Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Health Note - Protruding Disc - McKenzie Exercises

Some people have been wondering if I am injured or what is going on so here is the story. Early last month, I noticed a little pain in my right hip, sliding in and out of the car. I had no idea what was going on but it seemed pretty minor at this point.

I ran both marathons in September and recovered fine, but still noticed this slight pain in the butt. I used the foam roller on it but never got any better. First week of October, I started to have shooting pains down the back of leg to top of calf. I noticed that my right hip and butt was hurting more, but whenever I would run, I felt fine. There were even times when I felt okay walking. It was strange how it would come and go.

I called Estaban (massage therapist) and got an appointment for the 15th and wished it were sooner. I felt like a massage might work out the soreness. The pains got worse but were better when I ran. I ran a 5K on October 11th. I wasn’t sure how I would do, but once I warmed up 3 miles, I could run pretty normal but a little tight. After, I could barely stand to sit in the car and getting into the car was difficult. After awhile, I could get comfortable sitting but then getting up from a chair or out of the car, I could barely walk the first few steps. I ran Rock Bridge Revenge 25K the next day and the hamstring felt pretty tight and I could feel some twinges. I learned this was sciatic nerve pain. It especially hurt me to duck under anything just like ducking into the car. Overall, it went okay, but I was glad I wasn't running the 50K.

The 50K I was planning on the 18th in Louisiana was questionable. I ran on Oct 13th and butt hurt the entire run and hamstring and calf were so tight I was afraid I was going to pull something. It was difficult to put on socks and shoes. I went to see Esteban on Thursday and he treated me for tight hamstrings. I called my doctor and was hoping to get in Friday to see if she thought I should be running, but could not until Thursday the next week. I decided to go ahead and try running the 50K. I would not run it hard and just see what I could do. It was a flat course so should be easier since no hills. I had to get up extra early race day morning and stretch myself out and get moving so I could try running. The shower in my hotel lacked a mat and I ended up falling and hitting my head on the floor. Left a nice bump and not much blood but wondered if this was a sign I shouldn’t run. I went ahead and ran the race. I was tight nearly the entire time, but ended up having a 50K PR on a flat course and placing 2nd overall. I felt pretty good during and after the race other than I could not bend over to take off my shoes.

It seemed that as long as I kept moving, I was fine. Go to bed or sit down too long, and I had problems. I felt the same as before the race, but didn’t run and went to the doctor last Thursday. She sent right away for some flat scans and an MRI that evening. She suspected a bulging disc in L5 S1. Dan S. had sent an e-mail when he read my symptoms earlier and had suspected the same. It was all confusing to me how I could have a back problem and my back didn’t hurt, but my leg was having the problems.

I never heard the MRI result on Friday, but learned from another runner about some back extension exercises (McKenzie Exercises) that were helpful for back problems including bulging discs. I started to do these assuming that would be the diagnosis and bought the book on Sat. since it had a lot of good information on posture (which I can definitely use). I’ve continued to do the exercises and ice the back where the disc is located. I am noticing a little improvement each day so I am hopeful I can get over this. Today, I was able to tie my shoes a little easier.

Today, I received the official diagnosis and they said it is disc at L5S1 that is protruding a bit (bulging disc). The protruding disc is the same thing as a bulging disc. It can get worse, but it appears maybe I have caught it early enough. Running doesn’t cause them but doesn’t help get rid of them any faster. The bulge applies pressure to the nerves in the region which signals sensations like pain and numbness in the leg. It can also inhibit range of motion and cause pain. People can often having bulging discs and not have a problem. Sometimes things can get so bad that surgery is needed.

The doctor could do an epidural steroid injection or physical therapy. I feel with the exercises I am doing that I am improving enough to treat this on my own from this point. I am taking it easy for now and have been doing the elliptical and walking. I tried weight lifting last night and could not do it. Any runs during this recovery, will be very slow, short, and low impact until I feel like it is 100% recovered. Then I will start to rebuild my fitness.
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