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  • arboc50
    Post count: 7

    I’m a 40yo man who had an L5-S1 discectomy 4 months ago. I had been suffering worsening sciatica for 5 months prior to that. I’ve been sciatica-free since my surgery and feel like I have my life back. I went to PT several times post-op to learn stretches and in the last month, I’ve started lifting weights again (taking it slow), regaining strength, and doing some very light running. My questions:

    1. I have spine stiffness that feels a bit sore when I lean forward and flex the segments slightly above L5-L4 (about 1-2 inches above surgical incision). The stiffness and pain is right in the boney middle of the back. For a couple months pre-op I learned that keeping a super-straight spine & great posture helped with pain. Post-op I’ve largely carried that habit. The soreness is worse after long periods of standing or after sitting a long period with perfect posture. Could it just be muscular stiffness from keeping such a ridged back with a general lack of flexing? It doesn’t really bother me 99% of the time, but lingers in the back of my mind as a possible problem arising. Should I be relaxing that lumbar region more often (the thought scares me a bit as I envision that possibly leading to a re-herniation).

    2. My herniation came from countless “back pulls” since teenage years that would leave me couch-ridden for a 1-2 days. About 2-3 years ago, I got an inversion table. It seemed to help when I had pain and sciatica and I was using it quite often with or without pain. After I herniated the disc, I quit using the table as it was painful to do so and I haven’t used it since the surgery. What are your thoughts on inversion tables? My L4-L5 disc also looks a little dark and slightly bulging on the MRI. Do you recommend these tables for anyone? Can it hurt my disc that’s had the discectomy or my other discs? Can it really help anything?

    Thanks so much for your help on this forum.

    Donald Corenman, MD, DC
    Post count: 8459

    You had an excellent response to the surgery. In the post-operative time period, it looks like you are doing well. Some stiffness after this surgery is not unexpected. Remember that you herniated out some of the jelly inside the disc and the disc has to settle somewhat. The pressure on the sidewalls of the disc has changed and that takes some getting use to. Don’t be too concerned.

    The inversion table is simply traction. Traction with your head upside down, but traction none the less. I think that there are some conditions that traction can temporarily help (isolated disc resorption, degenerative scoliosis and foraminal collapse to name a few). There are some conditions that should not undergo tractions (degenerative and isthmic spondylolisthesis to name a few).

    Unfortunately, traction only works for a couple of hours and then gravity takes over again. I don’t think traction will hurt your disc in the long run but may increase the time to adapt to the narrowing of the disc after herniation in the short term

    Dr. Corenman.

    Post count: 1

    Among the products mentioned on the list, which one is the best?

    Donald Corenman, MD, DC
    Post count: 8459

    I cannot comment on the most appropriate inversion table to use. I can say that ankle capture has to be comfortable (padded without pressure points) and the ability to easily vary the amount of traction by changing the degree of inversion is paramount (so you don’t get stuck upside-down and you can reduce the amount of traction your spine undergoes easily).

    Dr. Corenman

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