Author Topic: Back surgery advice  (Read 987 times)

surfafrica

  • Peahi Status
  • *****
  • Posts: 839
    • View Profile
    • Instagram
Back surgery advice
« on: November 28, 2019, 03:23:37 PM »
Hey all,

I've been nursing a back injury for the past 6 years.  The good news is the injury is what turned me on to surfing standup (can't prone anymore).

Scans show a bulge in the L5/S1 joint that might be touching the root nerve. The doctors I've seen (including a neurosurgeon a few years ago) have recommended conservative treatments.  Well, I've tried everything over the past 6 years (and I mean everything) and no luck.  Symptoms are actually getting a little worse (more pain down the glutes and legs).  I'm starting to really wonder if a microdisectomy is in order to free up the nerves. 

Because it's nothing deemed urgent, it'll take me a good 6-8 months to see another neurosurgeon up here in Canada.  I'm starting to think about heading to the US and pay to see someone who really specializes in the back and spine.  I'm just wondering if any of you have any good recommendations for a surgeon or surgical center I could reach out to (especially in WA, OR or CA.....anywhere good too)?
Instagram http://instagram.com/surfafrica.sup
YouTube https://goo.gl/mK0aze
Infinity RNB: 7'6 x 28, 95 L https://goo.gl/SqlWR4
Kronos LB: 8'10 x 26.5, 84 L https://goo.gl/4iQdps
Kronos Nano: 7'4 x 26, 81 L https://goo.gl/kAM8W6

supsean

  • Rincon Status
  • ***
  • Posts: 226
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2019, 08:02:05 PM »
I went to the Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC, and its supposedly the best hospital in the nation for orthopedic surgery. My discectomy went perfectly. I needed two incisions, as I had a section of my l4/l5 disc that had popped off and was stuck where the nerve goes out giving me had unbearable pain down one leg. After the surgery, I could walk without that pain immediately (although there was tons of pain due to the surgery), and it didn't take me long to get back to normal with a lot of PT. I picked up paddleboarding after the base recovery from this surgery, as my back was still stiff, and I thought it would be a fun way to get a core workout. Caught a few waves, and I got hooked. It was 4 years ago, and I don't have any sciatic pain at all and am in the best shape I've been since college (I'm 50).

ps., I did a lot of PT and injections before the surgery, but once I got to the HSS, they ordered a more complete MRI than my previous doctor, and said that because of where the disc had popped out, the PT probably wouldn't help, and recommended that I see a surgeon.
Fanatic Allwave 8'9"
Sunova Steeze 8'10"
Kenalu Ho'oloa

ninja tuna

  • Sunset Status
  • ****
  • Posts: 452
    • View Profile
Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2019, 05:37:00 AM »
I know you say you have tried everything.  One of the world's leading back guys is from Canada, Stuart McGill.  He has a great book called the back mechanic along with videos that go with it.  Would only take a week to read it and watch the accompanying video's.  One of his patient's wrote his own book about the his recovery with Dr Mcgill. A powerlifter named Brian Carroll.  Brian had a broken back and multiple disc problems and still set powerlifting records after.

https://www.amazon.com/Mechanic-VIDEO-ENHANCED-VERSION-Stuart-McGill/dp/097350188X/ref=pd_sbs_14_t_1/144-0265771-6897369?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=097350188X&pd_rd_r=f84813f9-10e5-4f6a-94f3-16fbf4439b08&pd_rd_w=5ZA9b&pd_rd_wg=vr9pN&pf_rd_p=5cfcfe89-300f-47d2-b1ad-a4e27203a02a&pf_rd_r=77CQMN1ZASZVV77QKJ9D&psc=1&refRID=77CQMN1ZASZVV77QKJ9D

https://www.amazon.com/Injury-Stuart-McGill-Brian-Carroll/dp/0973501863/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_3/144-0265771-6897369?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0973501863&pd_rd_r=b2bedd23-7e5b-428c-aee8-458bdaa597c4&pd_rd_w=YifV4&pd_rd_wg=T6XRS&pf_rd_p=09627863-9889-4290-b90a-5e9f86682449&pf_rd_r=19DECSK3FHT5BGS1WS8R&psc=1&refRID=19DECSK3FHT5BGS1WS8R


I know everyone's backs are different as well as everyone's injuries.  Don't know what your injury is, but reading these couldn't hurt prior to doing anything.  Neurosurgeon have one way of fixing something and orthopedic surgeons have another.

surfafrica

  • Peahi Status
  • *****
  • Posts: 839
    • View Profile
    • Instagram
Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2019, 09:41:17 AM »
ninja... Great resource. Thanks.  I'll pick up his book.

supsean... I've heard good things about HSS. Thanks for your story.
Instagram http://instagram.com/surfafrica.sup
YouTube https://goo.gl/mK0aze
Infinity RNB: 7'6 x 28, 95 L https://goo.gl/SqlWR4
Kronos LB: 8'10 x 26.5, 84 L https://goo.gl/4iQdps
Kronos Nano: 7'4 x 26, 81 L https://goo.gl/kAM8W6

sflinux

  • Waikiki Status
  • *
  • Posts: 33
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2019, 12:09:13 PM »
I know you said you've tried everything...
Dr. Eric Goodman's Foundation training has helped me.  He has a lot of youtube videos.  His latest book is here:
https://www.amazon.com/True-Form-Foundation-Training-Sustained/dp/0062315315/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_3/136-3224519-1652128?
Another book that has helped me was Ming Chew.  His book not only has stretches, but has ideas about supplements and hydration.  His latest book is available here:
https://www.amazon.com/Permanent-Pain-Cure-Breakthrough-Muscle/dp/0071627138/ref=sr_1_1?
I wish you the best of luck.  My back just acted up after a session, wondering if it was from my waist harness.
Quiver Shaped by: Joe Blair, Blane Chambers, Kirk McGinty, and Bob Pearson.
Me: 195#, 6'2"

surfafrica

  • Peahi Status
  • *****
  • Posts: 839
    • View Profile
    • Instagram
Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2019, 12:21:27 PM »
...
Dr. Eric Goodman's Foundation training has helped me.
...

I LOVE Foundation Training.  I've been doing it for a couple of years. 
Instagram http://instagram.com/surfafrica.sup
YouTube https://goo.gl/mK0aze
Infinity RNB: 7'6 x 28, 95 L https://goo.gl/SqlWR4
Kronos LB: 8'10 x 26.5, 84 L https://goo.gl/4iQdps
Kronos Nano: 7'4 x 26, 81 L https://goo.gl/kAM8W6

clay

  • Peahi Status
  • *****
  • Posts: 774
    • View Profile
    • www.clayisland.com
    • Email
Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2019, 12:40:21 PM »
Being in pain sucks, hope you find relief soon.

In my twenties I had a bulging disk and was in pain for almost 2 years.   My dad had recently had disc surgery and I talked to his surgeon who advise me to not have any surgery and wait it out.

I have yet to meet anyone with back pain who isn't super stressed.  Some people don't even know they are stressed, but take a look at their circumstances and they are getting divorced or have financial problems or similar.

John Sarno's Healing Back Pain was the turning point for me.

I wrote about my experience here:
https://clayisland.com/relief-from-and-healing-back-pain/
Aloha, I welcome and appreciate all responses of positivity and good feeling.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOIE6FWr1SpWvbPJIIiEgog

TallDude

  • Cortez Bank Status
  • *****
  • Posts: 4996
  • Capistrano Beach native
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2019, 09:05:08 PM »
Clay, glad you found a path to controlling your pain. Pain does dictate your life. In my mid to late 20's I was suffering from severe back and leg pain. My Sciatica was pinched and the pain dictated every minute of my life for almost 3 years. I learned how to sleep and keep my right leg moving. My wife and I had just started dating and she thought it was the weirdest thing. You cope. Ibuprofen then Acetaminophen and back every four hours for years. For me, staying upright and moving was my only relief. I could not sit or lay down. I'm 6'7 and 220 lbs now, but back then I weighed 175 lbs. I don't remember what started it, but I noticed everything that was aggravating it. Road bike, windsurfing, surfing and running were all no go.
 
I first went to an orthro and x-rays. Nothing obvious other than an unusually straight spine. No curve either way in my back. They put me in PT at the hospital. It kept getting worse. I didn't have insurance so all the money I made went into fixing my back. I was framing houses and doing foundations at the time. I always felt better while I was working. Sometimes I'd have too many tools and nails in my work bags and that pressure would cause a flare up at work. I could manage that, but once I got in my truck to go home the pain would kick in. Sometimes I had to pull off the road and just walk around to give my self a break from the pain.

The next thing I tried was the Chiropractor. The adjustment and their PT. Six more months of getting tighter and tighter with zero improvement. When the nerves are sending out pain signals 24/7, the body just starts locking up. I had a fullsize F-250 and I could barely get into my truck. The only way I could travel long distances was to lay down in someones camper shell or Van. I couldn't drive more than 20 minutes without being almost in tears. Speaking of tears, that was every night as the non-prescription pain meds wore off and I had to get out of bed. Putting my heel down on the floor hurt more than any of the bone breaks I'd had. In fact my hands and feet were numb most of the time.

The next thing was Acupuncture. That was the first treatment that actually got right onto the nerve and short circuited the pulses of pain. It replaced it with a electric wave form. This was a major turning point for me. The Acupuncturist was very smart and from China. She said my pelvis is being pulled down by my tight hamstrings which was causing the Sciatic nerve to be pinched right at the L5/S1. When I work the muscles loosen up and the pelvis would move back into position. As soon as I quit working the muscles would tighten up and the waves of pain would return. She also notice that a had stomach/diet issues. She said this just compounded the problem. I started paying more attention to my diet, and excluded any foods that cause gas pains. Beans, spicy foods and milk. Even though I knew this was a turning point, the Acupuncture did not fix the problem.

My wife kept hounding me about stretching and gave me this big book on stretching. Somewhere in those hundreds of pages and drawings was something for me, but where to start. I don't remember how I came about the stretching routine I started with, but it was the path to a new life for me. I couldn't stretch while I was tight and in pain, so I needed my muscles to be warm before I stretched. I would go for a jog and then hang over and stretch my hamstrings. I couldn't even reach my knees. My wive had been putting on my shoes for the past 2 years. After about a week of jogging and stretching out my hamstrings (hang and count to a hundred), I added the hurdlers stretch. Two weeks into to my routine I could reach my knees. Two more weeks I could reach my shins. I added a calf stretch next.

 It was around this time I had the biggest breakthrough, I slept a whole night without any pain meds. I didn't have to fight the tears of putting my heel on the ground. After a few months, I could touch the floor and I was completely pain free. I never thought I would ever be pain free. Certain events would cause the pain to flair up, but I would immediately go for a jog and stretch it out. The pain would be gone within a day. I have stretched every night for the past 30 years because I remember the pain. I also stretch while I'm doing any physical activity. My body is aligned and I maintain that alignment.

As far as back surgery, I would have done it in a heartbeat if a doctor had told me that it was the only way to get pain relief. My disc's were not herniated, but they were being compressed because of my rotated pelvis. My dad had two semi successful back surgeries. His disc's were herniated from college football injuries and it plagued him most of his life.   

SurfAfrica, good luck on your quest for your own solution. Take care brother....
« Last Edit: November 29, 2019, 09:09:46 PM by TallDude »

surfinJ

  • Teahupoo Status
  • ******
  • Posts: 1705
    • View Profile
Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2019, 01:19:11 AM »
Welcome back surfafrica.

TallDude that was a powerful post. 

PonoBill

  • Cortez Bank Status
  • *****
  • Posts: 22904
    • View Profile
    • Ponohouse is for sale. Great house but it's time for new adventures
Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2019, 10:16:06 AM »
Super useful post TallDude. It reminded me that when my hips start aching when I'm foiling it's because I didn't stretch. It's easy to skip spending 15 minutes stretching before starting a session, but I pay for it, every time. Yesterday I did an hour and a half wingfoiling at Kanaha then went looking for Headmount (Boyum) and did three hours at the Harbor. No stretching. I was a wreck all afternoon and finally just laid down and slept the day away. Fifteen minutes cost me hours that I could have been doing something fun.

Dumb.
Ponohouse is for sale: http://www.ponohouse.com
Foote 10'4X34", SIC 17.5 V1 hollow and an EPS one in Hood River. Foote 9'0" x 31", L41 8'8", 18' Speedboard, etc. etc.

FRP

  • Bob
  • Sunset Status
  • ****
  • Posts: 381
    • View Profile
Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2019, 02:09:51 PM »
Africa, hope you find some relief and are able to get back out surfing.

Tall dude very interesting story thanks for posting. I was intrigued that you stretch after activity and Bill stretches before. I am sure that this is old news but my understanding is that the optimal time to stretch is after exercise and activity. I seem to remember some studies years ago that found if you stretch before activity that there is an increased risk of injury. I never stretch before surfing but most often do a warmup by cycling. If motivated I will stretch after surfing but usually just "Savasana".

Cheers,

Bob
Sunova 8'10" Speeed
Sunova 8’7” Creek
Werner Nitro Carbon
KeNalu Konihi 84 adjustable
Kialoa Pipes II

"The time spent surfing is time that is added to my life" “In the ocean we are all connected”
Anon

ospreysup

  • Malibu Status
  • **
  • Posts: 64
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2019, 02:49:35 PM »
All really good advice. I suffer from degenerative disc disease in L4 and L5, and arthritis in L3 and L4. I could barely walk for a year. I went to see specialist after specialist. Physical Therapists treated me like I was 100 and didn't care about my goals for fitness, pain management Drs. wanted to drug me and Surgeons wanted to cut me.  I was hopeless because none of those  seemed like good options for me.

Heres what I've learned and  what I have incorporate from the really good suggestions already given.

Ninja Turtle suggested Stu McGill. He is the foremost expert on the spine. I practice his breathing and bracing (core strengthening) techniques daily. When incorporated regularly you learn to protect your spine and avoid injury. He has a ton of interviews and  Youtube views to get a feel for his work.

Sflinux suggested Eric Goodmans Foundation Training. His  work is where I started and it got me out of pain. He incorporates proper movement patterns, specifically Hip Hinging to unload the spine. He also incorporates anchoring and breathing to lengthen the spine. This produces quick results. I have move passed Foundation Training but I encourage anyone with back pain to give it a go. It was the beginning of my healing and can be done anywhere.

Talldude suggested stretching. I utilize movement patterns from Kelly Starrett and Trevor Bachmeyer daily. Often back pain is the result of tight hamstrings and/or hip flexors. When these muscles tighten/shorten they pull on your spine. Like Talldude this was the main culprit of my pain.

McGill and Goodman both have certified trainers on their websites. Including in Canada. McGill is Canadian. It's at least worth a consult.

I am so glad I persevered. I am not pain free and the arthritis can be quite painful. But I manage my pain without medication and surgery and have not been depilated in 2+ years. I  am moving better at 55 then I was at  35.

Good luck.. Back pain is awful!


PonoBill

  • Cortez Bank Status
  • *****
  • Posts: 22904
    • View Profile
    • Ponohouse is for sale. Great house but it's time for new adventures
Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2019, 07:03:51 PM »
Africa, hope you find some relief and are able to get back out surfing.

Tall dude very interesting story thanks for posting. I was intrigued that you stretch after activity and Bill stretches before. I am sure that this is old news but my understanding is that the optimal time to stretch is after exercise and activity. I seem to remember some studies years ago that found if you stretch before activity that there is an increased risk of injury.

I've read the same thing, but I stretch to be able to do the activities I want to do without pain or stiffness when I'm doing it--different goal. I stretched for ten minutes before today's long session wingfoiling. I was out from 10:40 AM to about 2:00 PM with one short break to drink some water and swap out foils. I hit it hard when I'm wingfoiling, I'm trying to learn everything at once and having fun at the same time. I felt fine for the whole session and I feel great now.
Ponohouse is for sale: http://www.ponohouse.com
Foote 10'4X34", SIC 17.5 V1 hollow and an EPS one in Hood River. Foote 9'0" x 31", L41 8'8", 18' Speedboard, etc. etc.

surfafrica

  • Peahi Status
  • *****
  • Posts: 839
    • View Profile
    • Instagram
Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2019, 01:12:57 PM »
Thanks all.

I've been working with this injury for the past 6-7 years.  And over the years, I've tried almost everything--physio, chiro, trigger point injections, laser therapy, massage, steroid injections.  Only active things have had any effect.

The first was SUP.  I joined this forum a year and a half after the injury and was blown away with where SUP shapes were (vs my old 2008 board).  I ordered a SIMS from L41 within days--it changed everything.  It got me back out on the water after thinking I wouldn't surf again and helped me rebuild my core and balance (after almost 2 years of doing almost no activity).

My next big step forward came from discovering Foundation Training a couple of years ago.  It's a solid program. But I still have a long way to go.

Ninja, thanks for the Stuart McGill mention. How have I not heard of him before!?!  I picked up Back Mechanic and read it cover to cover. Everything is backed by science (not pop-culture science, hard science). I really like his approach. I was doing a lot right, but quickly found a few things I need to adjust after just a first read. I'll be doing more with this.
Instagram http://instagram.com/surfafrica.sup
YouTube https://goo.gl/mK0aze
Infinity RNB: 7'6 x 28, 95 L https://goo.gl/SqlWR4
Kronos LB: 8'10 x 26.5, 84 L https://goo.gl/4iQdps
Kronos Nano: 7'4 x 26, 81 L https://goo.gl/kAM8W6

SurfnCJ8

  • Waikiki Status
  • *
  • Posts: 13
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Back surgery advice
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2019, 04:48:52 PM »
Best of luck with your back and please keep us updated on how you are doing. Also, thanks for posting this and thanks to everyone for all the info.

I had injured my back about 10yrs ago ( L5:S1) and it ended up requiring surgery. It had been bothering me again over the summer and has increasingly gotten worse. Have not been able to surf and had just been thinking about posting on here for advice. I haven't been on here for a few days and when I checked back in you had posted this and pretty much covered it all.

In regards to the microdiscectomy, that is what I had and mine has been fine for years up until now. I reinjured it at work, had to move a lot of heavy stuff and if it were not for that it would probably still be fine from the original repair.

I am going to look up the books, etc that have been recommended here as well.