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After reading some of these posts, I thought I should also tell my story.

I must say, having experience the past 6 months, I never thought I'd go through anything like this, and I'm shocked that there isn't more education or awareness about back injuries like mine. It is somewhat reassuring to read that other people have been through similar 'hell', but I wouldn't want anyone to have to experienced the pain I felt.

I'm a 33 year old male, healthy, thin, non-smoker, but I made the mistake of visiting a chiropractor early in 2010 after I thought I strained my back doing some renovations. Only a minor injury it seemed, and my company-funded health care covered the chiro visits. So I'd get my back 'cracked' every week or so by this chiro, which immediately would feel a bit better, but gradually, week after week, things got worse after each visit.

After about a month or two, I could no longer put on socks normally, and the pain increased dramatically down my left leg. It was as if a skewer had been shoved down my left leg, and I was basically reduced to goose-stepping everywhere. Left hamstring and calf muscles were in a permanent cramp.

So I told the chiro: "hey, I think I've got an injury, like a bulging disc, I should get an MRI", to which he replied "no you don't, it's because your tailbone still has discs, get on the table and I'll adjust you", or "it's coming from your upper back", etc, etc. A few of his later treatments were very aggressive, before I woke up and demanded a referral to get an MRI in February, and lo and behold, MRI showed a 'moderate' bulging S1/L5 disc, and what looked like some shading (in my opinion) around the bulge. Could it be blood??

Needless to say, I wasn't happy. I immediately sought a second radiographer's opinion of my MRI, to which I was told it looked like I'd "been in a car accident", with obvious 'trauma'.

By now, I was furious. Looking for answers, I found a spinal rehab clinic in my local town which offered hyperbaric oxygen therapy for spinal patients (like, for seriously debilitated people). Theory goes that because the spine gets little blood flow, it gets little oxygen to help it heal. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) oxygenates all liquid in your blood (not just red blood cells), meaning oxygen gets to places it otherwise couldn't. Apparently, it also boosts white blood cell production, and white blood cells are what clean up things like ruptured disc gel. I started this HBOT mid-Feb, and after about 40 hours in the chamber over a month (at great personal expense), coupled with acupuncture to draw my body's attention to the injury, I started to feet better.

In fact, in only a month of HBOT, I felt so good that instead of limping about I felt almost 'normal', and managed to go to the supermarket for the first time in ages. There was my mistake #2. I felt better, but I was not entirely better. The other issue was HBOT had a clear effect on my body, to the point where I was effectively 'hyper' (like I'd drank 30 coffees) after long sessions. This made it difficult to sleep, and I'm not sure whether it was my supermarket visit, or the tossing and turning at night, but in mid-March, after 40 hours of HBOT and not taking things as easy as I should have, I felt a sharp sting in the injured area. After 3 days, it hit. I was in instant AGONY just walking to the bed - left leg in convulsions, left foot entirely numb. I was writhing around on the floor, couldn't walk, ended up in hospital emergency that night and put on strong pain killers.

MRI showed that I'd actually 'popped' the bulging disc, so I now had inner disc 'gel' and some blood pushing onto the S1 nerve root. Awesome.

I spent almost a month in bed, whacked out of my brain on Oxycodone, Valium, Codeine, etc, etc. It took a month to be able to get some semblance of life back, and I immediately went and had a cortisone injection into L5/S1, which did help a bit for sure - but I was aware that it could simply be symptomatic relief. I then went back to HBOT, and after another 30-odd hours over another month I could feel things starting to improve by mid May.

Yes, I met with 3 neuro-surgeons, who all wanted me to go under the knife. I would advise strongly against this. Surgeons only know one thing, cutting stuff up. This is a ridiculous approach when you think about it. Would you heal a sprained ankle by 'cutting stuff up'? No. In the same way, cutting a 'bulging' part off a disc might immediately remove pressure off a compressed nerve, but you are also significantly weakening the disc further by removing a part of it. And not only do you risk a slip of the scalpel severing your nerves during surgery, but you can easily introduce bacteria into an area with little blood flow (leading to things like necrosis, even in your vertebrae), and scar tissue formation can become a permanent issues if it rubs against your nerves.

I was told, unequivocally, by the surgeons I saw that surgery was my only option. I could either learn to "live with hobbling about and a numb foot, or have surgery". They claimed that if a back injury wasn't better in 6 weeks, then it was permanent. Well, they were wrong. Dead wrong.

Given I only really got injured in mid-March when my bulging disc turned into a severe rupture (thanks to a heavy-handed "butcher", I mean "chiro"), and I was in agony and hospitalised and basically couldn't walk, in just over 3 months I'm walking almost normally (it would be difficult for anyone to realise I was so seriously injured), and I'm taking a very pragmatic approach to ensuring I heal. The pain is almost completely gone, and last week I managed to start walking around on only my toes for brief bouts like some kind of ballerina... which is unbelievable if you'd seen me 3 months ago!

It's now been over a month since I've had any formal HBOT/accupuncture treatment and I've been off pain killers for 2 months, and I can still feel it getting better, gradually, each day. Sometimes I go backwards, and my left foot is still slightly numb, left hamstring is still tight, and I get recurring dull pain around the actual S1/L5 injured disc. However, it would appear that with the right approach, you can get your body to heal. I hope this is completely behind me by the end of the year, and that my body will completely clear out the ruptured gel, and maybe grow back the outer fibres of my S1/L5 disc. Our bodies are amazing, no doctor or surgeon has any semblance of an idea how our bodies really work, and put simply, you need to take it easy and give yourself time to heal."Modern" science cannot explain how the body can remove ruptured disc gel from a spinal cavity, but it does happen. We're effectively chimps trying to understand what is probably the most complex, self-managing device in the universe, and I can guarantee you that cutting into it is not going to the best solution for 'healing'.

It's probably worth mentioning that I've have been on a vast array of supplements to help with healing. All kinds of B vitamins, more specifically, fat-soluble B1 (benfotiamine), and fat-soluble B12 (methylcobalamin) have helped the nerve injury in my opinion, as did Magnesium. MSM for anti-inflammatory as well as loads of fish oil. The amino acid Taurine is good for spinal injuries (I was taking grams a day). At one stage I was using a roll-on DMSO product meant for horses, and it worked, but ended up burning my skin. I've also been taking things like Gingko, green tea, glucosamine, magnesium, and more recently a natural growth hormone booster, to help with getting back on track (I read that a back injury leads to less activity and a drop in growth hormone especially in males, and becomes a vicious cycle where you get muscle wastage due to less hormone and less activity, which leads to weaker back, making things worse).

If you're reading this with a back injury, and wondering what to do.. I understand how scared you are, and confused. Everyone you meet has an opinion, and they're often contradictory. It was incredibly frustrating for me. As someone who had a very serious injury that resembled a 'car accident' and was hospitalised, that in only 3 months is now walking almost normally, but still has some way to go, my advice is:

1) REST! Do not let a chiro anywhere near your back. They ARE NOT doctors. An Osteo, if they are gentle, may be ok, but in general, no movement of the injury is best at first. You don't want to inflame things further, or risk bursting or pushing any more gel onto your sensitive nerves. I found ice to help initially, but after a while it didn't seem to do anything. But when the pain subsides a bit and you can move, you should get back moving to help promote healing.

2) Make sure you get healthy, sleep, and try and oxygenate your injury. When things calm down and you think it's ok, lightly bouncing on an exercise ball is a good way to pump blood through your spine to help things heal (which has no direct blood flow). Walking, and I imagine swimming would help. If you can do hyperbaric oxygen therapy, then my experience says it helped. Neurosurgeons would of course disagree, but then again, conventional wisdom said the earth was flat a few years ago. Surgeons are egotistical, dogmatic knife lovers living in a box.

3) DON'T have surgery, unless you absolutely have to and have exhausted all other options. Realise your body can heal - it's a simple fact. We're not talking about cancer here, it's an injury, and the body can heal injuries. You just need the right conditions to promote healing, whereby your body 'dissolves' rogue material and/or 'regrows' disc fibres. If you don't rest, your body can't do this.

4) Get onto any supplements you think that will help: MSM, Taurine, Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Magnesium, Fish Oil, Green Tea, B vitamins (especially the fat-soluble benfotiamine and methylcobalamin to help protect your nerves), I also tried colostrum and general vitamins. At one point I was almost sick from too many supplements, so I pulled back, but after 3 months I'm feeling much better (and to be honest, the rest of me has never been so healthy looking!).

Basically, we're not designed to be walking upright, so don't do anything stupid that could jeopardise your poor back any further!


OK, so I'm 1 year on from what was a very serious L5/S1 disc rupture, and I can proudly say I'm almost 100%. No more limping, numbness in my left foot is 99% better, and the only real trace of numbness is down the back of my knee.

As further advice to anyone suffering a similar situation, sit tight, do not re-injure (e.g. seeing chiropractors), be patient, and in time you will heal, if you let your body do this.

To give my healing a final push, I'm now on Lion's Mane (kind of mushroom - yamabushitake in japanese) which boosts nerve growth factor (NGF), some natural human growth hormone boosters (just amino acids and minerals that you take at night), and most importantly, every week I'm working out at a special gym dedicated to strengthening backs. I have also had a really good result using a Procaine supplement. Google it if you're interested, it's something that you take not as a pain killer, but when broken down in the body can actually help 'regenerate' your body, and therefore assist healing injuries.

The main thing to realise is, once you've injured your back, within a week or two the core muscles that keep your spine erect start to atrophy. This is because your body prevents them from working, to 'protect' the injury. The problem is, being upright creatures, less core muscle strength inevitably means more pressure onto your injured disc, and things just get worse. Surgery would only exacerbate this downward spiral as well. As always, if you don't use it, you lose it.

My advice; after you've recovered from the initial injury somewhat (i.e. the immense, debilitating pain) and got yourself moving reasonably well (this could take 8 months or so from injury), get your back muscles working again. If you can find a Kieser style gym and are healthy enough to start movement, I'd suggest you get onto it as soon as you can. I've seen a massive increase in back strength in only 4 months, and like I said, I am almost 100% with no pain.

Stretching is important too, especially the 'Cobra' pose used in yoga. This will help push your protruding disc back to where it should be. If you combine this with back strengthening to hold everything in place, you can actually reverse a disc protrusion, as I have done. (what do you think about that 'medical science'?). Stretch your hamstrings too (to release tension from lower back).

Only 1 year ago, I was writhing on the floor in agony, couldn't walk, was on way too many pain killers and was seriously contemplating surgery after being repeatedly told it was my only option. This seems a world away now, and I live almost the same as before the injury, but now I won't lift anything over 10kg.

This is my last update, as I'm moving on. If you don't like what I'm suggesting and are trying to justify surgery, well, good for you, give me a thumbs down. But you're more than likely wrong, especially if you're rushing into it, and you may live to regret letting a knife into an injured area that is trying to heal, especially an area dense with nerves and surrounded by membranes.

Good luck, and let your body heal, it's an amazing regenerating machine.


You've shared with your brothers and sisters a story of recovery generated from suffering and despair. Thank you ever so much


Thank you EVER SO MUCH for sharing your experience, it's priceless


You have convinced me


Glad to find your blog! I am pain free since a week ago after injured it on July 3rd. I learned from MRI that I have a herniated disc at L5-S1. I feel for you that the pain was hell to deal with. I've researched everything and am trying to heal by doing all the core strengthening and back stretching. I want to do everything in my power to avoid surgery, taking medicines, and injections. However, my chiropractor was the one that adjusted my back to make me pain free immediately than my PT could. They left me in pain for 3 weeks while telling me to not see a chiropractor. I was like F this and went to see my chiropractor and he finally helped me to sleep and heal faster! Although I am still doing PT to learn to heal properly and so on.


Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for sharing a lot of helpful information.