Gary's new website

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Back pain, surgery, glucosamine and triathlons

Hello Gary, I have just come across your website and I must say its bloody fantastic.
I am an age group triathlete (41year female) who last year had diskectomy surgery on my lower back and am now suffering from painful degeneration that has caused me to cut my running right down (replacing with crazy fast walking) and I am finding the swimming painful too. I have just started taking Glucosamine tablets and am trying hard to not take as many panadol as I am sure it cant be good for me.

My goal is to NOT go and have fusion surgery but to still be able to race and train comfortably for as long as I can.

I was interested in your u tube piece on the various joint supplements but am now a bit confused as to what I should be taking can you help. I have also been reading many online articles about it and some say its not been proven to work and some say its fantastic, what is your opinion?

I really look forward to hearing from you. "L"

Gary Moller responds:

Glucosamine works more often than not when taken in ample quantities, consistently and for several months. It can be beneficial for back pain because the spine is a complex series of semi-mobile joints, so the same principles of joint nutrition apply.

Read my book on back pain carefully. More or less, leave the spine alone and concentrate on mobilising the hips which may be very tight as a result of all the repetitive running, cycling and swimming you have been doing over the years. Doing so may relieve stress on the low back, especially when you walk and run.

Get a trained massage therapist to massage your low back and backside muscles, locating and focussing on painful "trigger points". You will require from 6-8 sessions every 4 or so days for relief.
Try a warm Epsom Salts compress on the low back and soak in a hot bath with a cup or two of Epsom Salts. The magensium and sulphur soak through the skin into the body and aid relaxation of muscles and nerves and with tissue healing.
All of the products mentioned in this article are available from

Given your age and sporting background it is possible that you have burned your body of B vitamins and minerals, principally magnesium. If you are like 100% of everyone I have so far had tested you will be low in vitamin D. Deficiency in any, or a combination of these, will be significant factors in ongoing joint and muscle pain and failure to get better, such as you are suffering. If such deficiencies exist, then no amount of exercise, physio, manipulation, drugs, surgery or rest are going to provide lasting benefit. You must get the chemistry within the body right first for there to be a restoration of vitality and healing to the max.

Further surgery is your final option. Surgery of the type that results in loss of mobility of any joint, including in your lumbar spine, may cause additional stress on the joints located immediately above and below and they may eventually fail.
"L": Give the conservative measures of Mother Nature and Father Time a chance to work their magic. Relax! Put your feet up; your body is telling you that it needs a rest. Be lazy for a few months. Go on a South Seas winter holiday in Rarotonga and lie on the beach and eat good food for as long as you can. Find ways to pamper yourself (triathlons are punishment and you need counterbalances). Body and mind will tell you when you are ready to recommence training. Being in a fresh state, you may find that you have lost little and are very soon doing personal bests.
It is often the case in sport that more is less. Less can mean less punishment on the body and better quality of training and comnpetition. This can equate to injury resistance and higher end performances.

If you are in Wellington I am available for consultation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My husband had a terrible bank injury a few years ago when he was weight-training regularly. His doctor told him it was the worst he had ever seen and that he would have to have surgery. He didn't want to go there and tried all sorts of different treatments including osteo, physio, acupuncture, supplements, chiro, etc. What worked for him in the end was a branch of chiropractic called Network Spinal Analysis or NSA. It's very gentle and teaches your whole body how to heal and align itself. Strongly recommended! Guess you can google NSA to find a local practitioner in your area.