Today’s injury report is brought to you by, well, me. Because unfortunately, I’m on it.
The Short Version: I’ve injured my back. I can’t run. And I don’t know when I’ll be able to start running again.
The Medical Version: After months of ignoring lower back & hip pain and numbness in my right foot, I finally saw a sports medicine doctor two weeks ago. An MRI confirmed that I have something called a spondylolisthesis, a common spinal disorder in which a vertebra slips forward onto the bone below it. This image isn’t my back, but it’s probably similar to what my back looks like right now.
See where the vertebra is slipping forward? You can actually feel the spot on my back where the vertebrae are out of place. My “spondy” is a grade 2, which means that the slippage is between 25-50% and is not considered severe at this point. However, the MRI also revealed that I have a herniated disc:
Both spondylolisthesis and a herniated lumbar disc can cause significant back pain, hip & leg pain, and numbness and tingling in the leg & foot. Both issues can compress the sciatic nerve and/or irritate the piriformis. So I’ve got a double whammy going on here.
I’m starting off with a conservative treatment plan, which means physical therapy and medication. I’m restricted from activities that compress my spine – like running. I also need to avoid movements that require me to twist or arch my spine, which certainly puts a damper on my burgeoning yoga practice. I’m allowed to do yoga, but some poses are a no-no. This side crow, for example, hurt. A LOT.
Some people have asked me if I injured myself by running the Rock’n’Roll Savannah half marathon. The answer is that while it probably didn’t help, I was in pain long before the race. My right hip and foot have been aching and going numb for 2-3 months now. The pain just finally got bad enough for me to make myself see a doctor. And as far as back pain – I’ve had that off & on for 20 years now, ever since I bent down to get a piece of cheese from the refrigerator. (I wish it was from something cool like hang gliding, but nope. It was cheese.) This latest round of back pain started in the summer, and I’d notice it at strange times – like when I stepped off a treadmill or sneezed.
So for the time being, Mommy Runs It won’t be running anywhere. Instead I’ll be walking, stretching, and doing a lot of PT homework. I’m hopeful that with rest and the proper care, I can get the pain and inflammation under control without escalating to more invasive measures (ugh).
Stay tuned, friends. I’ll be back. (Sorry. I couldn’t stop myself.)
Albert Ugelow aka Dad says
My herniated disc was between L4 and L5, which is the next vertebrae above your injury. I tried chiropractic treatment, acupuncture and pain shots before finally having surgery. All the chiropractor did was hurt me more. Though to be fair, he based his treatment on an x-ray and not an MRI. After getting the MRI he said he was doing the wrong treatment for mu injury. When I got my first pain shot I was in so much pain I had trouble getting up on the table to receive the shot. Over a period of around 2 months I received 3 shots, the maximum the doctor would give in a single year. By the end I felt pretty close to normal, with very little pain. Before the shots, the only comfortable position was reclining on the sofa. I worked on my laptop from that position and also ate most of meals reclining on the sofa. However, the shots only masked the cause of the injury and did not provide any healing. I was told that doing nothing more would eventually lead to further problems because the disc was still putting pressure on the nerve and eventually would cause further degeneration of the nerve and leg muscles. I also tried acupuncture. I do not think that it helped or hurt me. Eventually I had surgery and it was like a miracle. I was able to walk and sit again with no pain. I was not allowed to run for about 6 weeks, but now I am back to my regular running schedule. Everyone’s back problem is unique, so talk with your doctor about options.
Dad, I don’t remember how much of this I’ve told you, but my doc & PT very quickly determined that physical therapy wasn’t working for pain management. The next step is injections for pain. My appointment is still almost 2 weeks away, so for now I’m just doing the best I can to manage the pain. Some days are better than others. Saturday was a pretty good day, but by yesterday (Monday), I had severe hip pain. I’m not clear about the long term treatment plan. I know they’re trying to avoid surgery, but like you said, I’m not sure if we’re just going to be masking the symptoms or solving the actual problems. Your experience with surgery is definitely a factor that’s on my mind. I’ll keep you posted. xoxo
Sounds painful! Wishing you a very speedy recovery!
Thanks, Jen! Happy New Year to you!
Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner says
Sorry to hear about your injury Sharon! Wishing you a speedy recovery
Thanks – I appreciate it. xoxo
Michele C. says
UGH that super super sucks. So sorry Sharon! I hope that you take it slowly and have a full recovery. Do not rush it! I know it’s hard to slow down and stop doing things you love, but take care of yourself! Sending lots of healing thoughts your way!
Thanks, friend. Yeah – it super super SUPER sucks. But I guess my body needs me to slow down and rest. Happy New Year to you and your family! xo