This is the first time I've ever blogged from bed.

I Have A Herniated Disc In My Back

I hurt my back while exercising last Tuesday. I immediately stopped and decided to take a couple of days to relax, hoping the pain would subside.

Which it did.

Friday I was feeling well enough to exercise again but only a few minutes in, I felt a different kind of pain in my back, much worse than the earlier strain.

This time, I knew I was done for a while.

The pain only got worse over Saturday. I couldn't go anywhere so I again decided to take a couple of days to relax, hoping the pain would subside.

Which it didn't… much.

Have you ever had a job search interrupted by a major health issue?

While the pain did go down ever so slightly, on Monday I started noticing tingling in my right leg.

I waited a few more days to see if the situation would get any better but the numbing feeling wasn't go away.

It was time to visit my doctor.

The doc conducted a few simple tests on me after listening to my story: first he had me lie down and raise each leg as far as I could. I could raise my left leg without any problems, but my right leg I could barely lift.

Next was to have me tiptoe, and that wasn't hard.

Finally, he had me walk on my heels. I could only do it on my left heel as my right foot would immediately drop down flat on the floor every time I put down my right heel.

That was all he needed to see. “Congrats! You've got a herniated disc in your lower back.”


The prescription?

No sports or other physical activity and one extreme painkiller per day that I have to take after a meal to avoid stomach problems.

And if I don't? A CT scan and possibly a little thing called surgery.

So here I am! For the first time in 10 years of JobMob, I'm blogging an article while lying on my bed.

I don't know if this is what will be happening for the next 4 weeks, and a lot will depend on how the treatment goes.

In the meantime, I have to figure out how I can get things done while horizontal.

My wife is already making jokes about how she feels sooooo bad that I need to lie down and relax for a month…

So how am I blogging this?

If you're curious, I'm using my smartphone while talking into a Google Doc using Google voice typing as my keyboard.

It's actually pretty cool! It types pretty quickly  although I probably need to speak 20% slower than usual so the software can keep up. And I definitely need to follow it up with more proofreading than usual.

What do I have planned for the next month of bed rest?

Besides hoping it won't really be a whole month (or more!) I don't know yet.

Right now I'm definitely most comfortable when lying down. If I stand, my right leg starts falling asleep. If I sit, my right leg starts falling asleep AND I get the added bonus of extreme lower back pain whenever I get up.

My doctor said that if I follow his prescription, I should be able to sit down more comfortably soon enough. Which means I might get back to working on my laptop sooner than later.

In the meantime, I'm going to rearrange my priorities and experiment with different ways of working with my smartphone. Now seems to be a good time to start making videos instead of long blog posts, who knows? That, and outsourcing.

Update: July 2018

Looking back one year later…

The key advice that helped me get better came from my sister, my brother-in-law and an old friend from high school who is a physiotherapist.

My sister said that I should sleep with a pillow under my thighs, forcing my legs to be raised, releasing pressure on my lower back.

My brother-in-law recommended that I do the exercises in the video below, because they helped him with this own back problems:

My old friend from high school confirmed the above good advice but clarified that I should do the exercises every 2 hours, and I used a timer on my smartphone to remind me regularly.

She also said that my doctor was incorrect to prescribe so much bed rest, because with a herniated disc, the right exercise is what will help the fluid dissipate in the disc, lowering the inflammation that was pushing against nerves in my spinal cord.

And she was right, of course: the strong anti-inflammatory pills lead to less pain, but it was the regular exercises that led to progress within a few days, and within a week I was able to sit again without too much discomfort.

I continued with the exercises for another few weeks until I stopped taking the anti-inflammatory pills and 95% of the pain was gone.

A few weeks after that, I went back to exercising regularly, just like before this whole story began, but very quickly I decided to change regimens to something that put less stress on my lower back.

Ultimately, it took almost 6 months for me to feel full normal again.

This was another video I found helpful:

Question of the article

Have you ever had a herniated disc?

Do you know anyone who has?

Tell us in the comments. I'd love to hear how you or they got through it.

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Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Elizabeth

    Chiropractor (a good one), massage and acupuncture (the ofter overlooked godsend). Of course, after getting a thorough workup from an orthopedist.

  2. Baboosh

    Hi Jacob,

    So sorry to hear this. Once you’ve had the x-rays and catscans done, I would
    seek out a good chiropractor. I WOULD NEVER OPT for surgery unless absolutely
    necessary and a good chiropractor would tell you if you needed it. I broke my back
    at 20 and had a bad spondolo. A chiropractor helped me to heal completely!
    It took about 9-12 months but FAR better than any surgery. I would ALWAYS opt for
    the simple medicine- alternative and very simply because IT WORKS. But if you
    dont believe it than it WON’T work so go for your regular doctor. THere are so many fantastic alternatives out there and most people know this. THerapies that have been around for hundreds (and thousands) of years. Chiropractic started in I believe 1890’s.

    Best of luck! A healer or doctor NEVER heals the patient. THey provide the support and frequency or the wisdom to provide the tools to the patient. THE PATIENT HEALS HIM/HERSELF or not.

  3. Heidi Sanoussi

    Ice, lots and lots of ice….will help with the pain and muscle spasms. I herniated a disc in September ironically about 20 minutes after I had accepted a new job offer. Left my house in an ambulance and spent 2 weeks 1/2 weeks flat on my back in the hospital unable to move. Left with a walker, numb/burning/tingling down my left leg from my hip to my foot. The sciatic pain was agony but if you Do exactly what the doctors tell you to and you faithfully do the stretches and exercises they give you at PT it will get better. 8 months later I am still numb and tingling in my leg and foot but I’m headed in to have Surgery tomorrow to fix that up. Good Luck with your back and rest up like your doctor ordered.

  4. Batya

    Refuah shleimah. When they flare up, it really hurts. I feel for you. Fortunately there was good news for me: physical therapy. It really helped me and I grew to love my physical therapists. I needed to have injections to calm the nerve root. Then I followed my PT regimen religiously and didn’t overdo it. Yes, sometimes I still get twinges. As we age, we need to listen to our bodies and respect that what was once easy may now be more difficult. I wish you patience and healing.

  5. Maureen Seiger

    Jacob, what a horrible thing to have happened. I have had much experience with this unfortunately. And here is what I learned.

    The most important thing is bed rest. And by bed rest, I do mean BED rest. No getting up to eat, watch TV, or even pee. There is nothing as good as bed rest but it must be done properly. Get diapers if you have to. Pee in a bottle. DO NOT GET OUT OF BED OR STAND UP.

    Next, try not to go for surgery. It is hard to think while you are in pain and, as far as I am concerned, painkillers are a must–even if they are not good for you. Pain is worse. My daughter broke her back in two places. No surgery. Pilates osteopath if you can find one. It takes longer than surgery but is nowhere near as dangerous. Expect at least one month of pain and misery, even with painkillers. After that, it can take care of itself.

    Please don’t get cocky and think “I can do that. It won’t hurt”. Believe me, it will.

    Good luck

  6. Shalom Bresticker

    I had one a few years ago, and for me the solution was also a good physical therapist, even though the fanily doctor was originally skeptical. She did wonders for me!

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