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skiing with slipped discs?

post #1 of 26
The first thing to do is question your doctor to find out what he really means. Does he mean "don't ski until you get your injury under contol with physical therapy," or "don't ski if you want to avoid surgery or permanent injury"?
The other thing to do is to get the advice of a doctor who skis and is familiar with atheltic injuries. Some doctors have the idea that skiing is far more strenuous or dangerous than it actually is, while other doctors are so lawsuit-risk-averse that they will always tell you to stop any activity.

Good luck with your recovery.

John

[ July 05, 2003, 10:44 AM: Message edited by: John Dowling ]
post #2 of 26
John has given you good advice. It is advisable, if possible, to find a physican who actually skis. If you do continue you may have to be a tad more conservative, such as avoiding bumps and trees. We are also finding a high incidence of herniated discs in teenage racers.

Now here's the good news. You are in Australia, home of THE authority on research regarding the transverse abdominal muscle and back care PAUL HODGES!! Do a search, and find out what physios use his methodology.

Things may not be too bad. After all, a US 2004 presidential candidate got a military defferral for having a fused vertabra, then went on to ski 80 days in the bumps at Aspen!
post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 

skiing with slipped discs?

Hi I've recently been diagnosed with 2 slipped discs, and have been told not to ski. I'm only 22 and although i've been skiing since I was 3 I felt like I had 40 odd years left in me.

My question is has any one got a similar problem that continues to ski? or any advice how to recover quicker?

I'll be devestated if I can't ever ski again cause thats all I live for!
post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 
thanks for the info guys I'll look in to it!
post #5 of 26
About 8-9 years ago (when I was 23-24) I herniated my L4-5 to a point where it was crushing 30% of my CNS making it difficult to get messages down my left leg. I kept skiing but ended up in ski patrol on morphine more than once. Sometimes I couldn't even turn my left ski as the nerves were being so crushed so I would lie down on the run for a bit. Landing a jump was just excruciating. By the end of the day I would barely be able to walk.

I don't recommend any of the above.

In the end to avoid surgery I sought out a range of alternative therapies. After 5 months of a mixture of Kinesiology, Reiki and a few other things I had no pain at all. I then became a ski instructor and spent 6 seasons in the snow.

I still take care of my back though by sitting on a fitness ball at work and using a rolled up towel behind my back when driving to the snow. And of course always lifting carefully. This day to day management is important.

So, no you don't have to give up skiing forever but yes get it fixed first. Consider some alternative therapies in conjunction with your physiotherapy treatment. Think positvely and it will eventually come good.

Good Luck!
post #6 of 26
About 8-9 years ago (when I was 23-24) I herniated my L4-5 to a point where it was crushing 30% of my CNS making it difficult to get messages down my left leg. I kept skiing but ended up in ski patrol on morphine more than once. Sometimes I couldn't even turn my left ski as the nerves were being so crushed so I would lie down on the run for a bit. Landing a jump was just excruciating. By the end of the day I would barely be able to walk.

I don't recommend any of the above.

In the end to avoid surgery I sought out a range of alternative therapies. After 5 months of a mixture of Kinesiology, Reiki and a few other things I had no pain at all. I then became a ski instructor and spent 6 seasons in the snow.

I still take care of my back though by sitting on a fitness ball at work and using a rolled up towel behind my back when driving to the snow. And of course always lifting carefully. This day to day management is important.

So, no you don't have to give up skiing forever but yes get it fixed first. Consider some alternative therapies in conjunction with your physiotherapy treatment. Think positvely and it will eventually come good.

Good Luck!
post #7 of 26
Inspiring story, Bec! As I said before, The Aussies are really cutting edge in their Physiotherapy research. Take advantage of it!
post #8 of 26
Also, get a real diagnosis. "Slipped disk" is not an understandable diagnosis. The problem is it could mean something as nominal as inflamation from a musclar or ligamentous injury pressing on the nerve root (this will likely self heal in a few months) or more serious like a herniated or bulged disk or a free discal fragment pressing on the nerve root or as serious as interior spinal herniation at the cervical level resulting in distal pedal or leg symptoms (this requires IMMEDIATE surgery).

Again, you should go to an orthopedic specialist who works extensively with athletes. Consider Physical Therapy, and also consider corticoid steroids. They have been known to work at reducing the problem without surgery. Be very wary of spinal fusion of the lumbar spine. It is not particularily successfull and it will limit your range of motion. Fusion is a last resort for those in great pain.

Mark
post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
Mark this is what the report said.

" the L3/4 is normal in appearance

At L4/5 there is a large disc lesion posteriorly and to the right compressing the thecal sac and producing appreciable compression of the proximal right L5 nerve root sleeve.

The disc lesion is about 7-8mm in cross-section with some 30% reduction in the cross-sectional diameter of the thecal sac at this level

At L5/S1 there is a large lesion posteriorly and to the left about the same size as the one above. Again as a result there is compressionof the thecal sac and the proximal left S1 nerve root sleeve. "

I have been doing physio twice a week, and stretching 3 times a day which seems to be helping, i'm also on anti-inflams (VIOXX) and have had one cortis injection with another this wednesday and possibly one more a month from now.

Craig.

[ July 06, 2003, 09:23 PM: Message edited by: FLI355 ]
post #10 of 26
Thread Starter 
Bec check your PMs [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #11 of 26
Ohh yeah...I herniated L4/5 about 2 months ago. MRI shows a sizeable disc protrusion which is "compromising the L5 nerve root". I have the typical neural symtoms including parasthesia (now mostly gone) and muscle weakness causing foot drop in left foot (not gone, but somewhat improved). At first I could hardly balance on my left leg, that's a lot better now.

I'm 44, have been skiiing for 25 years, and felt like I had, well, at least a couple of years left in me I asked the neurosurgeon (who didn't wan't to operate) whether I had to give up skiing, mountain biking, kayaking etc. His attitude was "well, you'll possibly do another disc one day, but it's just as likely to be while bending over to pick up the soap in the shower, meantime you might as well get out there and enjoy yourself". So I plan to try skiing, maybe in a month or so, and see how it goes.

Meantime I'm having a clinical pilates session once a week, which is great, doing various core strength exercises at home, and doing lots of walking and swimming to keep fit. Biking stirs it up so have stopped that, sex doesn't so have continued that

So, to answer your questions:
1) While I haven't yet "continued to ski" I certainly plan to and all the research I've done indicates it should be OK, eventually. I have 2 friends who've herniated discs and both ski fine now. I think it will be a question of "how soon" rather than "if ever". I might give the cliff dropping a miss though. I'll let you know how it goes.

2) How to recover quicker - these days surgery seems to be out of favour except in really bad cases, although the people I know who've had it have had great and immediate results. Otherwise you seem to be doing about all you can. I can recommend both the Vioxx and the physio (check out clinical pilates if you can, its good for your skiing too), be careful your physio doesn't get too carried away and stir up the nerve though. I didn't have the steroids but the literature does seem to indicate they may help in the early stages.

Check out these for some encouraging news:
Spontaneous resolution of Ruptured Lumbar Disc
Nonoperative Treatment of Lumbar Radiculopathy

Good luck, let us know how it goes.
Graeme
post #12 of 26
I go for an MRI tonight to assess problems at L4 -L5 as well. My first back problems were at age 22 (long ago). The doctor I saw then gave me about as helpful a diagnosis as yours. I have had sporadic back problems since and know what I have to do to keep them at bay. (Core strengthening and stretching). I get in trouble when things feel good and I get lazy. This MRI relates to an ugly episode in January involving consectutive hard days followed by a Slalom ski incident. I was off skis for 4 weeks and badly twisted up. I also have had bulging and neurological affects resulting in loss of muscle control in my calf. Bottom line is I'm still well over 20 years of 100 days+ skiing a season.

My doctor has always understood that telling me not to ski wasn't an option but telling me what to do to keep skiing was. Of late I've had good luck with a chiropractor who is also an athletic trainer and takes a real physio and strenghtening approach. I also do a lot a biking which isn't itself a problem but lack of stretching and muscle inbalance can become the problem. Sunday I had a 90km time trial in screaming wind, cold and rain. A couple of hours down on aero bars grinding into the wind. Oddly my back is cranky today and I'm doing my execises just in time for the MRI that was scheduled months ago.

A cranky back is not great but if you have a doctor simply telling you not to ski then I think you need a new doctor/physio/trainer/chiro who will tell you what to do to keep skiing. Seems to be a pretty common theme in all of these replies.
post #13 of 26
I promised an update so here it is...went skiing for the first time since damaging my disc yesterday at Broken River, a local club field. A ski day there starts with a 30min hike to the field (a goods lift carries your stuff most of the way). The skiing is mostly ungroomed, lifts are nutcracker rope tows, all in all a reasonably good test for the back.

Well the good news is that it was fine. Getting a ski boot on with a weak foot is a bit of a challenge though! I took it fairly easy to start with, but in the afternoon had a few easy runs through the bumps and a powder run in Alain's Basin. All good. No pain or other symtoms during the day, and at the end of the day my back actually felt better than it had in the morning.

A few tingles in my toes last night, so I guess there's still some disc material floating around the nerve root. I was worried I might wake up in the night with my back on fire, which is what happened when I tried mountain biking a few weeks ago. But it was fine. This morning my big toe is a little numb, this has happened before when I've been a bit active - I now know it will go away in a day or so when the nerve settles down again.

So Craig, I reckon you'll be getting out there again mate. Just don't rush into it too soon eh?

grum.
post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 
Sounds good Graeme,

I had another injection last week, combined with the physio/acupuncture I'ver been having I'm feelin much better, not much pain now at all, I'm so tempted to hit the slopes next weekend!

I think I'll just keep having treatment tilm kid August and see how i'm going then.

Craig
post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by FLI355:
Mark this is what the report said.

" the L3/4 is normal in appearance

At L4/5 there is a large disc lesion posteriorly and to the right compressing the thecal sac and producing appreciable compression of the proximal right L5 nerve root sleeve.

The disc lesion is about 7-8mm in cross-section with some 30% reduction in the cross-sectional diameter of the thecal sac at this level

At L5/S1 there is a large lesion posteriorly and to the left about the same size as the one above. Again as a result there is compressionof the thecal sac and the proximal left S1 nerve root sleeve. "

I have been doing physio twice a week, and stretching 3 times a day which seems to be helping, i'm also on anti-inflams (VIOXX) and have had one cortis injection with another this wednesday and possibly one more a month from now.

Craig.
Craig, thanks, that clarifies the issue greatly. You do have two significant lesions. I would discuss the issue of skiing with your Doc before making any moves. It sounds to me like you are on a good therapy of PT and meds and on the road to recovery. Do the exercises religiously.

Oh, as for the meds, if the VIOXX is as expensive there as it is here you might what to talk to your Doc about over-the-counter NSAIDS. Talk to your Doc about this.

Best of luck and keep us informed.

Mark
post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 
The VIOXX is cheap 23.10 for a month worth (30 tablets). I will definately speak to the doc next time I see him.
post #17 of 26
I have had back problems since age 20....now I'm 35. The pain became too unbearable back in January. I missed many days of work because I could not walk. Was finally diagnosed with herniation of L4 and L5. I had been to the chiropractor many times...and now I do not trust them anymore. Once the chiropractor found out I had a herniated disc...he quit "adjusting" my lower back (which he had been adjusting for over a year)...but that's a different topic altogether.

I was led to a Neurosurgeon here in Louisville, KY. He works on many pro athletes and local college talent. I had back surgery in late May. I missed three weeks of work....went through a month of PT....and am now working with a Personal Trainer at my local health club. I am now lifting weights...stretching...doing lots of cardio..swimming...and I have never been happier or felt better in my whole life. I would not hesitate to have this surgery again.

I do not mean to give such a blanket statement on surgery...but I had a wonderful doctor who I trusted and he did a wonderful job. I plan on playing golf again by the end of August...and plan on doing LOTS of skiing this Winter.

I do not mean to encourage anyone to have surgery...but I think sometimes it can be a good thing.
post #18 of 26
Thread Starter 
what was the actual procedure you had done?

did they just cut some of the disc off or did you have a removal of the disc/vertebrae fusion?
post #19 of 26
The doctor went into my back in two places and basically "cleaned" out the material that was protruding from between my discs. He compared the herniation to taking a jelly donut and squeezing it...the jelly would come out the side (and of course in the spine, it would push up against nerves).

He went in and cleaned out the protrusion, taking the pressure off the nerve. The operation took about an hour. I went home that evening....even walked up my steps to the bedroom (very slowly though). I had to sleep on my back for almost a week (which is very hard to do for me...so I cheated a lot). Movement was very slow at first....getting out of bed took several minutes. I had to get up and walk for about five minutes three times a day the first week. Then I walked for 15 minutes three times a day the second week. By the third week, I was walking 30 minutes, three times a day and feeling really normal. I went back to work doing half days my fourth week.

Like I said earlier, now I am using a personal trainer...doing weights, nautilus equipment...even ran my first mile last week. I feel better right now than I have in years.

But again, surgery might not be for everyone.

Has your back gotten any better?
post #20 of 26
Thread Starter 
Had my 3rd steroid injection yesterday, I was almost pain free before this so hopefully this will kick me over the edge.

My physio said to stop going as I'm so much better (loosened up, stronger and much straighter)

I start pilates next week for a 10 week block.

I'm going to try to hit the slopes in 2 weeks, just taking it easy to see how I go.
post #21 of 26
That's awesome Fli. Glad to hear you are getting back on track. I hope the skiing goes well for you. Where are you off to? Remember...NO JUMPS! The air's fine, it's just the landing that's the problem.
post #22 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks Bec,

Yeah i'll be taking it easy just going to ski fast doing big turns, stay away from short turns (unless i'm feeling really good) and NO JUMPS!!!! [img]smile.gif[/img]

Going to hop down to perisher midweek probably 25th and 26th of Aug with a few of the guys, thats if I can get a commitment from them and hopefully get some accomodation.

see how things go.

[ August 15, 2003, 08:03 PM: Message edited by: FLI355 ]
post #23 of 26
Thread Starter 
Well I didnt get down there the other week, but i'm booked in tonight in Jindy and will be skiing perisher tomorrow, hopefully all goes well and I dont do myself any damage.

Wish me luck [img]smile.gif[/img]

Craig.
post #24 of 26
Wow, so many just like me! I ruptured L5 and L4 in my early 20s too, playing hockey didn't help. The last CAT scan showed osteo-arthritis had set in by the time it was properly diagnosed.

I was treated by a sports doctor, and tried everything, had a lot of physio. In the end, the doctor was looking at a spinal fusion. Luckily, my physio changed to one of my hockey teamates, and she quietly changed my treatment (traction lying on my back rather than front, for instance). She also gave me a horrible gym programme to do: a 1.5 hour heavy weights workout for all muscles, but co-contracting my abs while doing them. It was hard.

and cured my back, and bought me quite a few extra years of hockey. I don't need back-rolls for sleeping and driving any more. My original doctor also said no more skiing...now I'm a year-round instructor. The discs sometimes touch the sciatic nerve if I do a lot of housework, or other little things aggravate it, but now I have various fixes, including rolling around on my back and then doing side crunches, and lying with a tennis ball on certain nerve pressure points to release the muscle spasms. I'm in control!
post #25 of 26
I just thought of something. Since most of you folks are Aussies, go to http://www.ptonthenet.com

The owners of this personal training company are 2 of the greatest guys you could meet! They started this online education company from a small Australian beach town, and build it into one of the few highly successful internet businesses. They did this by being nice to people.

Drop them an email, and ask if they can refer you to any trainers that specialize in slipped discs. Tell them Lisa from Boston sent ya!
post #26 of 26
Thread Starter 
I'm back!!!!

Skied all day today snow was really nice, started the day just skiing fast doing large radius turns which felt good so as the day went I started to push a little harder and do some short turns, those felt pretty good too. I wasnt in any pain all day while actually skiing

I'm a little sore now but that probably also from just having driven 4 and a half hours, i'll see how I pull up tomorrow.
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