have had some success with inversion therapy and consistant chiropractic adjustment. These coupled with core strength has helped my L5-S1 problems. My disc is beat to hell and I don't have the problems as bad as you describe, but with time these have improved my situation and perhaps they will do the same for you.
Hang in there
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/3/2009 8:52AM - in reply to Composed and Compressed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Dude I don't have back problems but I wish you the best and a speedy recovery. There is nothing worse than having back pain! Hang in there.
Near Doc
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/3/2009 9:11AM - in reply to Composed and Compressed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Hey there. From what I'm understanding by your message you have a disc herniation at L5/S1. You won't know this for sure until you get your MRI results, but your symptoms are consistent with this as well, if you had shooting pains down your leg, I'd be even more convinced.
CAVEAT: assuming you have a herniation:
1. You don't have nerve loss, it didn't disappear, it is just being compressed by the disc and therefore can't transmit signals properly. Once the pressure is relieved, you should regain function, though may have transient weakness due to some muscle atrophy which will come back when you begin running again.
2. Most people recover with no therapy in about 4-6 weeks, the disc is irritated, inflamed and swollen, just as if you hit your finger with a hammer, it swells. Only difference is the disc pinches a very sensitive structure.
3. Many patients receive relief from epidural steroid injections b/c this reduces the inflammation, potentially enough such that the impingement on the nerve is relieved. This allows you to resume activity or at least reduce any pain and possibly weakness until the inflammation resolves on its own. Approximately 50% of patients get relief.
4. Surgery tends to be a last resort, and is generally regarded as equal to steroid injections at 2 years out from treatment. Plus, it is essentially neurosurgery and there are plenty of risks associated with this as well as a recovery process.

The biggest issue is what caused the herniation, and if it is due to running, it may occur again. if due to an unrelated injury it may never happen again as long as you are careful with recovery. Overall, about 5% of patients will experience a 2nd herniation. If from running, PT or chiropractic care may benefit b/c they may be able to help you adjust posture and running form to avoid continued irritation of that disk.

GOOD LUCK!
recent lumbar problem
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/3/2009 11:34AM - in reply to Near Doc Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
i'm not a doc and haven't had MRI. But I screwed up my lumbar area in late March 2009. Possibly resuming lifting, situps, and hanging crunches too quickly and feeling some vertebral crackling when doing these exercises.

So over the course of a couple days I begin to have sharp pains all throughout my sacral region, especially when slouching. Also the dead-givaway to the disc problem was constant shooting nerve pains from my butt down the posterior-lateral side of both legs. Also had some nerve-related pain and a dull or numbing sensation in the top-lateral of the left foot and antero-lateral left shin.

For about 3 weeks I couldn't sit for more than 10-15 minutes in my office chair without serious pain.

After reading online a lot of different medical websites, I decided to give postural control and PT on my own a try.

1) switched to a stiff-back chair, put a pillow under the back corner so when I sat on it my pelvis tilted forward created an inward arch in the lumbar region. This gave immediate relief from the nerve sensation.

2) Stood up at work for a couple weeks. Stacked my computer atop other boxes to work standing up during the worst times.

3) When driving, tried a small lumbar pillow. Also focused on pushing my butt back into the corner of the seat and pushing my solar plexus forwards to maintain that inward arch of the lumbar region.

4) During the worst periods I did lots of exercises at home, like laying face down on floor, lifting up my shoulders and torso with my hands and keeping my pelvis on the floor. Also laid face down with pelvis on floor and lifted up my legs and torso sort of a superman flying position. Planks. Gluteal bridges while making sure my back is slightly arched. Laying on back, leg lifts only about 8 inches off the ground but also arching back.

All these postural changes constantly engaged my hip flexors and forced the disc to natural go back into position over a few weeks time. I also had to lay on my stomach to keep my back in the semi-arched position.

Never gave up running, but I know what you mean about feeling like your feet are a bit numb and cannot push off. I wasn't affected very much in this area so I could still run.

Symptoms gradually receded starting about 3 weeks after I began doing all the above. By around 6 weeks the symptoms were almost gone. However, I decided to make sure I kept a straight posture, avoiding slouching, since I didn't want to do anything to make the problem return.

A few weeks later I pulled my hip flexor seriously possibly caused by overuse with excessive postural tension in this manner, but by then my back was much better. I am currently biking for a while until the hip flexor heals.
ocx
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/3/2009 2:20PM - in reply to recent lumbar problem Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Between January 2nd and April, I had 3 MRI's and 4 epidural injections.
I've told the story a zilion times, so I won't bore you...much.
I had the L5.bulging discs.
I also had SEVERE drop foot to where I was just dragging the foot.
I had 106 days of level 10 pain.
After the third and fourth injection given to me by a pain management specialist, I began to improve.
I ran my first 2 miles this morning.
What helped me most is riding a bike along with a group of freshmen who are out for summer cc training.
I had slowly gotten better and did my CORE things and I always find something that improves the dead leg more and more.
Riding a bike while these young guys run..is another thing that helped..
It has been since January 2nd when my left leg went completely dead..
And I am still struggling with the nerve damage.
The bike and CORE is VERY slowly making me stronger...
Like I said I ran 2 miles this morning and my legs ran in sinc, I didn't notice any GREAT weakness in it and only experienced level 1 or 2 pain while doing the CORE.

Hang in there.
recent lumbar problem
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/3/2009 4:08PM - in reply to ocx Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
That's good that the bike helped you, and it didn't aggravate your problems.

As I said above, I ran throughout my first lumbar problem because it was only mild pain and it didn't affect ambulation.

But now I have a strained hip flexor and have to do an alternative exercise. I was a little worried that the hunched-over posture during cycling might make the arch of my back re-aggravate the lumbar area. A trial ride the other day did not cause any problems, but just to be safe I'll try to keep a straighter back while riding if at all possible. At least the riding makes my hip flexor feel much better the day afterwards, moreso than resting would.
Composed and Compressed
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/3/2009 5:13PM - in reply to Near Doc Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Hi guys, thanks for the input. Near Doc, thanks for yours too.

I've written about a bit about this before. I was assaulted last September and twisted violently which is what started all this. The first 3 weeks were excruciatingly painful and something like sciatica. I couldn't sit down, lie down, or anything else without pain, and then it went away. My calf felt like it had been bludgeoned, but that went away too. I saw a orthopedic specialist who did an MRI and sure enough there was a bulge showing compression on the nerve root. He said it should clear itself in maybe 6 months, in 95% of the all cases. I worked on the elliptical for maybe 5 months and things felt pretty good.

Then in February, while feeling good and exercising proper lifting posture, I tweaked the same area at work and a workmen's comp case was opened, a another MRI was ordered--we just now got around to this MRI and should have the results tomorrow where I expect they will see the same bulge which is hopefully not worse. The EMG report definitely showed poor reflexes due to the nerve root issue and some possibility of tarsal tunnel syndrome.

So here we are now: I am able to run maybe 1.5-2 miles and using the strength in my quads and hamstrings am able to maintain a steady cadence and regular and even footfall, even though I can't feel most of my foot push-off. I run on my toes, so when I land on the ball, the calfs automatically kick in to support the leg without and sense of a power transfer from the ball through the foot and up the heel to the calf, or in other words, I'm running with a leg that feels mostly dead in the foot, but it's not a foot drop. I'm usually sore as hell for a couple days even from these short effort.

Because this is workmen's comp I'm sure a conservative treatment will be elected which is fine with me. I'm not in pain at all. I'm just not able to run which has a definite impact on my weight, not to mention fitness. So my biggest hope, that 1/ 100% recovery is possible; and 2/ that a conservative treatment will get me there. I hope those epidurals will work, and it's encouraging to hear that the nerve is still there and not destroyed. If you can think of anything I should ask the specialist look into, then please let me know and I'll get back to all of you. I will also be very interested to hear of any elites that have recovered completely from something like this--this isn't a career ender is it?
mr degenerative
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/3/2009 6:32PM - in reply to Composed and Compressed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
hey, i'm kinda in the semi-elite zone, currently have a similiar problem and have had it for about 12/18 months. I have had an MRI and it showed degenerative damage at L4-L5 and L5-S1. I have a bulged disk and it just gets me down! I'm just wishing i had a healthy, injury-free back. Basically it's my own fault from doing so many sit ups and standing weights etc from the age of 16-19, im now 22. I've been told it cant be "unbulged" or healed, but that the muscles can be built up around it and i can still (encouragingly!) "live a normal life"! I can still run pretty competitively but i know its holding me back.

The main relief i get from it is from doing "Pelvic floor" exercises, such as lying on your back, with your pelvis flat on the floor, and kinda recruiting your inner core, and moving your legs back and forth and bridging. recruiting your inner core is basically like trying to stop yourself from going to the toilet, its that same feeling or motion.

Its great that we can all come on here and share similar problems and remedies, thanks so much. It gets disheartening when you've had it for so long but i'm just striving to improve my "inner core" and get to the stage where it doesn't hinder me anymore. Good luck
Composed and Compressed
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/3/2009 10:03PM - in reply to mr degenerative Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
hi mr degenerative, hang in there! sorry to here it's been so long for you. have you tried epidurals, or were you given any prognosis or treatment program to achieve 100% recovery, or were you prescribed only the pelvic floor exercise? sounds like you must have a pretty large bulge there. perhaps you and i are part of that 5% that doesn't self heal.

my sports orthopedist said so far that if it doesn't hurt that i can go ahead and run, although i have my doubts about that since I am so sore afterwards from all the compensating my body has to do to keep cadence. i would think that at 22, you could make a full recovery. kind of scary when they talk about 'living a normal life', eh. this is my greatest worry that i'll wind up with a permanent limp and at a young age too!
mr degenerative
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/4/2009 9:34AM - in reply to Composed and Compressed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
yeah i agree with that. my opinion is that it won "self-heal" and i have been told that from physios/physical therapists. No i haven't tried epidurals, I'm not so sure about them. the relief they provide is more temporary than permanent?
So far, I've only been doing the pelvic floor exercises, but i realise i need to step on a bit and do some further programme to get back close to 100% - I'd settle for 90%!!
Hope it goes alright for you too, if it's hurting on your runs, then i can't agree with continuing like that. That cant be good, whenever it hurts me, i tend not to run, or maybe to cross train if I can manage it. Anyway, good luck with it all
mr extrusion
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/4/2009 10:01AM - in reply to mr degenerative Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
The tough thing with back pain is every single case is unique.

I had a tore L5-S1 in 2006. This was a 10 year progressive problem and the disk finally tore expelling a chunk about the size of a grape. I ran a marathon that spring in the 2:40's and 3 months later my right leg was nearly useless. In my opinion running did not cause the problem, but rather other activities in my life.

Nothing gave me relief so under the knife I went. The disk was gutted and my space is now very small. I do live an almost 100% normal life. Instead of running up to 70mpw I can only manage about 2-3 runs a week and only run within about a minute of where I was in 5K.

I do not believe I'll ever be able to take marathon training again. Daily life is nearly normal with some pain now and then. Sitting here typing I'd never know I had an issue. Some days are better than others.

From what I've read and have been told a damaged disk itself cannot heal. As far as I know there is no blood supply to a disk. You simply maintain the injury and hope it doesn't get worse as mine did.
ocx
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/4/2009 10:16AM - in reply to mr degenerative Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
The epidurals WORK!
Well, except the first one...
But go to a pain management center where they know how to give them..
My FIRST epidural, I went to my local hospital and some anethesisoligist there gave it to me while I was just sitting on a guerney.
I passed out, when i woke up I was soaked with sweat.
A couple of weeks later I was sent from a bone and joint clinic to the Bloomington Pain management center (Doc Gettlefinger)
The man said" Your chart says no more epidurals, but man I gotta shoot ya again"
I let him and I am glad I did.
They laid me face down on a table and he guided those needles in (long needles) and would occasionally check the x-ray to make sure they were going to the right spot.
The pain went away in less than 12 hours.
My drop foot continued for another 2 weeks and was very much lessened by the first two shots (total of 3)
I went back in April and he said one more time..
So, he shot me for a fourth time.
On Saturday May 2nd for the first time since January I could walk on my toes.
Jubilant.
I still have pain my tailbone and the left leg is still weak.
It's probably 90% of the right leg..
I can now step up two steps with my left leg leading and that is also a first.

Will it come back?
They say it could and it may, but try the conservative approach FIRST..
1. Pain management center

2. Physical Therapy (no matter how Mickey Mouse it seems do it, it all combines to do good things)

3. WALK- I came to work for 106 days at level 10 and people cringed when they saw me walking on the road at noon..
In a quarter mile walk one day, I got offered a ride 7 times.
Another time a car stopped, the window rolled down and all the guy did was stick his hand out the window and point up..he said "There are buzzards following you" then just drove off
AND THERE WAS.

4. CORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I timed myself in a walk once.
It took 14 minutes to walk 400 meters....that was in February..I ran a 1600 in 8:26 yesterday.
It may come to surgery someday and each day you just hold your breath and every pain you feel in the back almost causes me to have a nervous breakdown..but you gotta go..
Tonight, I'll be riding a bike following 8 freshman and 2 sophomores on a cross country summer training workout..
that and lifting 5 gallons of water in my truck and 2 gallons of gatorade are putting the L4 S1 to the test,,,
but you gotta go man....what choice?

sorry for the rant....This was the most profound injury in 31 years and 80,000 miles of running ad I dunno if I ever want to try every day training again ever.
Compressed
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/4/2009 11:19AM - in reply to ocx Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
OCX, glad to hear your up to a mile again. That pain sounds awful. Mine was level 10 for the first 3 weeks until I got some Vicodin into me and even that didn't really work--I was popping 2 pills and still it was super painful and I would have to go and float in a tub, but I didn't dare take another since my heart and breathing rates were dropping so low with 2.

Like I said, no pain now, thank goodness. I'm just really upset that even with a good diet I'm putting on weight and I didn't realize how much running contributed to controlling that.

Guess I'm off to the elliptical and conservative treatment. The MRI report should be back today. I'll definitely try the epidurals. What sort of Core work is everyone doing?
ocx
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/4/2009 11:52AM - in reply to Compressed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
1. Butt squeezes..lay flat on your back and squeeze your butt cheeks in..incredible when yoy first start doing just that, the relief it gives

2. Bridges...then after the the 20th bridge, do 20-30 kicks while your in the bridge position.
kick one leg up back down and be up on your toes (if you can while you do it..Come down on your toes, (if you know what I mean)

turn over on your side

3. Clams-Legs bent lift one knee up..looks like a clam sort of....after doing 30..straighten legs out, still laying on your side..

4. Side leg lifts..When I had drop foot, I couldn't even lift the leg up....after 30 of these repeat on other side, then turn over on your stomach,

5. Legs straight out..lift one at a time UP and back down, working those butt cheeks..30 of those...walk over to a good solid slick wall..
Feet out a ways, brace your shoulders and back against the wall and do squats..sliding down the wall..2 sets of 20..that is the only thing besides bike riding that has helped the tailbone pain.....

and the two best things that are helping my dead left leg?

1. Walking...just do it. and believe it or not, something that I thought up myself.....

2. Skipping...Like when you were a little kid..skipping..with a little hop...
Makes you come down on the dead foot..it gets stronger..

When I was at my worst, I'd go up to a nipple high concrete wall, brace my arms along it..just lay them there and try to "run in place"..that was pathetic looking, but it started the recovery ball rolling.
runtherockies
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/4/2009 12:22PM - in reply to Composed and Compressed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Composed and Compressed,

I can definitely relate and empathize with what you are going through.

My Story:

Injured back doing a standing long jump in a fitness contest at work. This happened two weeks before the Pikes Peak ascent and I was flat out on my back for 3 days. Dr. prescribed intense PT so that I could possibly have a shot at still running the Ascent. I did end up running the ascent and did pretty well with no pain.

Gradually over the next month, I developed the shooting pains and tightness and PT advised to stop running. After three weeks off and improvement in symptoms, eased back into running. Symptoms began to return, took more time off, more PT. MRI confirmed significant bulge in L5/S1 and nerve impingement.

Fast-forward three years... Not one day in that three years was I pain free, back always felt on the verge of going out on my. I unsuccessfully tried to start running three or four times only to be forced to quit shortly after starting. Finally after the second year, I resigned myself to never running again and in fact did not for a full year. Tried Chiro, PT, Acupuncture, hell I would have gone to a Witch Doctor at that point.

4 months ago... Saw on a similar thread, I think here on LRC that someone recommended the book "7 Steps to a Pain Free Life” by Robin McKenzie. I went to Amazon and started to read the reviews. Read all of them and was filled with new hope. I immediately drove to Borders and bought the book. Within 10 days, I was noticing remarkable improvement and a few days after that I was COMPLETELY Pain free. This was the first pain free day I had in over three years. I was skeptical that this could continue but here I am 4 months later and am 100% pain free. Three Months ago I started running again and have ramped my mileage up and am signed up for the Ascent again. My ramp up of miles has not caused any issues with my back whatsoever.

A few recommendations if you get the book.

1) Definitely read the whole thing through before starting the exercises. It does not take long.

2) While you are still experiencing the pain, do the exercises religiously every 3 hours, every day until after the pain disappears.

3) In my case, the pain actually intensified before it got better. The book actually says that this may occur.

4) Really pay attention to the sections about posture. I work behind a computer all day and I had terrible posture. I think proper posture is the key to long-term back health.

Sorry to write such a long post but I literally feel like I have been given my life back and just feel the need to tell my story and let anyone with long term back problems that their is hope.

Good Luck!!!!!!!
recent lumbar problem
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/4/2009 12:59PM - in reply to runtherockies Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Here is a website illustrating a bunch of the exercises that helped me. Look at all the different sections, not just the first page.

http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/exercise/exercise-sciatica-a-herniated-disc
Composed and Compressed
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/4/2009 2:57PM - in reply to runtherockies Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Hi Runtherockies,

Wow, after reading your story and OCX, I'm feeling pretty lucky that I don't feel pain. That said, again, pain is not my problem, but I thank you anyway. Mine is the loss of power transfer in the sole of my foot from the ball to the calf due to the nerve impingement at S1--that of course is coming from the disc bulge. Any idea if your book's exercises treats this subject? I'm really happy for you that you are competing again and are pain free. I'd love to join you, but running up a hill is about the last thing I can do right now without proper foot pushoff, although I can run about 2 miles on the flats. I guess I should consider myself lucky that I have no pain and can walk fine, so long as I don't run at all--usually limp after running because of my calf muscles being so fatigued due to their compensating for the lack of foot power.

Thanks for everyone' s notes. I'm listening to all of you. It sounds like there is some symptomatic variety with the L5-S1 from extreme pain to none at all (my case). Would love to hear from anyone who has recovered any nerve functionality.
Composed and Compressed
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/4/2009 2:59PM - in reply to recent lumbar problem Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
@ recent lumbar problem, thanks for those exercises. they look pretty easy to do. what kind of lumbar problem were you having?



recent lumbar problem wrote:

Here is a website illustrating a bunch of the exercises that helped me. Look at all the different sections, not just the first page.

http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/exercise/exercise-sciatica-a-herniated-disc
common
RE: Anybody make a 100% recovery from a L5-S1 nerve compression? 6/4/2009 3:12PM - in reply to Composed and Compressed Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I empathize with you all, and thank you for sharing these stories and the rehab information. I don't currently have any back problems, but I appreciate what you are sharing from a preventative standpoint. Reading through this thread makes me want to take better care of my back, and not take it for granted when lifting, working, etc. Cheers, and best of luck with your recoveries.
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