BPS #062 Are Herniated Discs Common?

This is Robin from the Back Pain Secrets Podcast and today, we’re going to talk about herniated disc. Is a herniated disc a common thing? Does it affect many people? That’s today’s topic. But before we do that, I’m going to go off-script a bit because something happened this morning, and I just want to get your take on it, okay?

So as you might know by now, I have a family. I have my lovely wife Linda and my daughter Kelly, that is 13 and my son James, that is 10, okay? For the most part, my kids, they’re great. They’re just being kids, and sometimes they mess up and sometimes they don’t.

As a parent, you know, I’m constantly amazed how much stuff you have to learn and go through, because there’s not really a manual about how to be a dad. Obviously, I’m not hitting my kids. I don’t believe in that, but I do yell sometimes, especially before. I used to yell a lot especially when I get rounded up and I didn’t feel that I could take care of the situation. I raised my voice, okay?

But that stuff, over the years, I’ve noticed that doesn’t really help at all. So I made a decision a year back that I’m not going to yell to my kids at all. Even if they round me up and get me irritated, I’m not going to do that.

So the only really leverage now as a parent I have, is to take away their cell phone and also their like social engagements with their friends. That’s the only really leverage I have to make my kids listen to me. It’s really, really strange, but that’s the way it is.

Anyway, I was wondering if a few of you that are parents can relate to this because it’s strange, especially with my daughter. You do different stuff like you buy them clothes. You take them to summer camp, all kinds of fun things you do.

But whenever you tell them no, that you can’t do this, everything that you’ve done is more or less just forgotten altogether. They’re just focusing on the stuff, and you’re a big bastard because you’re not delivering and saying yes to the thing.

As a parent it’s very, very hard to deal with it because you want to make your kids happy, right, but at the same time, you know that you have to put boundaries in place in order for them to grow up and become good adults.

Something that my dad taught me, growing up, when I got older, he told me that your main focus in life my friend is, with your kids, is not to be their best friend. It’s to be their teacher and especially in society today, there’s so much stuff going on that parents today, they’re so afraid screwing up, myself included.

So I go back to that message all the time, when I say no, and it’s okay that they think I’m not like the best person in the world for a few hours because it’s our thing as a parent is to put boundaries in place for our kids in order for them to grow up, to be able to function in society.

If we say yes, all the time, they’re not going to grow up, and they’re going to have a less chance of growing up, and participating in society in a productive way. I don’t really know what this has to do with back pain, but it’s something that I needed to talk about because it’s a big, big thing as a parent.

This parenting stuff can definitely cause you back pain, okay? So I’m giving you all that because when you’re fighting with your family, and when you’re fighting with your kids, that causes stress in your life. That definitely can cause you back pain and sciatica and just creates all kinds of problems.

So it’s important for you parents out there to put boundaries and be comfortable with that. So that’s more or less what I’m giving you permission all you back pain sufferers out there that are parents, that it’s okay to not be your child’s best friend. It’s okay to put boundaries up and you are the leader of the pack. You have to put these boundaries up there, and if you put boundaries towards your kids and in your work life and all kinds of areas of your life, you’re going to have less back pain. That puts less stress on yourself, and you’re going to feel better. So that’s today’s tip.

Back to our story. Today’s story is, is a herniated disc a common thing? As always, I have a patient story. Way back, I treated this lady called Sandra. We can call her Sandra. She’s famous. She’s 35 years old. And in September, it was like eight months back, she started to have really a lot of pain.

She was out dancing one night. She had too many to drink, and she was dancing more or less the entire night on these high heels. When she woke up in the morning, she had a burning sensation in her back, in her right buttock that went down on her leg.

That was her herniated disc. She didn’t know that at that time, but I’m going to come to that. So internally, she was really depressed. She felt like she was 35 years old, and she was actually trying to have kids. So that was a big, big thing she thought about for a long time, is this thing with my back can prevent me to have kids in the future because she was hitting 35. She had a few years left there. So that was a big stress for her.

Also the people around her, they were suffering from other conditions like they had bad knees, bad elbows. Someone had pain in her neck, but no one in her family or friends had a herniated disc or a bad back in that sense that she had.

She was really feeling alone and didn’t really feel confident that she could share her feelings with other people in the same situation. So that was something she was struggling with quite a bit. So eventually, the pain just increased, increased.

She went to have an MRI. This is this machine that they put you in. They shove you in. They take you out, and you can actually see if the disc is herniated or if you have other problems with your back. When she got the results, the MRI showed that she had the herniated disc, a specific level on L4-L5. That’s a very common level to have it in your lower back.

She had to visit with an orthopedic surgeon that told her you know, it’s a small herniated disc and that’s actually more complicated to operate than a big one, big herniated disc. That made no sense whatsoever to Sandra. She was very confused around this, and the doctor, the orthopedic surgeon told her, we’re not going to operate you. You’re too young and you’re not in enough pain to operate. You don’t have any other symptoms.

She was a bit bummed out by that but she accepted that. She had visited physios, chiropractors, osteopaths and they’ve all given her different exercise and stuff but nothing was really working for her. It helped a bit but not really.

So she understood that she wasn’t going to have some magic operation, and these exercises that she was getting, they weren’t really giving the results that she hoped for. She understood that if she’s going to like — she had like a kind of epiphany.

One afternoon when she was sitting home drinking tea, she said, you know, no one is really going to come and save me here. If I’m going to get rid of this back pain, my sciatica and my herniated disc, and I’m going to be able to build up my body to be strong enough to have kids and have a productive life, I’ve got to take charge of this.

The stuff, she’s been listening to my podcasts for a few episodes, and it’s a recurring theme that she needed to walk. She had done a bit of walking but she didn’t really do it seriously. She did it like once or twice a week, but now she said, I’m going to do this walking stuff.

She actually had done like some motivational stuff way back, and she created kind of a mantra for herself like that she was going to say. Every morning, she went out for this 40-minute walk and on this walk, for the entire 40 minutes, she told her — she was repeating this phrase over and over again.

I’ve got to walk away the pain. I’m going to walk away the pain. I’m going to walk away the pain. I’m going to walk away the pain. For the entire 40 minutes, when she was out walking every morning, for six months, she was repeating this phrase. I’m going to walk away the pain. I’m going to walk away the pain, okay.

This might sound really childish and juvenile and just crazy to do it, right, but it was working for her. It was definitely working for her. So the conflict she was in between here now, for the first ten days, it was sh**, right?

When she started to walk, she actually had more pain like just to get up, put on her shoes, and go out was horrible for the first ten days. But after the tenth day, she started to feel some improvement, especially the mental stuff. She started to feel less depressed, much less depressed. She actually wanted to call up a few of her friends.

She went out to have coffee. She had a glass of wine. She went to a few movies. She actually went out with a date that she hadn’t done for a long time with her boyfriend. She understood that stuff was happening. She started to want to eat better, cut away the junk food.

She actually deleted her account on Netflix altogether, and she forced herself just to watch one hour of TV each day and then out, walk, and try to socialize more. This stuff was really working for her.

The transformation Sandra went through was quite important because halfway through, first off, she had her herniated disc. She felt sure sorry for herself for the first four months, mostly due because she was confused. She felt afraid and she didn’t really know what to do.

Then after four months, when she understood the diagnosis she’d had and she tried to do the stuff that like the physios and people were telling her to do, but not really give it a hundred percent, she understood that if she’s going to beat this herniated disc stuff, she needed to take charge herself.

She could take influence and listen to the people that were giving her advice, but at the end of the day, you have to take care of your own sh**. That’s really today’s lesson and today’s message to you guys. This could be with back pain, your kids, your relationship, or whatever, your work, whatever you’re into.

You can always blame people, circumstances, all kinds of crap, but at the end of the day when you’re sitting down, you have to own your own sh**. If you’re not doing good with your back, it’s your own fault.

If you’re not delivering results with your kids, it’s your own fault. You need to step up. If you’re not delivering a good relationship, if your relationship is in bad shape, you can obviously sit and point your finger to your partner.

At the end of the day you can do other stuff. You need to own your own sh**. If your work is not bringing in the money or that you need to do, it’s your own fault. You need to step up and get your sh** done.

I’m telling you this out of love because there are so many people around the world. I meet a lot of patients and I meet a lot of people in business as well, and they’re always pointing fingers at other people. That’s the reason why I didn’t succeed. That’s the reason why I’m in pain. That’s the way I… that’s the reason why I’m not making enough money.

Whenever I hear people giving excuses like that, I know what’s the problem. It’s themselves. I’ve done that myself before, before I started to understand how the world works. You really have to sit down, own your own sh**, and get the job done.

It won’t be easy all the time, but that’s part of it. If you want to succeed at anything, most things are hard to succeed at. You need to just sit down and figure out a way to do it, and if that doesn’t work, you try something else. If that doesn’t work you try something else.

Okay, guys. This was a long one and a bit of a rant. I’m all over the place, but I really felt I needed to get this off my chest, and there are a few lessons in this episode.

So if you didn’t catch all of it, listen and if you think that this episode might benefit someone in your life that has back pain or is a bit of a slacker, just send it to them. Share it with them.

Take care. I love you, and guys remember, you’re just one step away from healing your back pain. Bye-bye.

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Robin BackPainExpert

Physiotherapists & Back Pain Expert

Twenty years ago I was lucky to survive a serious hockey injury. In a sport where big men zoomaround on hard ice and solid wood sticks are slung furiously, a difficult back injury is what every player fears.
It took a long time for me to climb back to a normal life. But when I did, I was determined to spend the rest of his life helping back pain victims everywhere.
As a physiotherapist and back pain expert I have treated thousands of patients over 20 years, built a respected back pain clinic, created the site BackPainSecrets.Com and authored the book “Back Pain Secrets.”
Learn more about me here.