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  1. #1

    Returning from a back injury

    Alright guys, I'm looking for a little advice and moral support from you back injury survivors. The thread about someone coming back from a shoulder injury prompted me to post this. I've been out of the water for almost 8 months, yeah it has sucked majorly. I first hurt my back dropping in on a wave and had some subsequent reinjuries being stupid that finally forced me to get out of the water at the end of this past August and allow myself to heal. Never thought it'd be a 7 month+ recovery process. Had an MRI, "minor" bulging disc, which was a pretty good diagnosis, but despite everything I've done, been in varying levels of pain everyday since then. I have newly found empathy for people who have to live in chronic pain, talk about depressed. PT, 3 cortisone shots, months of rest, and now 2 1/2 months of hard work in the gym hasn't helped the pain very much, but I can say my core is stronger than it's ever been, and I'm starting to get myself back in decent shape. I just don't know when I should paddle out. I've waited all this time for my back to start feeling "normal" again, but at this point it seems like I could be waiting years for that to happen. I know sometimes in the rehab process you have to push through some pain, but I've also disregarded pain with this back injury and look where I ended up. I know no one has the answer, but I'm hoping some dudes on here can share their comeback stories or experiences with back pain and when they decided to paddle out, and how their bodies responded. Thanks guys, it's been hard to stay sane like this

  2. #2
    Yah that friggin blows big time.

    Had my share of back issues from years of catching pro ball & the pounding from lax & every other sport under the sun. And now surfing.......surfing is tough on the back & neck.

    I'd bail on the cortisone. Nasty stuff with medium-term harsh consequences. Same with prednisone; although you didn't mention that poison a lot of people get pumped with it. And you're to be commended for not letting the hack car mechanics start cutting on you.

    Don't know where you're located, and I realize that you've tried PT & a lot more, but will strongly recommend CORE PT in NWDC, If it's accessible for you. If not, well, like I said that's my 2 centavos.

    "What do you call the guy who graduates first in his medical school class?"

    "What do you call the guy who graduates last in his medical school class?"

    You get my drift.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    VA Beach
    GrantLee: I really don't know very much about this or have any helpful answers. Have you tried doing any kind of swimming in a pool yet? That might be a place to start. I mention swimming, not only because of its similarity to paddling, but President Kennedy, who injured his back in WWII would swim as a form of exercise that did not aggravate his back injury.
    I wish you the best. I know it's not easy. But you do see or hear about those who have overcome very serious injuries (wounded vets, Bethany Hamilton, and others) who are out there on the water, so hang in there.

  4. #4
    Yankee, I'm in VA Beach, by NWDC do you mean northwest DC? I used to live up in Stafford County but like I said, VB now. Definitely agree with you about not all doctors being equal, or anywhere close. Maybe somebody in the VB area can recommend a physical therapist who is top notch, not that the guy I was seeing was bad, I just think his knowledge of back injuries was only average. Dos, yep I've been swimming for the past month or month and a half. Try to twice a week. I can't say the pain is any worse since I've been steadily increasing my work outs, but it's not really any better. Idk man

  5. #5
    Go here,
    Buy this,

    I put it on my wifes arthritic hands and she can use the for the rest of the day. I put in on my neck and back. it burns but only where it hurts. my wife always tells me her hands are on fire afterwards. my hand don't.

    My back used to go out a couple times a year until I moved my wallet to my front pocket. Takes time getting used to. for several years I'd grab my pocket thinking my wallet was gone.

    reminds me of a song

  6. #6
    Bulging disk - been there, done that...did the therapy, shots, spinal injections, etc...things helped, but nothing "fixed" the problem. Just pushed through the pain and kept doing what I was doing. Eventually the disk exploded and I was done, couldn't move. Had to go under the knife. After that and the subsequent rehab I was finally fixed. In retrospect I wish I had done it 5 years earlier. Maybe 10.

    I would heed Yankee's advice though. Get a real, highly recommended sports therapist to work with. Get references and check them. However, if you aren't getting fixed you may want to consider surgery. If the disc is still healthy (i.e. not in danger of collapse) then you could consider just getting the bulge shaved off. They can do it outpatient and have you back on your feet in a few days.

    I had to have the disk removed and a lumbar fusion of my vertebrae. No issues since then other than the normal, occasional soreness from over exertion.

    Its a tough call to go under the knife, and I've been cut on enough in my life, but in retrospect I should have realized after years of trying everything else it wasn't working and just got it done.

    If you do decide to go that route and want the name of my surgeon in Raleigh let me know. In talking to the staff at the hospital everyone raved about him and he was the go to guy for when they or people in their family had issues. I am 100% satisfied with his work and good to go now.

    One last bit of advice...once you are "fixed" be patient the first time you get back in the water. I was so amped to get into some waves I rushed out in bad conditions, took a wave too late, and took one of the nastiest falls I ever had. Got faceplanted hard into a sandbar (good thing it was a sandbar) and scorpioned, thought for sure I'd broken the fusion apart.

    It's a horrible thing to go through what your going through, feel free to hit me up for any info or moral support you want, either here or via PM.

    Good luck on your therapy, I hope it works and you don't have to get cut.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Long Island
    Iv never had a real serious back injury but back in high school I hurt my back in a lacrosse game, I want to say I pinched my syatica(?) nerve but I am doubting myself on that. Point is I was in tears, I couldn't move. My lower back was in so much pain. I needed help getting out of bed because I couldn't move without serious pain. I was out for the rest of the season, I went to PT, the pain got better but still to this day its an issue. This was in 05 or 06, some day's are worse then others, I will get very stiff accompanied by a dull pain on the bad days. On the good days I feel fine.

    Recently iv had much fewer bad back days, and I like to think its the yoga. I started in the middle of the summer some time. Now I feel almost no pain and am rarely stiff. Ill do a more intense yoga routine on days when I don't surf, and when I do surf I will do a yoga routine that is more like stretches then a workout. Im no doctor so im not saying you should do yoga, but its something to look into. I believe DDP, the wrestler, injured his back pretty damn bad and now has his own yoga dvd set. Im sure with a quick google search you can find his website and his back injury comeback story and how yoga was what got him back, if your interested.

    Also while on topic of coming back from injury I saw a guy out in the water today who had a fake leg. He was on a SUP but it was still really cool to see him out there despite missing a leg. And it was like chest/head high.

  8. #8
    I herniated a disc in my low back last May, L5-S1 disc to be specific. I couldnt sit at my desk or stand in place for more than 20 mins at a time during the worst part. No physical activity for a month. The neurologist told me it would basically be like I had a partially flat tire on my car for the rest of my life...happy analogy.

    Anyways he receommended PT and said only 5-10% of people with similar condition end up getting surgery. Did the PT for about a month, 3x/week and noticed a definite difference. Started doing the exercises from home after that. The pain has gotten less and less over time. If it starts to bother me, i do the exercises. Down to 1-2 times per week now.

    I was only out of the water for about a month and a half. started back just longboarding and taking it easy for a few weeks after that. After 2.5-3 months, i was pretty much back to normal. I play volleyball 1-2 times per week as well, which can be pretty rough on the back. If its sore after, i usually ice it for 20 mins before bed. I've found that actually makes a big difference. Stretching, specfically my hamstrings also seems to make a big difference.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Central FL
    Quote Originally Posted by MrBiscuits View Post
    Stretching, specfically my hamstrings also seems to make a big difference.
    +1, my lower back always feels better when I stretch frequently and keep those hamstrings nice and loose, also doing some strength building in your legs can help. But stretch, stretch, and stretch some more. Some say Yoga, I say stretch at home in front of the TV.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Carolina Beach
    Same boat my man, herniation in L5 with the bulge pressing against my sciatica and an anular tear across the front. I have found that the best thing I can do is bicycle riding and yoga. Looking at having surgery soon, artificial disk replacement, scared as hell...but I cant take vicodin forever.