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Running with Spinal Stenosis (Read 954 times)

    Just got this diagnosis. Been having pain in my lower back, butt and outer thigh. Doctor ordered an MRI to rule out a herniated disc. Diagnosis came back mild spinal stenosis. Doctor said I didn't have to stop running yet, but no heavy lifting. He also said this is the kind of thing that can progress and get worse. In terms of treatment he said it's just something that has to be monitored.

     

    Just curious is anyone else is affected by this and what they are doing to manage it? Personally I don't experience any pain when I run. My symptoms tend to appear hours after especially when I'm in bed at night and in the morning.

    Fall  2013 Goals: Doable sub 22:00 5k; Challenging Sub 21:00 5k; Unlikely Sub 20:00 5k.

      My MRI shows moderate to severe stenosis at L4/L5. I'm still waiting on a follow-up with a neuro-surgical specialist. I walked out of the first appointment when the doc didn't show and am now waiting for an appointment with a different specialist. Doesn't hurt when I run nor does it hurt when I do squats, deadlifts of back extensions at the gym. Which is weird. Standing for a long time, sitting on soft furniture, and long drives will aggravate it. Yardwork is unpleasant to say the least. And my flexibility has taken a pretty good hit. Just putting shoes and socks on is a PITA. 

       

      I'm kinda expecting the same "treatment" as your doc prescribed, plus some PT. Both my parents have arthritis in some form in their backs so I know I'm pretty much screwed. Just trying to enjoy the running while I can. It's going to get worse. I won't be one of those people running marathons in their 60s and 70s. When I can afford to, I'll get a new road bike and add cycling to give my back a break. 

       

      I have noticed that hanging leg raises and reverse crunches a couple times per week has helped a bit. Chiropractor loosened things up but wasn't worth the time and money. it provided only temporary relief, and not that much. 

       

      ud32


        I delat with a herniated disc. Obviously not the same thing, but found a book - Back Rx by Vijay Vad to be helpful, along with yoga.

          I'll have to check it out. Thanks.

          Fall  2013 Goals: Doable sub 22:00 5k; Challenging Sub 21:00 5k; Unlikely Sub 20:00 5k.

            Just as a follow-up. Saw the neurosurgeon yesterday. Stenosis can have different causes. Mine is pretty straightforward - the facet joints at  L4-L5 are swollen/enlarged - whatever, they're just big - and the ligaments are thickened. So, the spinal canal gets really narrow there. I will eventually need surgery but that could be 10 years away. Didn't recommend Chiro or PT. He said the only thing that really does anything is Ibuprofen or Tylenol for pain. If it flares up bad enough, a cortisone injection can help (about a 50-50 chance). Basically I'm going to live with some level of pain in my lower back all the time. Little, if anything can be done for it. 

             

            I asked if running would make it worse or escalate the progression. His response was, "Getting up and walking around every day advances the disease. Best thing is to stay lean and active." Only thing that would raise concerns is numbness or weakness in the legs. I've only had one minor episode of foot drop about 3 years ago. That's something to watch for as well. Each episode can damage the nerves. 

             

            But he was perfectly fine with me running and running at high volume. With the caveat that I need to be aware of the numbness/weakness thing. 

             

              But he was perfectly fine with me running and running at high volume. With the caveat that I need to be aware of the numbness/weakness thing. 

               

               

               

               

              +1

              Your toughness is made up of equal parts persistence and experience. You don't so much outrun your opponents as outlast and outsmart them, and the toughest opponent of all is the one inside your head." - Joe Henderson

              Rod Staples


                Yes,  I have the same thing going on L4 and 5, my recommendation is keep on running!  You'll feel alot better.  And I have purchased and inversion table and it's the best investment for your back.. It really helps.

                teileen


                  RE: "I asked if running would make it worse or escalate the progression. His response was, 'Getting up and walking around every day advances the disease. Best thing is to stay lean and active.'

                   

                  So, was he just trying to say that existing makes it worse, kind of like living causes death; or, was he serious?  If it's the latter, my recommendation is to find a new doctor, and preferably not a neurosurgeon. 

                   

                  I know everyone's mileage varies, but for me, I have not accepted the idea that I just have to live with pain, and I don't.  I was diagnosed DDD in 2002 after having additional herniations following a large l4-5 herniation for which I had a discectomy in 1998.  As of my last set of MRI's earlier this year, I have 3 herniated discs in my neck C4-7 impinging the spinal cord, several in T, and continued degeneration in L (I kind of stopped paying attention to the details of it all when they started talking about my spinal cord).  Of course the neuro wanted to do what he does best - surgery.  Fusion.  You know, he does it all the time, it's no big deal.  No thanks!   I got a second opinion from an osteopath ultimately just letting the acute stuff calm down and here I am a few months later back to my routine and pain free (well, relatively I suppose).  As your doc said, I always have to keep an eye out for the consistent numbness and weakness indicating that it's time to make the surgery appointment, but until then, the key to my pain free life is my daily exercise, a mix of walking, running, and biking, along with massage.  As of now, it's the best path for me.  I don't even take vitamin I anymore, will never step foot in another chiro's office ("adjustments" are just too dangerous in my case), and will likely never succumb to the lure of cortisone injections.  

                    RE: "I asked if running would make it worse or escalate the progression. His response was, 'Getting up and walking around every day advances the disease. Best thing is to stay lean and active.'

                     

                    So, was he just trying to say that existing makes it worse, kind of like living causes death; or, was he serious?  If it's the latter, my recommendation is to find a new doctor, and preferably not a neurosurgeon. 

                     

                    I know everyone's mileage varies, but for me, I have not accepted the idea that I just have to live with pain, and I don't.  I was diagnosed DDD in 2002 after having additional herniations following a large l4-5 herniation for which I had a discectomy in 1998.  As of my last set of MRI's earlier this year, I have 3 herniated discs in my neck C4-7 impinging the spinal cord, several in T, and continued degeneration in L (I kind of stopped paying attention to the details of it all when they started talking about my spinal cord).  Of course the neuro wanted to do what he does best - surgery.  Fusion.  You know, he does it all the time, it's no big deal.  No thanks!   I got a second opinion from an osteopath ultimately just letting the acute stuff calm down and here I am a few months later back to my routine and pain free (well, relatively I suppose).  As your doc said, I always have to keep an eye out for the consistent numbness and weakness indicating that it's time to make the surgery appointment, but until then, the key to my pain free life is my daily exercise, a mix of walking, running, and biking, along with massage.  As of now, it's the best path for me.  I don't even take vitamin I anymore, will never step foot in another chiro's office ("adjustments" are just too dangerous in my case), and will likely never succumb to the lure of cortisone injections.  

                     I too was diagnosed with DDD in 2002 and had an impinged spinal cord. It was such a long time ago I can't remember which discs were the issue other than it was cervical ( I was in a skiing accident and had a snow boarder use my back to stop himself) Needless to say I was in PT off an on for the next year or two. Got myself  relatively pain free and was able to start lifting weights. I started running in 2005 and haven't stopped (until now but not due to the issue's from years ago) I've run a 100 miler, a handful of 50 milers I've ran around 17,000 miles since I started running.

                     

                    I had a list of things I was told I could never do. Thankfully I went for 2nd and 3rd opinions since the first one wanted to do surgery. I was told I was NOT a candidate for surgery due to the DDD. I was told IF I had surgery that I'd end up needing surgery after surgery due to the domino effect.  I was also told NEVER to go see a chiro due to the fact that it would be too dangerous so I haven't. 

                     

                    The key for me was to kep lifting so that I could keep the muscles STRONG so that they could help with my weak spine AND running!

                    Your toughness is made up of equal parts persistence and experience. You don't so much outrun your opponents as outlast and outsmart them, and the toughest opponent of all is the one inside your head." - Joe Henderson

                      RE: "I asked if running would make it worse or escalate the progression. His response was, 'Getting up and walking around every day advances the disease. Best thing is to stay lean and active.'

                       

                      So, was he just trying to say that existing makes it worse, kind of like living causes death; or, was he serious?  If it's the latter, my recommendation is to find a new doctor, and preferably not a neurosurgeon. 

                      To be clear, I don't have disc disease. The discs are fine (except for one minor bulging disc in my neck, but that's a different story). I have arthritis in the facet joints and thickened ligaments that have made the spinal canal at L4 L5 very narrow. Both my parents have arthritis in their backs so it's just bad genes. So he's saying that, yes, arthritis gets worse as you age. No surprise there. Being active, lean and healthy is the best thing to do. Again, no surprise there. Did not recommend surgery but said it will be likely at some point in the future but that could be 10 years from now. 

                       

                      And, yes, I have accepted that I will live with some degree of pain for the rest of my life. I choose to not take NSAIDS for it. The pain is not bad enough to justify the negatives. And I have a pretty good idea what causes it to flare up and can minimize/avoid those activities. Chiro did little for it and for $15/trip, the cost isn't worth it. Stretching, lifting and some yoga poses are pretty much what I do for it. It's good enough for now. 

                       

                      tweisner


                        Just got this diagnosis. Been having pain in my lower back, butt and outer thigh. Doctor ordered an MRI to rule out a herniated disc. Diagnosis came back mild spinal stenosis. Doctor said I didn't have to stop running yet, but no heavy lifting. He also said this is the kind of thing that can progress and get worse. In terms of treatment he said it's just something that has to be monitored.

                         

                        Just curious is anyone else is affected by this and what they are doing to manage it? Personally I don't experience any pain when I run. My symptoms tend to appear hours after especially when I'm in bed at night and in the morning.

                         This was my experience.

                         

                        I was experiencing pain in my lower back during long runs (for me that was 9-13 miles).  It got progressively worse until I couldn't run 3 miles without it hurting.  Pain started going down my rear and into my legs.  Finally stopped running for a few weeks.  That didn't help.  I tried a physical therapist for 3 months.  He said I had degenerative disk and suggested I find another sport.  Didn't like his answer.  I went to my general practiciner and she sent me for an MRI.  It showed mild spinal stenosis and was making me an appointment to see a neuro-surgeon.  I never saw the neuro-surgeon but opted to see an orthorpedic spine surgeon.  After he examined me, looked at my MRI, and xrays he patted me on the back and said well sorry about that but you have a bad back.  It could be worse.  Go to spin class and be happy.

                         

                        At that point, I thought I couldn't run anymore.  Then a friend suggested I see a new physical therapist.  Thinking I would get the same answer, I gave it a try anyway.  I'm glad I did cause here was the real problem:

                         

                        I did have mild stenosis.  But I was born that way.  I do have degenerative disk but so do most people my age.  However, I had a weak left hip and extremely tight right hip flexor that was was basically making me run out of balance.  My core was weak.  My tailbone was crooked.  All of that made my periformis muscles tighten which in turn shot pain into my back.  As the periformis muscles tighted, it aggravated my siatic nerve sending the pain down my leg.  With the pain being in your lower back, butt, and outer thigh it could be your periformis muscles.  Find the right physical therapist.  Don't give up.  It may not have anything to do with your back.  When she fixed all that with me, I now run better than I ever have.  Good luck.

                        Stronger than excuses!