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Old 05-24-2010, 11:47 PM   #1
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Default Back injury/pain/weight loss/feel defeated

I've been having back pain (sometimes very intense) for a while now and I finally got sent for an MRI. I talked to my doctor and it's worse than I thought. I have three disks that are herniated, spinal stenosis AND the vertebrae was so inflamed they thought it was infected! Oh, geez.

I've been to Physical therapy but that didn't really help. My next move is an epidural but the doctor thinks I will eventually need a laminectomy or even a lumbar fusion. I started crying in his office when he told me. A big part of this emotional pain is due to my guilt over not being in shape and making my back worse with bad posture, way too much weight. Even tho' I know I couldn't have totally prevented everything going on I'm still feeling so much guilt and shame over this.

Another thing: I am always in pain and it's making me crazy. I can't take care of the house and it looks that way. DH works hard at work and has to come home and take care of what I should have but can't. I'm also looking for work and I am just scared that even if I find a job I won't be able to sit for 8 hours a day! I just got through the 2nd interview for a job I would really like to take but I'm just thinking "what if I start and I can't handle it?" My self-esteem is soooo low right now. I feel so worthless.

I'm doing okay with staying on plan with my food. If I kept up with my bad food habits I'm sure I'd even be in more pain. If I could exercise it would help my mood and fitness but I can do very, very little (like walking) - any tiny overdoing it causes major amounts of pain.

Sorry for the vent. I'm just scared because I really didn't know how actually injured my back was. Anyone else with back problems or chronic pain and still trying to get fit? I sure hope it's possible!
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Old 05-25-2010, 12:41 AM   #2
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Oh MissKoo, I'm sorry the dr. didn't have better news about your back and that you are still in pain. It is so hard to function and do normal day to day things when you are hurting. Have you talked to your physical therapist about what exercises you could do that won't aggravate you back? I think it is outstanding that you are staying on plan with nutrition. You are in my prayers and I hope you get some relief from pain soon.
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Old 05-25-2010, 12:47 AM   #3
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Awww Koo, I literally feel your pain and empathize. I have had chronic back pain, sometimes drop-me-to-the-floor severe, for the past 3-ish years. My last bout was back in February, when I wound up in the ER twice in a 2-day span because I couldn't stand, sit, walk, lay down, or do anything human-like.

I beat myself up about it a lot, the whole if I never gained this weight blah negative self talk. I was saved by an enormously kind, skilled chiropractor who got me on my feet again. I've gotten back to the gym after a 3 month absence, and so far so good. I can't recommend chiropractic care enough...the key is finding a really good doctor. I did serious research before going to mine.

Right now I'm sticking with the treadmill and water workouts. Water is no impact so it's easy on the back and joints -- if you find you can exercise, it's a great place to start as long as you're cleared by your physician or chiro.

As for the job, I say go for it. Try not to stress about the what ifs, because those will only add more stress to your life which is, in turn, really bad for your back too.

I'm an office monkey, so I sit for a large part of the day. To keep my back healthy I make sure my desk is ergonomically right for my body. I get up frequently and stretch, and I'm not shy about keeping an icepack in the freezer at the office in case I need it. If this is something you really want, please don't let this stop you.

Hang in there, and keep us posted.
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Old 05-25-2010, 08:54 AM   #4
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Do not let anyone talk you into surgery, fusion, etc. Most people I know who have had back surgery were pain free for awhile, but then the pain came back, and now they are worse off.

Concentrate on doing your physical therapy exercises and on losing weight by reducing your intake. There are also exercises you can do for your legs and upper body that will not put pressure on your lower back. Ask your PT about this.

I developed back pain thanks to overexercising and a tendency toward arthritis, but it was after I had lost weight. I agree with the previous poster who recommended chiropractic, but be sure you get someone good. Ask around.

Above all, don't try to go too fast with healing. It's been over a year since my back flared up, and it's only just now starting to ease to the point where I can do "some" of my old exercise routine.

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Old 05-25-2010, 10:21 AM   #5
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Miss Koo, big hugs! I have herniated disks, stenosis, and spondylolethesis. When you add in arthritis and bone spurs, it's the whole nine yards.

Two things keep me functional: the epidural steroid injections that your doctor was talking about and exercise. The injections (a series of two or three) last me for about a year before they wear off and we have to repeat. They make a huge difference and I urge you to give them a try. My doctor tells me that eventually they will stop working but I'm crossing my fingers that it's a long time from now.

The second is exercise. It serves two purposes: it keeps the weight off, which helps my back tremendously, and it strengthens the muscles that support my spine. By building an internal brace of muscle, it takes a great deal of pressure off my spine.

When we're dealing with back issues, we need to work out smart. It's easy to make matters worse, not better! I put together a program with the help of my back doctor, a physical therapist, and my knowledge as a personal trainer. And I modify all the time based on the feedback my body is giving me.

About 90 minutes of exercise a day works best for me, evenly divided between cardio and strength training. You say that walking hurts your back -- mine too, so I ride a recumbent bike or use the elliptical for cardio. And a program of core strengthening could go a long way in giving you some pain relief. The suggestion of water exercises is excellent if you have access!

I hear you about the guilt and shame. I beat myself up all the time about spending two decades as morbidly obese. And even though I lost the weight eight years ago, I have to deal with the consequences today. But feeling guilty doesn't change anything. It is what it is. We have to deal with the reality of how life is today. No regrets about the past, only look to the future. We can't change yesterday but we have the power to make today and tomorrow the best it can be.
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Old 05-25-2010, 11:42 AM   #6
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I have moderate to severe scoliosis (30 degree curve in the neck, 45 thoracic, 38 lumbar) At 19, I was told to start interviewing surgeons because I was going to need fusion surgery within 5 years. I have 3 bulging dessicated discs, severe bone spurring, and severe stenosis on the left side, moderate on the right. I was in a lot of pain, and the gauntlet came down with a big list of activities I could never do again. I was depressed, upset, in pain... I let it sink me down. I let it spiral me into a fairly deep depression for a little while. I was also trying to lose weight for my wedding, but I hurt all the time.

It's almost exactly 5 years later. I have pain very rarely. I have not had surgery. I will not have surgery. I lost the weight I wanted to for my wedding. A diagnosis is not always a death sentence, nor is it always right. One of the first things you should do is get a second opinion. (Like with any medical condition) Keep going to physical therapy. It will take a long time to feel liek anythign is getting better, but it is. If your pain isn't decreasing with medication, talk to your MD about trying a different combination. I found that pain killers didn't help me nearly as much as muscle relaxants. Look for a good chiropractor- they really do help with relieving some of the tension and pain. Plus, most chiropractors are very against spinal surgery, and will help you to explore every option out there. Ask your PT about exercises you can do at home. Try water exercise- really. I found that just being in the pool made me feel better on the worst days. Keep eating healthy. Find something that you can use as your coping/ calming tool. I drank tea until I could get in and out of the bathtub.

Sometimes, we life hands us a bad hand. Your back is one of those. Beating yourself up will accomplish NOTHING. Instead, use this as extra motivation for your weightloss efforts. Don't let this defeat you. It is just one more challenge that you will rise up from. You can do this, and you will not always feel this way. Just keep reminding yourself of that.
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Old 05-25-2010, 12:16 PM   #7
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I have a herniated disc in my lower lumbar region. I had one epidural shot, which did absolutely nothing. Went to PT for eight weeks. I was taking anti-inflammatories for quite awhile, which did help, but then my hair started falling out by the handful. So now I just exercise every day, use ice whenever the pain starts, and take Advil. I have no pain at all when standing so I'm lucky. I do the treadmill, the weight machines, but most important of all is swimming. It's the best exercise you can do without stressing anything, I feel like a kid again in the pool. Is there any place you could do swim?

I know it's depressing and discouraging, but don't give up! The more muscles you get and the less weight will all improve your situation. If you need to complain, I'm always here for you, cause I know people who don't go through it have a hard time listening sometimes.
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Old 05-25-2010, 03:23 PM   #8
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Thanks all you chickies for your responses! You don't know how much strength and hope it gives me!
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Old 05-25-2010, 05:53 PM   #9
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I was thinking of you while I was at the gym today, so many there have back issues. Two of my male friends have the same thing we do, and they are both totally fit looking, never been heavy, weight lifters. This type of thing can happen to anybody, it's not always something you "caused" by being overweight. When mine was first diagnosed I did a lot of research and found out that many people are walking around with herniated discs but don't know it unless they get an MRI. So you can have them and be totally painless as well.

The only time I know about mine is when I'm sitting, it hurts in the left butt cheek! I keep wondering about the thinner I get, with less padding will it hurt more?
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Old 05-25-2010, 08:11 PM   #10
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I had a disc trimmed and some bone removed in December. I have been in pain every day still. I still have a bulging disc and sciatica. The epidural shots can help. I had two shots 3 weeks ago and will probably need to have more. They have reduced the pain but not gotten rid of it. I also take painkillers in the afternoon and evening. They are not enough to wipe me out but they do take the edge off.

If walking is all you can do then walk as far as you can comfortably do. Do not over do it. You also need some exercises to strengthen your core muscles. Are they sending you to physical therapy? They should
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Old 05-25-2010, 08:17 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheena41 View Post
If walking is all you can do then walk as far as you can comfortably do. Do not over do it. You also need some exercises to strengthen your core muscles. Are they sending you to physical therapy? They should
Yep, starting back to PT on Wednesday.
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