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So, just this last spring....I became acutely aware of having a herniated disc. It was the l4/l5 with a 3rd of it breaking off and pressing up against the thecal nerve sac. I was in a great amount of pain then, but it basically went away on its own. I have not had any pain since - maybe April.
I have been hitting the gym and trying to strengthen my core muscles as much as possible. I am going to try an 8 day or so backpacking trip for elk....hopefully, it will all be good with no injuries and a good elk.
Does anybody have any experience with a herniated disc and packing out meat or for that matter backpack hunting and packing out meat? Thanks.
You're doing the right thing trying to strengthen your core. As you probably know it can come and go. I'd definitely take walking poles. You maybe fine and you maybe airlifted out.
"I have not had any pain since - maybe April."
From a prognosis standpoint, that's fantastic news.
Packing out the animal is going to be your biggest potential problem (I assume you're not packing in 65 lbs of gear 5 miles). Are you going alone? If you blow out while packing the first load, you risk needing to be carried out AND losing your animal. You need help. Consider hiring a packing service to get your animal out unless you've got good help with you. It doesn't cost that much.
If you're going to be packing it out, don't kill yourself. Yeah, we can all put 100 lbs on our back, but it's just a bad idea for you. Take 40 to 50 lb trips and just put the mileage in. Be prepared to sleep with your meat for the night and take 1/3 to 1/2 mile trips back and forth from a meat cache that you move up 1/3 - 1/2 mile at a time in small weight loads.
If you end up needing to have surgery, you want someone who is an absolute artist. In my area, there's several guys that do the surgery, but one that has consistently good outcomes.
I went thru this during Christmas. Had the same problems at first, bulging disc. I got better for a few months, then I tripped stepping in a hole and that's what set it off. I now have a ruptured disc, with severe sciatic nerve pain! Have had 3 injections that helped, but still taking a bunch of meds to get through each day. Its no joke! I missed 3 months from work!
Ok....so, I much better off than Junior (sorry dude). Hope I don't go that route....and hope you get off that route.
Yes, my disc is ruptured....1/3 floating off somewhere where it no longer hurts. Can't even feel it....even when I exercise.
OK, with that said, yes, my backpacking trip while elk hunting is gonna be around 5 miles....hope to have my elk pack down around 50#....we'll see.
Is there anybody out there who has a like condition who still backpacks in/out and hauls meat?
As for one of the posts above, yea, I am seriously thinking about a packer. Yes, I do not go alone....a buddy and me go in/come out together, but I am not going to saddle him with my situation (i.e., packing out my schtuff).....a packer does have its merits, but again, I am wondering as to how others have been impacted? Thanks.
I had a laminectomi there in 95 and stayed doing the same job as a truck and equipment mechanic, ended up 10 years latter with fusion. The back is doing great. I had a great neurosurgeon. The exercising is the key to good back health. I had one horrible pack out 4 years ago and the back survived it fine.
That sucks as ya know it is lurking for just the wrong move or lift by you.
No doubt strengthen the support muscles including your ab's.
I added lap swimming years ago and when mine 'returns' seemingly on a yearly basis----the lap swimming helps sooth it and give it a week to mellow out.
I do carry those back patches like Icy-Hot and kinda do enjoy them.
Hang in there--'Bend at the Knees' and lift!
Good luck, Robb
Everyone is very different in how they handle it. Mine is the L4-5 and I can handle the pulling down weight of a a backpack without much problem. Most of my pain is caused if I have to hold any weight out in front of me. Best of luck with that and I hope you stay symptom free.
I herniated 2 discs a couple seasons ago and have managed to beat it while still keeping up with my backcountry hunting addiction. One word, YOGA! This stuff worked a miracle for me. I was told 2 years ago that I wouldn't play basketball or go snowboarding again and that I may never even be able to run. I wasn't having that! Through constant stretching, yoga, and prayer I have completely recovered and am in the best shape of my life. My pack is the only limiting factor to how much I can carry. You can do it! Good luck and have Faith!
otcWill is correct. Other than core strength the most important thing you can do is stretch. I had the very same disc injury which ultimately required surgery to fix. Prior to it becoming to the point where surgery was the only option the best fix was hamstring stretching. The more flexible your hamstrings are the less stress is put on the lower back.
Stretch and stay hydrated! Discs hydrate more slowly than other tissues, so don't get behind. I had a fusion of L4-L5-S1 12 years ago. I've packed many elk, bear and sheep out since then.
Have you had an MRI. I had back surgery back in the days pre-MRI, so I know the importance of that test. I would highly recommend finding a good neuro. surgeon and find out what he or she thinks. I am afraid that with out intervention you will have a more server relapse.
Funny you mention this today.
I'm currently stuck at home laying flat on my back due to sciatic (sp?) nerve pain.
All I did was bend over to throw some sticks in the fire last sunday. pretty much had to be carried to the car so they could get me to the hospital. The pain was/is excruciating! If something like this happened in the woods while by myself I'd be stuck there waiting for help.
Thinking my days of hunting by myself may over :(
Waterlooboy - sorry to hear your misery. At least I have a better story than yours - I killed a sheep and packed it out....think I did it sleeping the night before though...I did manage to pack out my sheep and gear though.
As for the post about the MRI, yes, had it and that is how I know. I talked with a back/spine/pain management doc and he told me that I was the 1% who did not have any persisting symptoms or pain...he told me to go out and have fun hunting. He also told me to get back into the gym ASAP.
As such, I am just trying to figure out if others on here have had similar issues and if they have/have not been impacted with the way they hunt.
It sounds as if I stay in the gym and don't try to be superman with my pack outs that I should be OK. Gone are the days of packing out an entire deer or sheep in one trip or the 1/2 of a boned out elk....just need to be realistic about my back.
I bought a Hennessy Hammock to make sleeping more comfortable...rather than the thermarest and the MSR Hubba tent.....hopefully, that will help. Don't want to wake up stiff and start the day out bad...
Thanks for the responses so far.....
I underwent a successful decompressive laminectomy and discectomy on L4,L5 8 weeks ago.But im having residual nerve pain in my shin and paralysis,causing slight foot drag.Has anyone heard of this? While lying here recovering i found out i drew AZ 1 2b 2c early archery. What motivation to get straightened out. My surgeon says with heavy rehab i should have no problem spending the whole month of sept in Az. My surgeon also told me Do Not hike with weight in a back pack while working out for the trip. Do cardio and build leg strength separately and you will be fine.
Hey jbone, I also have a slipped and herniated disc ( second to last in the bottom of my spine. Exercise is crucial. Just make sure it's a less is more approach as far as weight. These guys are right about the pain being able to come on at a moments notice. Also from my own experience I must tell you that inversion has done wonders for me. The Teeter Hangups product really works ( at least for me ) You may want to ask your doctor about this as well as it takes stretching to a whole new level.
I wish you the very best of luck this season and hope your back let's you bring out a giant. Please keep us all informed on how things go.
Best regards, Scott Alberda - Bowsite sponsor Bow and Arrow Adventures
BG....yes, I have heard of the foot drag. That is from nerve damage.....at least that is what the doctor told me. I had similar symptoms for 1 evening. It then went away. If it persists, it may become permanent.... at least that is what my doc told me. Good luck.
Yea...my boss raves about an inversion table....don't know if that would do squat for me. 1/3 of my disc is already detached and floating...don't think I have compression issues....I know my other discs are fine....that is what doc said after reading MRI.
Exercise is very crucial for those who has problem with disc whether it's herinated or slipped disc.My friend have the same spinal problem and he diagnosed it by a Spine Surgeon
, after having it he's suggested to do some exercises and no he has advised not to lift more weight as this results in occurring the problem again.
Had my L1,L2,and L4 fused and rods and brackets installed.that was in 2003.if I sit for long,left leg gets numb.
I agree fully with the stretching and core strength. I also agree with the pain coming at a moments notice. Woke up christmas morning and it took me 45 minutes to get out of bed and get pants on. Disc slipped out in the middle of the night. Prior to that, no pain for 4 months. Now 3 months later I am finally able to put in good workouts at the gym and run again. Stretching and my inversion table have done wonders. Along with lifting correctly (its amazing how well you lift with your legs AFTER you've hurt your back).
Should also note that I pack train with an 85 pound pack all spring and summer. I put it on the other day and everything felt great. A good hip belt helps. I actually feel worse when I'm not working out or staying active. Laying around kills my back.
I herniated L5/S1 several years ago in my late 30's and didn't have surgery. 15 years later I'm still going strong and doing what I want including back packing and packing animals. I'm religious about stretching and do that for 20 minutes every time I make it to the gym with a focus on stretching my lower back, hamstrings and hips. Core strengthening is also very important. I went to a good physical therapist to learn routines for core strengthening exercises as well as stretching.
Note I did have an MRI which showed the herniated disc. The first MRI was followed up by a second six or so months later which showed the disc material had been absorbed by my body. The neurosurgeon told me there's enough room in the lower back so this is possible. At the same time I also had a herniated disc in my neck which was the reason for the second MRI. The neck disc required surgery and caused nerve damage that still causes my left arm to shake when it gets tired.
I have a herniated L5 & ruptured L4. Activity is my friend, as is pilates. Before starting pilates I was at physical therapy weekly for months (deep needling, electro-stimulation, etc). Since I started pilates I haven't had to go back. It's made me really aware of all of the small core muscles that I hadn't been engaging.
Thank God I don't have back issues (my issue a is a knee). My brother does though, he's always in the gym doing the things mentioned on this site. Still his back "goes out" a couple of times a year, usually doing something as benign as reaching for a toothbrush.... Completely shuts him down for 4-5 days. I don't envy you guys..
Yoga and lap swimming are wonderful!!
Good luck, Robb
Fell out of a tree trimming it on 4/3/10. Broke L1, L2, L3, and L4 . In 2013 I went on an outfitted hunt due to not being sure of packing. Killed a 5 pt. Mules packed the elk, but I carried the head, hide and cape back to camp. No problems. Go do it and be careful. Follow above advice, but I would add to stay hydrated!!!! Discs are full of liquid. So the more hydrated the better cushioning. Can't stress this enough. Also I take 2 Motrin at bed time to relax muscles so I can sleep. Helps greatly the next day. Again go do it and be careful! Not a herniated disc, but still a back problem. Greg
I work as an APRN with a spine surgeon and assist during back surgeries. Lots of good advice on this thread. Couple of thoughts not already mentioned; Smoking or use of tobacco products dramatically lowers your ability to heal form any injury, especially spine surgery. Most spine surgeons won't even touch a patient if they are a smoker, because doing so just sets people up for a poor fusion. Also, before you worry about how much weight you can carry out, consider how much your own weight you are already packing unnecessarily. Oftentimes, just losing 10-15 pounds can make a huge difference with how your back feels.
Severely herniated my L4-L5 playing football at age 19. Slowly deteriorated through the years that prevented any distance running.
3 shots at age 30, and two more a few weeks before surgery 2 years go at age 55.
The pain was so severe I had to sleep on the floor with my legs elevated on the coach for 6 months. I could not sleep for more than 2 hours at a time.
I put our financial house in order so that if surgery was not successful I would have done the un-thinkable.
My surgeon was the same as Tony Romo's. He removed the herniated part, repaired two other bulged discs and sanded down a bone spur caused by rubbing for decades by the bulged area.
That surgeon was granted a gift by God. PM me if you decide this is the route you want to go. 6 weeks after surgery I hung a LW stand and harvested a fawn the first time out.
I have started to have minor pain, but only because I abuse myself and do not properly stretch.
I walked several hours after surgery, but it was an over-night stay.
Best wishes, and it can and will be better.
be careful If they are bulging they can rupture. Try to reduce the pressure on them (inversion table) and don't push yourself. core strengthening is a plus. I rupture two disc years ago. Surgery then,and another rupture 15 years later. My surgeon was a doctor for the Philadelphia Eagles (had a nice ring) He did a great job ,but time has taken a toll. At 57 I suffer with extreme pain at times. But keep on keeping on. Im guessing one day I wont
My surgeon absolutely is opposed to inversion tables, which I used daily until then. Too much stress on injured discs I believe?
So HfW how does your surgeon feel about inversion tables?
He is opposed to them, thinks it puts too much stress on the injured discs.
Sorry about that guys. Posted from my phone and I thought it had locked up. I do not see the edit bar on the phone screen.
I where a back brace every day , back pain from such things seldom gets better. And there is no surgery options for me , just a wheel chair and Lortab 525. They wanted to fuse half my back , told them I keep the pain. like you some nights not much sleep.
Inversion tables can oftentimes be good for lower backs, but can aggravate bad knees, hips, ankles etc, wherever the weak link may be. Also, not everybody can handle all that fluid going to their head, especially if they have high blood pressure or a history or eye problems. No point in helping your back if you stroke out as a result of the treatment.