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Bad Grappler
4/25/2014 2:07pm,
So a couple months ago, a new guy got me in a can opener and before I could escape my hips, he stacked me. Felt a pop and pain in my neck, but brushed it off and finished the roll. Shortly after, was having pain in my shoulder and arm.
Being a jack ash, I continued training 6 days a week. It got to the point that I couldn't stand for more than 15 minutes without my arm going numb.

After 3 months I finally got my neck x-rayed. I have sclerosis and osteophyte on my C5 and C6 vertebrae. I'm waiting on my appointment with an orthopedic to see about treatment, but my doctor said to lay off all physical activity for now.

I've looked on the internet, but can't find anything from grapplers with neck injuries.

So, being a jack ash, I've continued to go to jitsu, but I'm only doing drills and very light rolling.

I know the 'logical' thing would be to listen to my doctor, but he's just general practice and that's the default answer for law suit purposes. I have 2 competitions coming up in the next 5 weeks, and I'm terrified of ceasing all training.

Seriouly, I in vision myself having to start from scratch if I miss a few weeks of training.

mike321
4/25/2014 3:43pm,
Acknowledging your underlying fear is a good thing. I am not as driven on my training as I should be and interrupting my training for any reason has ended up with my lazy self taking longer breaks than I should. But a serious injury is not to be messed with. The recommendation I have heard (and not followed) is to not fill training time when injured. In other words, if sick take a nap during training hours, if hurt get yourself to your school with street clothes and a note pad...but don't roll.

Good luck with the injury and if you follow this advise that I have never followed works out, let me know!


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Chili Pepper
4/25/2014 6:13pm,
I know the 'logical' thing would be to listen to my doctor, but he's just general practice and that's the default answer for law suit purposes. I have 2 competitions coming up in the next 5 weeks, and I'm terrified of ceasing all training.

Let me guess, you're in your early to mid 20's, eh? Takes a while before you learn to baby your injuries.



I know the 'logical' thing would be to listen to my doctor, but he's just general practice and that's the default answer for law suit purposes. I have 2 competitions coming up in the next 5 weeks, and I'm terrified of ceasing all training.

Let me guess, you're in your early to mid 20's, eh? Takes a while before you learn to baby your injuries.

Bad Grappler
4/25/2014 6:44pm,
It would be nice to be in my 20's. I'm 31.

After weeks of heavy drills, lessons, and open mats; I'm starting to see my techniques and flows becoming more 'smooth'. And, oddly enough, I'm starting to see holes in my game and my weaknesses.

I'm afraid I would lose this if I had to take a break.

Chili Pepper
4/25/2014 8:14pm,
It would be nice to be in my 20's. I'm 31.

Damn! Missed that one! Usually by the time you hit 30, you've been forced to baby an injury.


It would be nice to be in my 20's. I'm 31.

Damn! Missed that one! Usually by the time you hit 30, you've been forced to baby an injury.

Bad Grappler
4/25/2014 8:41pm,
I've had my share of minor injuries. Stubbed fingers, bruised ribs, twisted ankle, black eyes, bloody lip, currently a broken toe... I just tape, if possible, roll light and keep pushing on.

Krijgsman
4/26/2014 2:02am,
I know that after I initially injured my knee I kept going back to Judo thinking "I'll just do what I can and take it easy" and without fail every class I'd step wrong and end up writhing on the mat in pain all over again. Taking a few weeks off the mat (I still go to class but the most I have done was taught a brand new student ukemi) has really helped in my recovery. I make sure to pay attention during instruction and drills and visualize myself going through the same exercises. I certainly miss actually rolling, but letting my injury recover properly will me I will be back on the mat healthy faster.

Shawarma
4/26/2014 12:15pm,
I am a chiropractor and work with this sort of thing on a daily basis. What you describe sounds about 95% likely to be a herniated disc in your neck. Herniated discs are typically caused by violent movements into flexion, such as a can opener. I myself struggle with the same problem as you are due to a strong noob can opening me into oblivion, so I would be surprised if that wasn't your problem here.

X-rays did not show anything particularly interesting because discs are too soft to show up on them. What would be a good idea to get instead is an MRI scan, as the level and severity of the herniation will be easy to see on that one.

I don't work within the Canadian health care system so I can unfortunately not advise you on how the process of aquiring an MRI is done, but I strongly suggest you get one done if possible. Do you have an insurance provider that could get you one? Will the orthopaedic doctor be likely to send you to one? He'll have to evaluate your symptoms and X-ray as well, just in case you've somehow managed to aquire symptomatic osteofytes at a very young age.

As for what you should do, you should first of all take your doctors advice and STOP training martial arts for now. Not tone down, STOP. Every time somebody yanks your neck around they're irritating the disc and pushing back the healing period. You do not want this as discs, unfortunately, take many months to heal up. I would also not really do any strenuous activity involving your neck or shoulder region, which includes bench pressing and most gym activity. Some people with disc problems CAN go jogging, but it's pretty individual whether you'll tolerate it or not.

Secondly, if you know a good physiotherapist, it would be a good idea to consult one, depending on how long a wait you have before the specialist is ready to see you. There is a method of self treatment widely used by physiotherapists and chiropractors alike that works astoundingly well on disc problems. It is called McKenzie technique. Get somebody who knows what they're doing to show you how to perform this and then do it a shitload of times during the day.

What you really need to focus on is the arm numbness. Essentially, neck pain is not that important when talking about disc herniations. What you need to do is to reduce the pain in your arm - if your arm pain gets worse, that means your condition is improving. If it gets better, or the focus of the pain seems to move further up your arm than before, this is improvement, even if your neck hurts more. This is a process called "centralisation" of the pain, and it is something McKenzie procedures is very effective at. Conversely, if you find that you have less pain in your neck but MORE pain in your arm and hand, you're getting worse. This is potentially serious if you lose strength in your arm or hand, in which case you MAY require surgery. I would also advice you to have someone look at your physique shirtless and see if there's any reduction of muscle size on your afflicted arm. With long term disc herniations, temporary muscle loss is likely to occur.

Feel free to ask me if you've any questions regarding this. I wouldn't freak out too much about it - it is a very common injury in the general population and 9 out of 10 of them can be resolved without the need for surgery. Just don't irritate it any more, please.


OP

What is the worst case scenario if you do train through your injuries?
Full blown disc prolapse with resulting loss of motor function in the afflicted arm requiring surgery and/or year-long rehab.

Bad Grappler
4/26/2014 7:06pm,
My neck is mostly just stiff, 'pops' a lot, and I don't have the same range to my right as I do my left. I have some muscle weakness in my arm, but it's kinda minor.
The pain is in my shoulder, and numbness in my arm.

With my insurance, I have to have my orthopedic order an MRI and set up my treatment. Bad thing, it takes over a week to get an appointment, and another week to get an MRI. Then another week for an appointment with the orthopedic to read the MRI. (That's how it was to get my shoulder looked at.)

So since it has been 2 weeks since the X rays, and a possible 3 weeks before I start any treatment; I can't just put my jitsu on hold, since I've already paid registration on one of the competitions.

I mostly roll with higher belts that I know don't spaz or use a neck crank.

WHICH, after two black belts put me through an armbar clinic Thursday and today, I've started to improve my arm placement and defense.

So there is some good coming out of this.

Bad Grappler
4/26/2014 7:27pm,
And my doctor said to cease all physical training and exertion until the orthopedic has diagnosed me.

Pretty standard 'cover my ass for liability' diagnosis if you ask me.

mike321
4/26/2014 8:44pm,
And my doctor said to cease all physical training and exertion until the orthopedic has diagnosed me.

Pretty standard 'cover my ass for liability' diagnosis if you ask me.

Do you have any evidence to support this? I think you may be rationalizing.


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Shawarma
4/27/2014 9:21am,
You should give your doctor some credit here. In this case, he is telling you to stop training because there is no doubt that you have some actual damage to your neck causing compression of a nerve. This is NOT something you want to ignore, it is NOT something that responds well to high-load training and it IS something that you can aggravate to the point where you lose general muscle function in your arm if you stress your neck too much.

You seem to want to be told "yeah, go ahead and train, nothing bad will come of it!" Neither I nor any halfway competent health care professional will be willing to do this. Because at present, your disc problem doesn't sound too bad, but it really only takes one more noob yanking hard on your neck to cause that disc to herniate completely, at which point you're looking at possible surgery and a year out of grappling training plus rehab.

Stop training for now. Get your MRI done. Take your specialists advice on whether to get rehab or, if you're very unlucky, surgery.

And as much as I know it sucks, you are in absolutely no shape to compete either. You WILL get back to training at high intensity again, but you are currently not just injured, you are DAMAGED, and damage to your disc needs to be correctly diagnosed and healed up before you should even think about grappling again. Lots of high-level athletes have suffered disc herniations without ending their careers, but they were smart about it and took the time out of training. If you do not, the worst case scenario is an end to your grappling career, period.

Shawarma
4/27/2014 11:21am,
The argument "I have a herniated disc" may carry some weight here. This is not you being a pussyqueer, it's you needing to take time out or face possibly long-term disability.

The argument "I have a herniated disc" may carry some weight here. This is not you being a pussyqueer, it's you needing to take time out or face possibly long-term disability.

NeilG
4/27/2014 11:35am,
I can't just put my jitsu on hold, since I've already paid registration on one of the competitions.


What was the entry fee, a million bucks or something? Your health is worth more than $50 or whatever it was.

People bail on competitions all the time due to training injuries. It's the smart thing to do; don't be an idiot.

Bad Grappler
4/27/2014 11:55am,
Registration was $110, for two divisions, and I'm waiting to hear back about that refund. Comp is in 2 weeks, so still pretty early.

I've told my training partner I'm injured and won't be able to roll for the time being. I've still not told my instructors, but plan to. And I still plan to go to class and do the drills, but going to stop all rolling.

I just got a brand new gi in the other day, and it needs shown off!

Shawarma
4/27/2014 12:14pm,
Sorry, but even drilling is going to strain the disc. Not neccessarily to the point where you risk permanent disability but certainly prolonging your recovery time by a significant amount and keeping you from operating at peak efficiency.

Put it like this: every day you train injured adds a day of recovery from your injury. So you can make the choice between resting now and being fit to train at full speed in a couple of months or continuing to train and MAYBE being pain free in a year, your progress as a grappler having been hurt far more by you not being able to train efficiently or spar at full speed than if you'd simply taken a bit of time off.

Professional athletes do not train with larger injuries. Not because they couldn't work through the pain but because they need to be in perfect condition to be competitive. Failure to do so shortens careers. Look at Bas Rutten, whose training regime was so olskool and hardcore that he can presently not walk down stairs without severe knee pain. Don't be that guy.

I'd work on cardio and lower body strength instead of grappling in this case.