It's been just over 20 years since I herniated my first disc. The pain was so intense that no drug could come close to alleviating it, let alone take the edge off. I could not get out of bed for over a week. Once I was upright, I suffered the classic symptoms of pain and stiffness in my hamstring, and numbness from my right calf into my little toe. I couldn't feel that toe for 3 months and was beginning to think the situation was permanent. Every M.D. and D.O. I consulted suggested more drugs and eventually surgery, with a long course of physical therapy.
As I am a Chiropractor/Acupuncturist, I decided to give my colleagues a shot and went that route along with manual therapy. (Thank you, Charles Hastings, for beating me up!) I continued to endure intense pain throughout treatment. I had to learn how to walk without a limp. It was a long, slow process and I eventually plateaued. Determined to regain some normalcy, I sought other professions for advice.
I had been studying the works of Stuart McGill, Ph.D. for a few years and attended his lectures and "Learn by Doing" seminars any time he presented on the East Coast. While at a seminar at Palmer College of Chiropractic, I asked him to evaluate me. This led to a visit to his lab at the University of Waterloo, Canada.
Dr. McGill started evaluating me the moment I walked through his door. Afterward, he said I was not the worst case he had ever seen, which put me at ease. He gave me his famous "Big Three" core exercises and told me I would most likely not need surgery if I did these exercises faithfully.
As of today, I have avoided surgery and I can perform most duties without pain (with the exception of dunking a basketball!). Don’t get me wrong, if I overdo it with the kids or play too rough with the dogs, I may feel a bit of stiffness and soreness for a day or two – but no pain! Dr. McGill taught me the importance of keeping up with my core exercises, and that by doing so I could live a “normal” life.
I teach Dr. McGill’s “Big Three” core exercises and more at bwellhealth. Please contact me for a one-on-one session if you suffer from low back pain or have been diagnosed with a disc bulge or herniation.
Dr. Kevin Bardwell