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Bad back? Surgery? Dang, how'd that happen?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,002
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:22 AM in New Member Introductions
I've been around a bunch of forums and message boards, mostly related to triathlon and multisport........never would have guessed I would end up here. :O

I am a 50-year old full-time multisport coach and competitive age group triathlete who has suffered from what I assumed was a soft tissue hamstring/glute issue for the past 3-4 years.

It would usually worsen towards the end of race season, but a little more focus on stretching and deep tissue massage would keep it at bay until I got to late fall and the off-season where I could enjoy a drop in training intensity and volume.

Not this year..........I found myself in March with a half ironman looming and me crying my way through a mere 70 minute run due to left leg pain and weakness. I finally agreed to go to an Ortho suspecting a stress fracture in my hip or something similar. After xrays, Dr suggested I had hip bursitis, but wanted to discuss my back pain. I had no back pain until he showed me that I also had no disc at L5/S1.

Fast foward past MRI that showed herniations there and L4/5, a stint with the MacKenzie Method, 6 weeks of aggressive and painful ART, 2 SEI's, a SNRB and EMG to a minimally invasive microdiscectomy at both sites done by the NS who was willing to say I would return to a competitive lifestyle.

2 weeks post op finds me recognizing that I didn't know what pain was. My glute and hamstring pain is mostly gone, but overall hip and leg pain, as well as constant burning nerve pain in my lower calf and foot have replaced them. My back still doesn't hurt......

I also have a weird muscle spasm thingy in my lower ribs on the right side that doesn't allow me to lie down or get much sleep at all.

Doc is sending me scrips for a Medrol pak and Lyrica and has no idea about the rib thing. I am scared to death of pain meds and try to use as little as possible. Can't help but wonder if by deciding to have surgery to get me back to training, I have opened a life changing and pain-filled can o' worms........ :/



  • I have a hard time taking medications too, because sometimes the side effects are worse then the pain itself, or, you would rather be in the pain then deal with the side effects. I have constant sleeping issues as well, trying to get comfortable by switching my self around here and there. However, I have found that plenty of ice,meditation, and relaxing has helped with the pain over all. Good luck!
  • :) hi and welcome to the forum! we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. You certainly have some pain problems. it sounds like you have done your homework and are well informed about your conditions and the treatments involved. what about a TENs unit? perhaps it will help with the leg pain! good luck and please keep us informed as you progress. we do care about how you are feeling. Jenny :)
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  • I just wanted to reiterate lulusheart's idea about a TENS unit, it has done some good for me in the past. I too was an intense competitive athlete (although my sports were volleyball and tennis, not quite as aggressive as your sports history). I have found TENS treatments to be quite helpful when also followed up by good stretching.

    I wish you luck in your recovery and search for root causes to your pain. I have a similar history (L5-S1 disk almost completely gone, L4-L5 disk ruptured and disappearing slowly), and have not played competitive sports for about 4 years. Like you, I still want to get back to that level. I have not gone ahead with surgery to repair the structural issues to date, not sure if I would ever make that choice as long as I can keep functioning with my current pain levels. But if a surgeon would make me the same promise yours made to you, I would be greatly tempted.
  • Welcome G,

    I hope that you can get some kind of comfort/relief and back into competition at some time in the nearer future. Please try to be open minded for the pain meds- they really make a difference in the quality of my life.

    I my self had to stop my training for competitive dog sports- but will be back at it as soon as I can. I went through a denial and depression period but now I have started strategizing my training goals for next years competitions.



  • is still very early in the recovery process. Don't count yourself out yet. I had a radical endoscopic microD and wish more than anything that I would not have done it. But, my surgery was failed. There are plenty out there that are success stories. I know that the docs do not prepare us at all for what the recovery will be like. Even though the incision is small it is still major surgery. I was so trusting of my doc that normally unlike myself did not get as much info as I should have preop. I was told simple procedure back to work in 2 weeks. I had it done in Dec 07 and am now disabled. I am so sorry about the pain that I know that you are experiencing and probably how unprepared that you were for the post op pain and limitations. Just follow the docs instructions to the letter and you still may heal. Your nerves are not very happy right now and you just had a couple of pieces of disc removed. That will take some time to know for sure how much you will recover. Don't give up and please keep us posted on your progress.
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