I went looking for a community like this because I need some advice.
Back in January of 2003, when I was working as a Nurse Assistant at a local hospital, I was bending over to tie a shoe lace and had a sharp pain in my lower back that got steadily worse over the next few minutes, until I could barely stand. My dad has a history of back spasms, so we assumed that was what it was; after a few days of rest it mostly cleared up. However, over the next three months, it started to get steadily worse; I finally went to my doctor, who told me it was likely muscular; he scheduled an outpatient MIR just in case and put me on Skelaxin.
Mistake. Three days later I went from being in pain to being unable to walk. I actually had to pull over on my drive to school and make my dad come pick me up because the act of driving was too painful. That was a Tuesday. On Thursday it took two people to get me into the car to go for my MRI. They finally decided to direct-admit me to the hospital (two floors down from where I worked, in fact), and a few hours after I got there they got my MRI results (the outpatient clinic had called my doctor's office because the results were so bad).
I'd herniated three discs--L4-L5 was the worst, but L3-L4 and L2-L3 were bluging as well. The orthopedic surgeon who came to talk to me told me that based on the scan alone, he would have assumed I was an 80-year-old man who'd been lifting boxes in a factory his whole life. Since I was at the time only 19, that was needless to say a little upsetting. I had to quit my job and start physical therapy, which went over a period of several months.
Now, three years later, I'm mostly recovered. I have the occasional pang in my back that lets me know I'm sitting in a way I shouldn't, or doing something incorrectly, but for the most part I'm stabilized. I'd really, really like to get my old job back. I know in order to make sure I don't get hurt again I need to really build those muscles in my abs, back, and legs. The legs I've got covered; abs and back present a bit more of a problem. I've been forbidden to do crunches or use one of those Roman chairs, which limits me a bit when it comes to abdominal work; I have no clue what to do for my back besides rowing.
Does anyone have some good exercises, or links to good pages with exercises for abs and/or back, that take herniated discs into account?
Any advice is much appreciated!