BPS #063 What causes Recurrent Disc Herniation?

This is Robin from the Back Pain Secrets Podcast and today, we’re going to talk about what is a recurring disk herniation guys? I hope that you guys enjoy the back here. I got some new background. The wife as you know, if you’ve watched a few of the other episodes, I had some really bad stuff in the back. The wife told me, no you can’t have old underwear hanging up, old t-shirts. You look like a slob.

What I did, I got this cool poster, basically. Every time I’m going to do podcasts now, I have that behind me. I have all my dirty stuff and all my chaotic stuff behind that. So anyway, today’s question, what is a recurring disc herniation guys?

As always, I had this this patient way back. We can call him Daniel. He’s 29 years old. He’s a biker. He loves to ride his bike, these racing bikes. He’s training like four to five times a week, really. He’s really hardcore, but like a year back, he had like after a long ride, he’d been out for a few hours, he had this pop in his back and it started start off quite slow but then it increased more and more.

First, it had like spread a warm feeling around his lower back. It went down his right leg, down to his foot, and it’s just pulsating all the time, pulsating, pulsating. He was quite shocked. This was actually something that had happened before.

Four or five years prior to this, he had a similar experience but that time, he just worked through it. It took like six months and it just more or less went away. But this time, it was much, much worse. He could even feel like a lack of strength in the right leg. He’s really, really, really irritated about this.

Internally guys, he was just horrified because he thought now, for sure, that his bike riding career would be over forever because he couldn’t even sit on his sports bike. Everyone that’s listening to this have seen these sport bikes. You see these small, narrow saddles that they’re on.

They’re rock-hard and they’re pressing and it’s not good for your back and you have this bent over position. There’s a lot of stuff in there that can really mess up your back, but that’s what’s his big passion in life, right?

But he’s very, very agitated because he couldn’t do that. It was also more than this because it was like an identity crisis for him. Daniel had for many years, from his 20s, identified himself as a bike rider. He was fit, he was strong. He was like the guy that could do anything physical, and all of his friends and family looked up to him because he had this great body. He was fit. He was just — had this go-get attitude.

He started suffering now because externally, he was just horrified of it because he had the MRI now just recently, and that showed that he had a herniated disc on L4-L5. That’s like the lower part of your back.

But it also showed that he had an old herniated disc four or five years back on level L5-S1. That’s the level below that. So that’s the stuff that he had like four or five years back and that more or less, he got rid of that, but you could see that he had a re-occurring injury there. He had a herniated disc and then he had another one now.

He was he had two herniated discs. It was a re-occurring herniated disc and the big problem with people that have this you know, say if they do some wrong, but how common is it? And you say that it’s between 0.5% to 25% that have re-occurring herniated discs.

No one really knows the reason behind this. It could be genetic. It could also be lifestyle and in Daniel’s case, I definitely think it was a bit lifestyle. He’s going on the bike four or five times a week, many hours at a time. He was bent over, this horrible position. He had this hard saddle, just killing his back.

Anyway, he was doing this and it’s strange. When you’re used to do a lot of exercise and then you just stop, you can’t do that. You have all this energy in your body. You need to release it. He didn’t have a way to release it now, so he’s just really agitated, really angry, really bitter, really depressed. That’s what he was.

The big wall that he hit was even worse. He went to a few different physio therapists. He got all kinds of exercise. He had core exercises. He was doing Pilates. He was doing yoga. He was doing all kinds of this stuff, but nothing really helped, and he was doing way too much. He was doing like two hours of core stability training a day.

Additionally, he went to the gym and he was doing yoga and he was doing Pilates and all totally was training like four or five hours a day for his back. That definitely was too much. It irritates the back especially if you have a disc herniation.

Anytime you’re like moving around, twisting too much, you’re irritating the disc. He was doing way too much, but it was a way for him to be productive. He was feeling productive that he was doing something for his condition, but it was actually not good for him. He was doing way too much with his injury.

The epiphany he had, he had a friend that had visited me and told him that Robin has this thing that he does, and it’s going to go against everything that you’re doing right now so you need to visit him. When he came in, he was kind of hostile. He had this attitude that you know, who do you think you are? Are you a hoax?

My friend told me to be here. I don’t really want to be here. I just told him straight off, you can leave that, okay? I don’t need to put up with this sh**. If you want to be here, you come here. You treat me with respect and you listen to what I have to say. You don’t need to buy into what I’m saying. Then you can leave, okay, but if you’re going to stay in this room with me for a bit, these 40 minutes, I’m going to examine you. I’m going to tell you what I think you should do.

Then it’s really up to you if you want to do it or not. If you’re not up to that, you need to leave. It’s like this with some types of people that you meet, patients and other people in your life. They come in with this attitude, and they think like they’re trying to dominate you. They’re trying to dominate the situation with their anger, with their hostility, think building them up like they’re really the tough guy or the tough woman.

A lot of times, most times, they’re just afraid. It’s just insecurity. When you’ve been around people quite a bit, whenever someone comes in like that, it’s just that they’re afraid. They’re uncertain and they’re trying to feel more secure. But that doesn’t work anymore because I’m here. I’m providing a service, but I definitely demand that anyone that interacts with me that I’m going to help, got to treat me with dignity and respect.

That’s something that I also think that you listening to this should implement in your life. Anyone that’s treating you like sh**, you need to cut them out of your life. Life is too short to hang around with people like that. It’s also good for your back pain because those kinds of people put a lot of stress on your back.

Okay, sorry for the sidetrack there, guys, but I needed to get that off my chest. Anyway, we put up a plan for him. I told him. I actually made him sign a contract with me to just do the two things. He should have a 30-minute walk in the morning, first thing in the morning, before breakfast and a 30-minute walk before dinner time.

For the first three months, that’s the only thing I wanted him to do, nothing else. He needed to cut out all the yoga, all the stability training, weight training, bike, anything that he did, he needed to cut that out.

Also I noticed when he was in there, Daniel, in the office, he was always on his cell phone. He was getting messages. It was pinging, it was ringing. He was getting emails. It was just crazy you know.

He was in marketing, this guy, and he was telling me, well, I need to do that or else I’m not going to be able to support myself. I told him, that’s also a rule, my friend. You need to cut this out.

You can check your phone and your email at 8:00 in the morning and at 12:00 and at 4:00. That’s three times a day. Besides that, you need to cut that out. That stress that these messages and these SMS and all that, that’s putting stress on your back, in your body, and it’s creating back pain for you. You need to do that.

We actually put that in the contract as well. He had like half an hour from 8:00 to 8:30 and from 12:00 to 12:30 and from 4:00 to 4:30 to check his messages and reply. Besides that, he needed to cut that out and just walk a half an hour in the morning, half an hour in the evening. That’s it for the first three months.

He called me back week one, afterwards on the phone. He told me it’s not working. Well, I told him, you’re full of sh**. It’s of course not working. It’s just been a week. You need to give this time. You’ve done so much stupid sh** before this so you really need to step back and do it correctly now. It’s going to take time for you.

We had a few of these phone calls. We actually had a few Skype calls as well because he lived quite a way from my office. We had these conversations but he was sticking to it. He was sticking, too. After about six weeks, he visited me in the office again and told me, hey, I’m feeling a bit better you know. I’m feeling a bit better. I’m like 25% to 30% better and I’m starting to believe in this concept of doing less, much less.

At this moment, he was doing about 80% less exercise that he used to do. He also did like 80% less of his phone, phone thing, with the email, SMS and he also started to cut down on coffee. He used to have like 8-10 cups of coffee a day. That’s what he was getting energy from. He had like three cups now and the other time he was drinking tea, this green tea.

He was telling me that he actually started to call up old friends as well because he had this extra time, and he started to spend time with other people around him that he just lost contact with, because he was so busy doing his training all the time.

He actually met a girlfriend as well. He started to date again. He had an old relationship that he’s been in for many, many years. They broke up. He got a bit sore or really, really injured emotionally from that breakup. For like two, two and a half years, he wasn’t dating anyone at all.

His life right now is quite different from a year back. He’s definitely feeling better. All the pain isn’t gone, but he has, Daniel has realized that there’s more to life than just training, and he can’t use the training to escape his life.

A lot of people if you binge and if you do too much of stuff, it’s going to have a negative effect. If you exercise too much, it can definitely have a negative effect on your back and your body. If you watch too much TV, if you’re watching Netflix too much, that’s going to create problems in your life.

If you’re gamer, if you do that many hours a day, it’s going to destroy your life. Same with the email and the SMS and being on social. All of that stuff, everything that you’re doing too much of, that can definitely irritate your life and create big problems in your life.

To create balance in your life, you have to set up rules for yourself, and it might sound juvenile, you know, but you need to write these down.

It’s the same thing with the walk. He’s doing his walks every day. He never misses that, and he’s sticking to this email and SMS thing, just half an hour in the morning, at lunch, and dinner. It’s working for him.

The big question is, will Danny be able to go back doing the bike riding? That’s his passion in his life. Guys, I don’t know. I’m definitely sure that he’s going to be able to do some bike riding and for fun and stuff, but if he more or less wants to go back to be a professional bike rider, I don’t know at this moment.

The only thing we know right now, if you’re into it, is that he’s moving in the right direction and he emotionally has understood internally, that he was doing too much of stuff that wasn’t good for him. He made the switch. He understands it in his brain.

That’s like the first thing you need to understand. You understand in your head that you’re going down the wrong path and sometimes, you need someone, just more less to lift up your neck collar and tell you, you’re going the wrong direction. You need to go through and do this path.

The easy way to know if you’re going down the right path or the wrong path is look like a year and a half, two years back. Are you still struggling? Are you trying to fix a problem that you shouldn’t fix? Is it something that you just need to let go?

That can be many aspects in your life, but the thing is that when you have a lot of these different aspects in your life that’s not working for you and you’re constantly trying to fix a problem that shouldn’t be fixed, that stuff created stress in your life and it goes to your back okay.

Whatever thing you’re struggling with, one or two things, the major big things in your life, you need to sit down, get a piece of paper, and write down all the stuff that you need to do to correct it. There’s this 80/20 principle. You can Google it. You can go back and listen to previous episodes about this.

I show you how to do an 80/20 analysis over your life, and we tell you all about it. It’s quite easy. I do one myself every Friday to keep my head clear and just make sure that I’m doing the sh** I need to do and not focusing on stuff that’s not important for me.

Okay, guys. It’s a bit of a long one this one. It’s been a rant, but I need to get this off my chest. 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.