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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug. 21, 2007
    Location
    Gerrardstown, WV
    Posts
    238

    Unhappy Who rides with a Herniated Disc? UPDATE POST #33

    Had an MRI done this week and the results show a herniation in one of my discs that is pressing on one of my nerves. Not bad enough for surgery, although I am being referred for possible steroid injections. I can handle the pain, the hardest thing to swallow is my very firm instructions not to ride for 8-12 weeks at a minimum. I was told if I ride I risk a rupture or the possible need for surgery.

    Any suggestions or similar experience with this would be helpful
    Last edited by Private Diamonds; Jan. 27, 2009 at 07:03 PM.
    COURAGE is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway. ~John Wayne

    http://www.chronicleofmyhorse.com/pr...rivateDiamonds



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar. 13, 2000
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    1,834

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    I do! I do! Did you know that 70% of Americans have herniated discs, and probably most of the riders out there do, too? You are in the majority!

    The pain can take awhile to settle down, as in several weeks, which can be discouraging and boring. REST is essential. DO it. DO everything your doctor tells you. Use ice; use heat; use massage around (but not so much on top of the injury site) the injured disc, b/c MUCH of the pain comes from spasmed muscles. You can release them yourself. Take a full amount of rest, strengthen your core and upper leg muscles, catch up with friends, and practise holding that core while doing any and all movements.

    Core strength and doing any lifting (regardless of weight), tossing (hay, blankets), etc. activities should be done with really tightened core muscles to keep the spine from taking the impact of such movements; in the meantime, you can work with a good chiro or your pT person who can review good body mechanics so you can arrest any further damage when you go back to your normal life. WHICH YOU WILL DO. Rest so taht the disc and nerves and the surrounding tissue can return to normal without risking any flareups. It will be worth it. Guaranteed.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec. 11, 2007
    Posts
    643

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    I rode for years with a herniated c5-6 disc...not to mention continued with cleaning stalls,moving hay,etc,etc of farm life. Over the years I was told the same as you, not bad enough for surgery, per several MRI results,so I just basically lived with the pain.I was miserable to say the least! I did injections,NSAID'S, rest...nothing really helped.Then one day at a horse show my arm started moving uncontroallably on its own..it was freaky!I went to the Dr. the next day, more MRI scans, and although the scans still showed not much damage, the Dr after seeing my arm move by itself, decieded to send me to a surgeon.They preformed a discectomy and bone fusion with a titanium plate.Surgeon told me after the surgery that the damage was much more intense than the MRI indicated, and he didn't know how I had gone as long as I did with the pain.The surgery was the best thing I ever did.It was instant pain relief!!and although I still ride, I am not able to do the level I was at before, I do not lift anything over 20 lbs by myself, and I'm very cautious about what horses I get on, to minimize the risk of a fall.Apparantly surgery can weaken discs above and below the one they fixed causing the same problem, which is why they put off surgery as long as they can.Stay vigilant with the doctors and don't underestimate your pain level to them, be good to yourself, and find others to help you with the heavy stuff, and keep riding in some fashion.If you're like me I'd rather be dead than with no horse to ride!



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun. 17, 2002
    Location
    Go Bucks!
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    3,634

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    Quote Originally Posted by Private Diamonds View Post
    Had an MRI done this week and the results show a herniation in one of my discs that is pressing on one of my nerves. Not bad enough for surgery, although I am being referred for possible steroid injections. I can handle the pain, the hardest thing to swallow is my very firm instructions not to ride for 8-12 weeks at a minimum. I was told if I ride I risk a rupture or the possible need for surgery.

    Any suggestions or similar experience with this would be helpful
    Oh, I'm sooooo sorry. There are few things more painful. I've suffered from multiple herniated disks over the years due to a bad back injury sustained when I was 19. Against the will of my doctor, I never took more than two weeks off from riding and that was only because I could barely move.

    The last bout was 2005 (two disks). I went through 12 weeks of intense physical therapy and traction (3-4 days a week) and it took those full three months to really see much progress. I was able to hack my horse by week two and was showing again within a month. Not pain free, but it was tolerable. I did move down to 2'6"-2'9" because the larger fences really bothered it.

    The one thing I will advise you is to be very careful. I have a bomp proof, older horse that wouldn't even think to buck, let alone stop at a fence unless there was a huge problem. While all riding is risky, if you are going to ride, stick to the safer, easier horses. I wouldn't be getting on any greenies that will jerk you or worse dump you!

    Several years later, I feel pretty good. I have a flare up now and then, but as long as I nip it in the bud, I'm typically okay. I am diligent about my exercises and just being careful about what I do. I gave up water and snow skiing, and I no longer get on the young, super green horses. But, I'm enjoying my riding pain free. Good luck!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar. 30, 2008
    Posts
    53

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    I have one between C4 and C5, I took about 2 months off of riding when it got too painful. In the meantime, I did other forms of exercise to try and straighten myself out (I had always had a twist in my upper body, and hunched with my shoulders due to the pain). I did yoga, swimming and cardio. When I started riding, the pain was significantly reduced, and I was no longer hunching! I think it really helps to do other forms of exercise to keep your core strong.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug. 11, 2008
    Location
    Northeast PA
    Posts
    1,470

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    I do - L5 - S1 herniation, centrally. Not bad enough for surgery, but did do a set of 3 steriod injections that helped.

    My advice - don't do anything stupid, if you can help it. For me, that was asking hubby or friends to lift stuff, and NO SITTING TROT!! That was huge for me - now that I'm a bit better I can sit for short periods, but not like before.

    I still will screw it up (like I did the day before yesterday) but I go see my chiro right away and he can usually fix me up before it gets really bad. That's another consideration for you - a GOOD chiro.

    Best of luck!



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct. 15, 2007
    Posts
    106

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    Yes! I have three herniated discs...I'm actually on bedrest at the moment...yuck! I've had this injury for almost 10 years but I'm just now at the point of making some serious riding decisions. Unfortunately, I think it is time to either retire my jumper gelding or let someone else ride him and get a very calm ammy hunter. I've lived with the chronic pain for a long time but it's almost unbearable now.

    The things I've found that help the most are doing a lot of stretching before riding and laying on an ice pack for 30 minutes after I ride. If I am good about these two things- I am usually okay. Who knows what I did this time! Good luck!

    Oh- and follow the doctor's orders...the time off will pass soon enough!



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb. 24, 1999
    Location
    MD
    Posts
    3,485

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    Quote Originally Posted by Personal Champ View Post
    I do - L5 - S1 herniation, centrally. Not bad enough for surgery, but did do a set of 3 steriod injections that helped.
    That's where I have a herniated disk as well. It happened in a fall when I was 15.
    I had a lot of chiro work done after the accident, which helped quite a bit. Riding in the begining was horrible (hell, I couldn't even tie my own shoes so riding was just a leetle painful). I couldn't sit trot or ride anything too bouncy for a long time. I actually sold my children's hunter in favor of a couch-like large pony because the horse was too much of a big mover for me to deal with at the time.

    Four years later I had a steroid injection and that was a huge huge help. It eliminated most of my daily pain.

    It's been 12+ years and I'm pretty fine. I won't say I never have pain when I ride (trotting in two-point hurts after once around the ring), but completely tollerable. I am careful about what I ride, I don't play around with buckers or anything like that because my back can't take it. I keep a stock of good anti-inflamatories, just in case, but I function fine now.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 19, 2000
    Location
    Ellijay, GA
    Posts
    6,040

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    Yep! I have a herniated L4/5. I fell about 2.5 years ago and fractured my T12 as well.

    Honestly, it doesnt bother me at all when riding.

    If I ride for a long period of time, OR do a lot of two-point work my left foot will go numb and tingly from the pressure, but thats generally it. My T12 fracture does bother me on occasion when riding though.

    I find that when I am not riding, or have not riden in a while I feel more discomfort. I think the motion and the physical strength you get from riding keeps things moving and loose.

    Everynow and then I will get a SHARP shooting pain down my left leg from the herniation or up the left side of my back and shoulder from the fracture. But, it only last a split second and once I feel like I can breathe againI'm on my merry way.

    Overall, it is NOT enough to keep me from riding. Now, the emotional and mental scars that are left after that fall can and have kept me from riding or doing things I once was confident at.
    Busy Bee Farm, Ellijay, GA
    Never Ride Faster Than Your Guardian Angel Can Fly
    Way Back Texas~04/20/90-09/17/08
    Green Alligator "Captain"



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul. 10, 2008
    Posts
    1,939

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    oh i'm in this club too!

    i'm with relocatedTXjumpr, though, my disc does not bother me at all when riding. what DOES bother it is prolonged sitting, and lifting heavy things improperly will put me in excruciating pain the next day.

    i went through 6 weeks of PT 3x/week when it was first diagnosed, and have since continued an ab/core strengthening routine several times a week. this has made a HUGE difference for me. i let my brothers and boyfriend lift things for me, and try to avoid a lot of sitting trot, running; anything that might jar or compress my spine. correct posture also makes a big difference when i have to sit (like every day at work!). since going through PT and having to constantly sit up straight, i have recieved numerous compliments on my excellent posture.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul. 10, 2008
    Posts
    1,939

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    you know, there are a lot of COTH'ers with back issues.

    who wants to form an "I Have Horrifically Painful Back Problems" clique?!



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar. 1, 2007
    Posts
    592

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    I do in my neck and do pilates to work the disks apart. It has helped



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun. 20, 2006
    Posts
    524

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    I herniated L4/L5 about 10 years ago and it took nine months before I could ride again.
    I've heard the steroid injections work very well, my husband had it done and he was back to normal in a few weeks.
    Feel better, having back pain is no picnic!



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan. 29, 2000
    Location
    SE WI- Midwest
    Posts
    3,505

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    I am still recovering from an L4/L5 with really bad sciatica compression. I have had one injection so far, and am hopeful to return to a normal life someday.
    My problems started end of July, and I was off work all of August, September and part of October.
    I am glad to read the accounts that people have come back from this to ride, it gives me some hope.

    I am working with at PT, but need to get more dedicated to doing the exercises, and hopefully learn more down the road, when I can handle them.

    Thanks OP for posting this.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan. 7, 2004
    Location
    Perkasie, PA
    Posts
    215

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    I rode right through my herniated disc. I highly recommend at least a little bit of rest. I was right back at work the next day. I am a professional and got hurt my first day at a new job and was afraid to tell my boss that my doctor wanted me to have 6 weeks off. I was on muscle relaxers, but still in a great deal of pain. I had to have the kids put my half chalps on for me since I couldn't bend over. That was 7 1/2 years ago and my back hurts every day...not to that extent. I wonder what it would feel like now if I had actually listened to the doctor?



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug. 11, 2008
    Location
    Northeast PA
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    1,470

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    Quote Originally Posted by Indy View Post
    It's been 12+ years and I'm pretty fine. I won't say I never have pain when I ride (trotting in two-point hurts after once around the ring), but completely tollerable. I am careful about what I ride, I don't play around with buckers or anything like that because my back can't take it. I keep a stock of good anti-inflamatories, just in case, but I function fine now.
    Right - and another thought - my chiro (a very active sort himself who broke his back in a car accident) ENCOURAGED me to ride a NICE animal - not the crazy ones I usually get, because he feels that the motion is good for the back. It loosens muscles and is good for our mental well being.

    So, while listening to doctors is good, using common sense is sometimes better. JMHO.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov. 26, 2003
    Location
    NE FL
    Posts
    6,494

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    I have 3. I sucked it up and rode with excruciating pain for almost 20 years until about 4 months ago. they told me I needed to have my spine fused,no riding etc etc. I said NOT.

    A good chiro a few months ago saw me 3x a week for about two months and finally straightened me out. And I got flexible stirrups and a Thinline pad. That made all the difference in the world. I still have to be careful not to ovedo, and to take care of my back, but now I can actually get out of bed without taking a fistful of aleve, which is a nice change.
    "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin



  18. #18
    Join Date
    May. 4, 2008
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    1,332

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    Pilates..it's good for your core muscles.

    Lay off the heat if you can...loosens the muscles temporarily but can cause worse spasms when it wears off. Ice is your friend. 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off.

    I've got multiple on the L/S line, been living with it for 10+ years now. 3 series of steriod injections. Again, not 'bad enough' for surgery. Tried different muscle relaxers and pain killers. I'm living somewhat comfortably now on Ultram 3-4x a day. Been on that for almost 7 years now.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec. 7, 2008
    Posts
    50

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    Just wondering if anyone has tried spinal decompression??



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr. 27, 2008
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    2,596

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    Many years ago, a doctor told me I had to give up riding. Since I didn't have a horse then (but took lessons), I did. I took an entire year off riding. It didn't make a bit of difference, except that I was miserable.

    My back sometimes hurts too bad to ride, but it doesn't hurt as bad as not riding did.

    Beautiful Dreamer, I've done spinal decompression. I don't know what to say. Everything seems to help a little, short term. The spinal decompression actually hurt A LOT. But it did seem to give me a few good days. Maybe even a few good weeks. But the bottom line is -- my back has hurt for 21 years now, and it still does.

    I'm actually hoping to get back surgery this year.

    ETA: I actually think sitting the jog, and swinging my back with the movement is as good for my back as anything. My horse has a sweet little jog, and it feels wonderful when my back is stiff. Posting, on the other hand, I can hardly do. It kills me. Everybody is different.



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