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My PT's opinion and yours?

tarheelgirlttarheelgirl Posts: 473
Hi there!

I am just wondering...and praying and wishing my PT would be right about my back. I have a newly diagnosed slipped L5-S1 disc and this pain is excruciating! I'm sure you all understand it...but its tough to describe to people...its electrical, aching, burning, hurting, arthritic...all sorts of pain combined. I now feel pain 24 hours a day after a big flair up about 2 months back. Prior to that, I just felt it come and go and it did not hurt bad, nor all the time...sometimes just a twinge. The first time feeling it was several years ago during a pregnancy, but it went away after I delivered...then re-appreared months later. So, basically off and on until now it's constant and I have MRI confirmation.

My PT (maybe he forgot my history?) said this can heal within a week or it can take months. But, I was intrigued that he said some people come in hunched over from injury and then are healed after a few days. Is that a different type of problem? I wish that would happen! I am very faithful about doing my exercises at home...several times a day to try to put the disk back into space.

I guess I'm not as optimistic b/c I have 3 bulginge discs (cervical) that have given me problems for about 3-4 years. DDD. Is it really possible to pop the disc back in? Why don't I feel any relief doing all this PT? It's been about 3 weeks now in PT....

Thanks
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Comments

  • Hi, so sorry about all those surgeries! wow...

    My doc (a very conservative surgeon) said he is fairly confident it can heal, but it can take time...maybe months. My other pcp doc said months or longer, that some people realistically have problems longer (just being frank b/c of my cervical DDD and OA issues), but that some people heal within a month.

    I really think my PT had to be talking about someone who just "pulled their back out", don't you?
  • I think that would probably be someone with a realitively easy problem to fix who just hurt themselves not someone with a long history of back problems.i know that bulges can resolve themselves and shrink back into place and some can be coaxed back by a therapist but it does take lots of time and effort.My therapist told me once that it could take up to a year of therapy to get relief from a disc that has gone out of place. :O so i wouldn't say a few weeks is going to do a lot to help the problem.
  • In my own opinion, i've never heard of being healed in weeks from a slipped disc. I too had bulging disc in L5/S1 and didn't require much treatment until a couple of years ago. Before that, I would have a flare up once a year and would go to the chiro for 2-4 months 2-3 times per week until I felt better and then I would be ok until the next year when I would flare up again. Maybe he/she just meant you could feel better until your next flare up (hopefully you don't have one). I tried PT before surgery when my last "flare up" didn't go away like the others did. I did it for 4 months and my back seemed to get worse. Some exercises would flare me up so bad I had a hard time even getting off the table. They would have to do massages and ultrasounds until my muscle would relax and I could stand up again. I tried all other methods before surgery and surgery didn't seem to "fix" me either.

    In my opinion, if you aren't feeling releif from doing PT that long I would get a second or third opinion from ortho and/or neuro or consult with your primary.
  • Did you get a clinical diagnosis or is it the PT telling you the disc is "slipped?" A "slipped disc" is just a general term that laymen use to talk about several different kinds of spinal problems. A disc either bulges or ruptures. A disc is a soft, contained, interior "filling" sandwiched between two bony vertebrae. Either condition can heal on its own, but I can't imagine it happening within a week or two. It is usually more like 6 months, or longer...but one can usually resume more-or-less "normal" activities within a month or six weeks...followed by months of careful monitoring and devoted effort to improving core strength, etc.

    You cannot "pop" a disc back into place. Think of it as a water balloon. It changes shape as pressure is put upon it in different locations. If too much pressure is applied, it can pop, and the water will squish out.

    With a disc, it can bulge or it can rupture, when the interior filling can leak out. You cannot put this "filling" back into the disc. Eventually the disc can heal over and the extraneous filling will be absorbed by the body.

    I would not think a heavy dose of activities would be good at this point. The disc is likely pushing against a nerve which causes most of the pain. Inflammation becomes a problem. It is difficult to do the exercises until the inflammation is somewhat under control. Bed rest is no longer recommended for any injury of the back, but you don't want to overdo it either.

    Do you have pain in your leg or is it in your lower back?
  • I was hoping as well as my Doctor that this backpain would be gone in a few months but it's been almost 11 months since being off work and I'm not getting better. Most people with a herniated disc heal within months but there are some that don't heal for longer. Do you have a pain management Dr? I hope you feel better soon. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to me. My disc is bulging by MRI, not ruptured. I have incredible pain to the right of my spine and sciatic area going to the back of my knee and causing muscle spasms in the calf and foot. The surgeon (ortho) said it could take months, my pcp who is acting as my PM says at least months, but the PT who works for ortho told me some heal in a week. I was just wondering (and it would be nice to be one of the fortunate ones) but was skeptical b/c I have 3 cervical bulging discs and it took years for the pain to be better. I have been doing my PT exercises just as instucted and no hlep. :S
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