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21 Yr Old with Bulging L4-L5, L5/S1 discs - Very Scared please advice

MatthysMMatthys Posts: 8
Hi,

My name is Matt and I've been suffering from sciatica coming up to 6 months. It started very very mild, and gradually got more painful until the point where it was interupting my daily work. I saw a chiropracter for several weeks with numerous adjustments with no relief, the problem just continued to deteriorate. I then saw a Physio for several weeks with the same outcome. But on that note, some exercises I was instructed to perform gave mild relief.

Several months down the track with a number of vists to chiro's/physio's/normal doctors, the doctor had me take a CT scan. This revealed I had these 2 'mild' bulges with no other associating problems in the l4-l5, l5/s1 discs.

To describe a typical day at work. I wake up, most of the time feeling good. There's minor discomfort in my leg and buttox but nothing I'd be concerned about. The drive to work is 30 mins up and 30mins back. Until very recently I didn't use lumbar support pillows. By the time I get to work, it's irritated somewhat, but I can live with it and I don't require meds yet. Half hour into the day which involves a lot of shifting seats and relocating computers into cars shelves and workbenches (I work as an onsite tech for a computer store), I'm starting to feel some serious pain and as a routine I pop 3 ibuprofin tablets with coke (caffeine addicted.. does this contribute?) in preperation for the pain. Depending on the severity of my lifting and shifting, the meds relieve the pain to the point where I can still lift and bend without being in excruciating pain (without, I have ot suffer through it). I'll try not to drag on because I'm guessing lots of people here know what the pain is like. But by the end of the day, even with another dose of 3 pills taken midday, I'm in horrible pain and I cant wait to get home (driving home is endless) and just lie stomach flat on my bed for 15 mins. It's the ONLY position I can be in where after 15 mins - 30 mins I'll be 97% painfree.

I don't want to lie on my bed all evening so once but buttox/leg/back muscles have relaxed from lying down, the pain is again bearable and I'm able to sit. Sitting for long periods (even with occasional stand up breaks) become extremely irritating after some hours. Going to sleep is what I look forward to most some days because I get some serious relief.

I'm currently seeing a physiotherapist (different than my original) who has a technique called 'McKenzies Remedy'. I've been given 2 simple instructions, do a back arch exercise in the lying flat on stomach position (I won't go into details of the exercise because theyre different for every person I assume) and if I do it when I'm currently in pain, it gives significant relief (including a 15 min lie down afterwards). But, if I do anything OTHER than lie down, it becomes irritating.

I'm sorry if this is going so long and not well structured.. but I just need to know one really important thing for me.

I'm young and really eager in the industry I'm working in (IT) but that one way or another involves a LOT of sitting down.

As of seeing the new physio, and taking days of work, with ice packs and a lot of lying down (just music and reading books) the pain is really low and not at all bothering in comparison. But as soon as I sit for a couple of hours it becomes irritated again and it flairs up really bad.

Currently I'm going for regular swims (brings relief to some degree and hopefully keeps me fit), doing that one but effective back stretching exercise to rebuild that curve in my lower back. And trying to stay calm and lying down. And it's allowing me to skip taking meds.

But this leaves me immobile ALL day. As soon as I get active (other than swimming and slow controlled walks) it gets irritated.

The main concern I have, is that I was told that pain should recede up the leg as the condition improves. Currently it runs right down to the back of my foot (not as painful int he foot, but pain none the less). And although I can achieve almost pain free without meds by lying down and back arch stretches, everytime I irritate the condition the pain returns right down to the foot.

I just need to know if there's hope for me. For the first time I'm seeing relief in the exercises and from relaxing (which my boss would enver let me do before). But I want to be able to go back into a job eventually where I'd be requried to sit for 8 hours.

PLEASE tell me I can achieve this painfree? I will gladly do any routine exercise and stretches and try and maintain a new improved posture. But is there hope? I've read so many horrible stories about bulding discs causing life long pain.

I actually cried on the way home today.. I don't want to live in pain....
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Comments

  • Welcome to Spine Health. Well the good thing is, that you are young and eager to do whatever it takes to beat this. The fact that your body responds to the physical therapy is a plus.

    You're right, many members here have a similar story or experience. The key thing to remember though, is this is YOUR EXPERIENCE and you are living it.

    I wish I could look into a crystal ball and tell you that everything will work out great. I can't do that. I'd be a billionaire if I could. When I first hurt my lower back, I figured that as soon as things settled down, it would be fine. I figured I'd make things strong and that would be that. No such luck. HOWEVER, when I had people telling me that my life as I knew it was done and over with, I refused to listen (and still do). I personally believe that I can achieve whatever I set my mind to. The key is in how I achieve it. Used to be I'd go from point a to point b in a straight line. Well I can't do that anymore. I still get to point b, I just make a few twists and turns along the way.

    Hang in there.

    "C"
  • I think your doctor should order an MRI; the regular CT doesn't quite catch everything. Did they every mention any degeneration in your L4-S1 discs? It's not uncommon to have that accompanied by bulging discs, in my experience. I have both in my cervical and thoracic region, and more extensive problems in the lumbar. I had a microdiscectomy for L4-5 herniation last year, and this year I had a 2 level fusion from L4-S1 for recurrent L4-5 herniation, L5-S1 disc bulge compressing the nerve and severe DDD, L4-5 vertebral slippage, and facet joint arthropathy.
    Just like Haglandc said, we have no idea how things will turn out for you, and we can only hope for the best. Take care
  • meydey321 said:
    I think your doctor should order an MRI; the regular CT doesn't quite catch everything.
    I agree 100%.

    It's quite possible that it's an herniated disc. In which case a Neurosurgeon would recommend a Microdiscectomy. Just a guess of course.

    I think you've covered most of these already, but here are some non surgical options:
    stretching
    ice
    injections
    continued chiro adjustments 12-24 visits
    pain meds
    accupuncture

    But none of that is likely to work if you're past the 6 week mark. You need that MRI.

    Stay positive. Odds are you will be fine.

    ~~~
    3/27/08 L5-S1 Microdiscectomy
    6/27/08 L5-S1 Microdiscectomy

    Current Status = Re-reherniated. Next surgery:
    12/01/08 L5-S1 Microdiscectomy



  • Thanks for your replies.

    The physio made a follow up call this afternoon since our first appointment last friday. Because I've resigned from work, I'm able to take extra care with my back. I went for a half hour walk this morning, trying my best to walk correctly (opposed to my old posture) and by the end I was surprisingly ok. It had flared up to some degree, but the pain was minimal and receded fairly quickly after 15 minutes rest. I went straight to the pool afterwards and did a number of laps doing a basic froggy paddle style swimming because I feel it bends my back in a good way and hence I imagine the muscles I want to strengthen are working. That further relaxed me and when I got home I just lay down mostly which kept me almost painfree.


    I described to my physio that I was feeling comfortable (keeping in mind I completely restrict myself from as much forward bending as possible as that shoots pain down my leg right away) and told him that compared ot a normal day at work I was in heaven. But I expressed my concern that after sitting for an hour I was in a lot of pain again and wanted ot know if I can ever achieve being able to comfortably sit for longer periods.

    He said that because I'm currently in an acute stage, we need to get the pain and possible inflammation under control. Meaning, relaxing and avoiding all things that irritate it so that healing and regrowth can properly occur without interference. And that sparked some hope in me. I'm going to buy a laptop computer so I can avoid sitting even moreso (though ironically, the drive to this physio is 1.5 hrs up and 1.5hrs back, but I use a lumbar pillow now and know to take breaks).

    Is a herniated disc different than a bulged disc? Worse or better?

    I notice in your signatures that you've undergone a number of surgical procedures. Were these successful? How reliable are they? Is it something I shuold consider, or should I continue (the only recently started) 4-6 week recovery process suggested by my physio. I would like to avoid surgery as much as possible, so it's probably best that I try the physio's way first. Im just afraid of doing more permanent damage to my spine.

    Also, were your L4-5 S1 bulges or herniated discs, and were they considered mild or major? How are you feeling right now?

    Cheers again for the replies.
  • Matthys said:
    Thanks for your replies.
    Is a herniated disc different than a bulged disc? Worse or better?
    I'd say herniation is worse, in that it's more likely to hurt and less likely to go away. Here ya go:
    A bulging disk does look different from a herniated disk. A bulging disk is one in which the outer layers (annulus fibrosis) of the disk simply bulge into the spinal canal. The bulging typically affects a large portion of the disk. Bulging disks are more common than herniated disks and usually cause no pain.

    In contrast, a herniated disk is one in which the inner part of the disk (nucleus pulposus) has leaked out of the disk through a crack in the annulus fibrosis. This is also referred to as a ruptured disk or slipped disk. The typical appearance of a herniated disk on imaging studies is a small area of the disk hanging out into the spinal canal. Herniated disks are less common and may cause pain.

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bulging-disk/AN00272
    Matthys said:
    Also, were your L4-5 S1 bulges or herniated discs, and were they considered mild or major? How are you feeling right now?
    My Re-reherniation is at L5-S1. I'm somewhere in between mild and major. My 1st & 2nd time involved a good amount of nerve compression. It doesn't happen to be as bad this time. No pain meds required, thankfully.
    Matthys said:
    I notice in your signatures that you've undergone a number of surgical procedures. Were these successful? How reliable are they? Is it something I shuold consider, or should I continue (the only recently started) 4-6 week recovery process suggested by my physio. I would like to avoid surgery as much as possible, so it's probably best that I try the physio's way first. Im just afraid of doing more permanent damage to my spine.
    Most Microdiscectomy’s are successful. Over 90%. Those of us with multiple Micro's, reherniated the disc at some point. It's not that the surgery failed per say, IMHO. In my case I am genetically predisposed to reherniation (& herniation of course). Plenty of wear and tear over the years as well. Though there was no specific injury for any of my herniation. They just appeared like a deer in the headlights. :)

    My advice to you is to GET AN MRI and have a neurosurgeon look at it. If it’s bulging or it’s a small herniation that is still attached, then it could go away with time and treatment. You are young after all. However, if the piece is detached, then surgery may be your best bet. I think you should continue with your Physio. You should be okay damage wise. But I think we’re guessing without an MRI.

    Good luck to you.

    __________________
    36 years old
    3/27/08 L5-S1 Microdiscectomy
    6/27/08 L5-S1 Microdiscectomy

    Current Status = Re-reherniated. Next surgery:
    12/01/08 L5-S1 Microdiscectomy

  • Matthys said:




    Is a herniated disc different than a bulged disc? Worse or better?


    Also, were your L4-5 S1 bulges or herniated discs, and were they considered mild or major? How are you feeling right now?

    Cheers again for the replies.
    in my mri i had 2 herniations. l4-l5 and l5-S1. according to the report i had a small herniation in my left side where i had pain, and a huge herniation severely pinching my right nerve root. but mysteriously there was no pain in my right. every doctor i went to asked if i had pain in the right leg.

    some people have herniated discs and have no pain. some people have normal mris and have severe back pain.

  • Hey,

    I am seeing my physio again tomorrow afternoon. I'll ask him if I should investigate whether I have a herniation rather than a buldged disc. I'll also ask about what exercises I can do to specifically target my 'core' that won't aggravate my condition and mention the terms used above.

    I've now got the freedom to spend my time as I choose, so I want to do as much as I can to help the problem, but as BJ mentioned, to not overdo it.

    Thanks for your support guys, I feel a little alone in this as noone around me knows the pain I have experienced, they think I'm overreacting or exagerating, and my GP (who doesn't specialize in back issues) said my problem is irriversable except through surgery and that pain management would be my best option. You guys have shown me that I have hope in beating this problem with perseverance and dedication.. so I'll give it exactly that.

    Regards,

    Matt.
  • I feel for ya brother. I started doing concrete 10 years ago when I was 16. I started packing wall panels for 6.50 an hour and just went from there. Started getting into flat work and operating machinery and then started finishing concrete with a slick finish. My back is horrible now. I believe the major injury was when I was packing a pair of 9' wall panels that weigh an easy 80-100lbs. a piece into a hole 20ft. deep into the ground. Anyway, last guy I was working for fed everyone 2 hydros a day (one in the morning and one at lunch) so we wouldnt notice any pain. He also smoked pot with everyone so noone could get workmans comp. Long story short, i dont do concrete anymore. Ive had 3 x-rays and one MRI. I have a slipped AND cracked L5, multiple herniated discs and arthritis....all lower spine. I get 120 pain pills a month and frankly.....im tired of taking them. I get to see a new doctor on august 6th.....hopefully something will be done.

    I hope you get better bud and my only advice is to lift with your legs. My insurance did pick up a new backbrace for me....cost was $1076.68. No way I could have paid for that. You should look in to it cause it sure does help me alot!!!!!

    Jaykesdad
  • I have heard that drinking lots of water helps the healing process (repairing / rehydrating the disk nucleus) as most of the nucleus is water. Also that you should eat lots of raw vegetables to up your nutrient intake since the disk nucleus are nutrient rich. Boiling vegetables removes a lot of the nutrients in vegetables. Not sure if this hydration and high nutirient intake to help heal the disk are true but on the chance that it does, why not do it.

    JFF7
  • Well I'm David and I'm 30yrs young and I suffered an injury at work on march 29 ,2011 and I'm still out of work due to that injury. My injury consist of an L4,L5, bulging disk and so far they are at 3mm each and I also have a pinched nerv on the S1. My question is what's my Next step if I already went thru therapy chiropractors and meds? Do you think surgury is my next step? Should I be worried? Will I ever b ok again? I'm tiered of the meds and I want answer. Any suggestions? HELP PLEASE. And how concerned should I be?
  • Well I'm David and I'm 30yrs young and I suffered an injury at work on march 29 ,2011 and I'm still out of work due to that injury. My injury consist of an L4,L5, bulging disk and so far they are at 3mm each and I also have a pinched nerv on the S1. My question is what's my Next step if I already went thru therapy chiropractors and meds? Do you think surgury is my next step? Should I be worried? Will I ever b ok again? I'm tiered of the meds and I want answer. Any suggestions? HELP PLEASE. And how concerned should I be?
  • Well I'm David and I'm 30yrs young and I suffered an injury at work on march 29 ,2011 and I'm still out of work due to that injury. My injury consist of an L4,L5, bulging disk and so far they are at 3mm each and I also have a pinched nerv on the S1. My question is what's my Next step if I already went thru therapy chiropractors and meds? Do you think surgury is my next step? Should I be worried? Will I ever b ok again? I'm tiered of the meds and I want answer. Any suggestions? HELP PLEASE. And how concerned should I be?
  • Sir, the report of MRI suggest:- IMPRESSION MRI Study reveals

    * L4-5 intervertebral disc diffuse annular bulge with mild indentation of thecal sac. No obvious nerve root compression.

    Much difficult to move from point to point/place to place ie walking difficulty. There is pain and dragging nervous in the lower parts of legs (both.) Please help me to do any clinical treatment for the same.

    For the last few years I am having this difficulty.

    Also what is mean by this MRI report?

    =D> =D>

    jagadish12000@yahoo.com Trivandrum 17/12/2011
  • jagdish - did you see a Dr to talk about what this report means for you?

    That is your best bet. Talk to him/her and see what they say and what they suggest to do.

    Are you been given anything for your pain?

    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • what does mild facet arthropathy and minimal disc bulging at the l4-l5 and l5-s1 levels mean
  • Hey there Matt, just logged in and read part of your story and thought I'd give you some encouragement.Your story sounds similar to mine. I was young when I injured my back (28) and work in the computer field (graphic design, lots of sitting). Like you, I really was eager in my job, but could barely do much of anything with the amount of pain I was in. It was, by far, the worst pain I've ever felt. And not only that, the pain was non stop and made my life a living hell.

    The good news. No surgery, but lots of core strengthening and decompression (ie hanging upside down from my feet) and about 1.5 years later I can say I'm lots better. I still have my good days and bad, but the horrendous, life altering pain that I started with are gone. I still consider surgery at times, but I can say my life is much better than before.

    Hang in there man and keep us updated

  • gabiddggabidd Posts: 4
    edited 07/16/2014 - 3:37 AM
    Hello,

    I'm in the same situation. I have 3 herniated discs, which shrink-ed in dimension in time (first 8 months). I would like to sit several hours in order to work, but sitting puts me in a worse condition. Can you please, tell me how you solved this problem?

    Thank you
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