Anyone here got a Herniated Disc?

Sorry to hear about your injury. I wish you the best!

As always, it’s advisable to work with your doctors and those you trust, as each person’s body is unique. For what it’s worth, a family member of mine has multiple herniated, bulging, and/or crushed discs in their back. It’s caused decades of problems and for years kept this person off their bike. What finally worked for them was finding a bike with a very specific geometry that aligned their back in a way they could pedal without inflicting excess pressure on the injured sections of their spine.

It took months of trying every bike we could get our hands on and making all sorts of modifications to stack height, reach, pedal position, saddle, etc. In the end, though, one was a clear winner and now this family member is back to riding almost daily.

No one here will be able to help you with this unfortunately. A competent PT will determine your “motion preference”, meaning some people get symptom reduction with flexion (or bending) of the lower back and some will get symptom reduction with extension (arching) of the lower back. Everyone is different.

And a word of caution for everyone. Herniated discs are a common finding on lumbar spine MRIs and only sometimes are contributing to symptoms. For the spine specifically, imaging and results and symptoms only rarely coincide. Many of my patients have herniated discs in their lumbar or cervical spine and only a few ever present with lumbar spine disc herniation type pain (meaning they can’t even sit it makes their leg and back pain so bad, cant bend at the waist at all, etc…). So patients with multiple disc herniations will present as a flexion or bending preference to motion - even though in theory, that would make their symptoms worse.

Don’t ever let a clinician begin giving you exercises with a thorough examination that is based only on imaging findings as that is improper and inappropriate care. An exam based on symptom provocation and movement is the only way to go.


Thank you for this insight.

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What you will find is that extension is helping to encourage the bulge or herniation slowly back into its groove, and the flexion is looking to gently stretch the spinal muscles that are getting short and tight from the repetitive extension exercise.
The flexion is only performed when you feel comfortable to do so, and even then you gradually build up to that stretch shown in the image as you can further set yourself back.
Check out the McKenzie Method, it’s my go to when I have an acute episode, and it’s gives you far more information of why you do these exercises at the beginning and build up gradually the range of movement.

I have taken a seriously dim view of anyone injecting anything into my body. The problem with injections is there is no way to make sure that the ‘juice’ stays where it is injected, and that the person doing the injection won’t hit something on the way in. I had an injection for a neuroma and the person doing it hit a nerve and I had lower leg/foot pain for a couple of days. Not helpful. I passed on more shots and chose surgery, and turns out that there was no way the injections would have helped. (Go big or go home)

I have tried to keep my core strength up to support my spine, but have been dealing with issues in other areas due to the pressure on the nerves that are in the area of the injury. It seems sometimes like a race against time as to when the injury itself needs to be fixed, or the peripheral pain gets bad enough to effect my training/riding/walking/mowing/life.

Stretching and core workouts. Something everyone should be doing, but seems to be far more important to me. Yet still I am having intense episodes of pain down one leg on occasion, near debilitating pain and have to just wait it out. Some positions on the bike seem to exacerbate it at times. (I suffered a stretched ligament in my wrists by hitting a huge seam on a rail trail, and was surprised it didn’t activate my back, surprisingly, but the ligament I stretched is one of the worst to injure apparently, so discs and ligaments are important)

Good luck. It sucks, but if you manage it well, you should be able to avoid surgery. I still remember the day it happened. :anguished::disappointed:

It’s going to depend on which direction the disc moved. I was told that I needed to stop doing certain things I was doing because it could allow the disc to move more in a way that could cause more nerve issues. I have a ‘back revolution’ inverted sit up machine/stand, and so far every PT has said that is a bad idea for where my injury happened. I liked doing that exercise, and thought it was a great core exercise, but have found other things that are less strenuous on the back. I was also advised to do the ‘cobra pose’ like a madman, and avoid the ‘dog pose’. (Extension versus flexion) Just because it might result in the disc shifting or something. Good luck…

I had a ruptured disc L4/L5 that affected my daily life for 10 years. I was newer to cycling near the end of the 10 years and could ride 90 mins max before the pain was unbearable.

Finally after a day of spreading mulch, I bent down and had a spasm event so bad that I spent the night on the bathroom tiles. My wife (then girlfriend) was out of town for an extended time and was super fortunate that my mom actually flew in to help me.

I ended up getting a spinal fusion surgery about a month later (now 7 years ago) and it was life changing. The doctor said it would be a six week recovery but it was more like six months, and physical therapy was the thing that pushed me over the “recovered” finish line.

My back now is not perfect and I’ve accepted that, but I’m much improved from where I was. Surgery was a drastic step with risks and there are definitely some drawbacks to fusion: I now have no moment in the L4/L5 level, so reduced flexibility. Came out the surgery with some “minor” nerve damage that left me with reduced sensation and (I think) reduced muscle control in my upper glutes which has led to some imbalances. I’m not pain free, but simple daily tasks like tooth brushing and sitting in a chair are no longer something I fear.

I had a bulging, torn disc L5/S1 that was causing sciatic pain and stopped me from running back in 2012 or so. Ended up getting cortisone shots (out patient procedure) and not only did they not help at all, they triggered mood instability which I was unaware of but my doctor should have been aware of as my records show bipolar disorder and it is apparently a known issue.

In the end I took an extended break from running, started doing daily core exercises. I think the dead bugs were probably the most effective as they helped me keep my lower back flat while under load. Picked up tennis after 3-4 months of just walking and core work and it didn’t bother the back at all and was then able to resume running later.

My advice would be to focus on getting it resolved, even if that involves changing your position or taking a few months off so you can continue what you want to do later instead of this being an ongoing issue for the rest of your life.

Hope it’s not too much trouble for you.

Classic surgeon… it’s like when you ask a software dev for an estimate you should just assume double or triple.

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