Starting a year ago I injured my back by lifting a shelf; since then I have repeatedly been told that I have a herniated disc.

by Jenelle



I am a healthy 18 year old with a so called herniated disc. To start from the beginning I injured my back by lifting a shelf by myself resulting in lower right back pain. This original pain was only taken away by laying flat on my back on a level surface. I had avoided going to physio or a chiropractor because the pain slowly got to the point where it was bearable.

Fast forwarding about six months, with my back switching from bearable to not-so bearable, I did something while cross country skiing. During this I didn't fall, didn't do anything out of the ordinary just a normal outing.

Initially, after that ski I could feel my back feeling terrible leading me to not being able to move about the next morning. I went from being able to move just fine to not being able to bend over in just one night; it felt as tho I was 90 years old, unable to even stand up straight.

At this point I knew something was seriously wrong and went for treatment at physio. At the same time I was unable to stand up straight; terrible pain was radiating down the back of my right leg ending in the outside of my calf.

The calf pain feels as though someone is repeatedly stabbing me and never stops. Walking, moving or lifting my leg in the air like I'm stretching my hamstring increase the pain.

Hip, knee and lower right back pain is also felt but nothing compared to the calf; during physio I was treated for eight weeks, three of those weeks I receive acupuncture releasing the pain in my hip and back, but never reducing the calf and pain behind the knee.

Once being release from physio (a month ago) I still had pain in my calf but my back mobility was perfect with little pain.

After being released from physio I felt some-what back till normal, until one morning about three week ago where the stiffness and unbearable pain in my back started again. I phoned a chiropractor and have been receiving treatment since. All tests preformed with results being positive and negative. The slump test was able to easily recreate the leg pain I feel. My reflexes are fine, except for behind the right knee, being non existent whereas the left side it was perfectly responsive. A reflex test pushing up on my feet also presented itself weird because my foot stayed in the upwards position for a few seconds afterwards instead of relaxing like the other side. My mobility side to side is okay as well as front to back.

I have now received three treatments and little positive change in my back has been made where as none as been made in my calf and leg pain. I was prescribed an SI belt which has been able to reduced my back pain to essential nothing and leg pain down to about a 5 (normally being around an 8); I am looking for any insight on how I can reduce my leg pain without having to wear a belt all the time and am able to walk without being in pain.

Hello Jenelle,
The most disturbing part of your narrative is that there is no mention of any lower back exercises; that is absolutely vital to help prevent future episodes.

The loss of what I presume is the medial hamstring reflex is an ominous sign; note well whether you can lift the big toe. You almost certainly have a large herniation of the disc, probably at the L4/L5 level, though not necessarily.

Did you go into what's known as the antalgic posture?

For the next two months you must not bend and lift; go down on one knee if you need to pick up your toothbrush. Try not to cough or sneeze, and generally sit much less.

It seems that the chiropractic treatment is helping, but you have a long way to go. In particularly watch out for the fifty percent less pain stage; that's when relapses frequently occur.

You've had a serious injury, Jenelle. Patience and a real commitment to being careful and the exercises is vital for that disc to heal. Your chiropractor will advise you.

I don't believe in rushing off to the chiropractor, doctor and physio for every little pain, but clearly right in the beginning you needed professional advice and help.

Good luck, I hope it works out well for you.

Dr B

50 percent less pain » Starting a year ago I injured my back by lifting a shelf; since then I have repeatedly been told that I have a herniated disc.

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

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