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Herniated lumbar disc - recovery time

Harmonic MinorHHarmonic Minor Posts: 31
edited 05/13/2014 - 9:21 AM in Lower Back Pain

Hello all,

Late last year, I suffered an injury to my lower back which was 'diagnosed' by a doctor as simply a back strain that would go away quickly with some stretching, and he advised keeping active and playing sport. This I did and my condition got much better, I was able to play sport and run within a couple of months like before, but I still had pain, especially an almighty stiffness in the morning. It felt good to play sport and run, and the discomfort was mostly when sitting or when lying for a long time. I am 18 years old.

However, my condition worsened in mid-March (just over 3 months after initial injury thereabouts) after a weekend of heavy sport and I had clear signs of sciatica in my left leg. Losing faith in the doctors and my GP, I went to a chiropractor who diagnosed a herniated disc, I think L-5 S-1, although he said it is relatively minor. I didn't go for an MRI. That was 4 weeks ago. I got treatment twice a week, then once a week now it will be once a fortnight as I seem to have made good progress.

I am wondering how long a disc injury like this may take to heal so I can begin playing sports again? I have asked my chiropractor and he just says 'when it is better - don't rush it', but is it possible to aim for a certain amount of time? It has been 4 weeks and my condition has improved a lot. The sciatica died down within a week of treatment (it was bad on the first day, very inflamed too) but I still have it now - and I get worried because I expect it to disappear any time but it doesn't seem to. I get a twinge in my calf and hamstring from time to time, although I appreciate it could be a lot worse. Some days I don't feel it at all, so when I do start feeling it, I panic, and think it might be getting worse. I think most of all I fear a relapse, and just want it to get better.

It does feel much better overall, I have less trouble with my mobility (easier to put socks on, get in and out of bed, far less stiff in the morning) and the pain is very bearable, and I never took pain killers. At this very moment all I can feel is a twinge at the bottom of my left calf. I can walk fine, although it does get a little uncomfortable. My chiropractor does a leg raise which shows there is much less nerve impingement (raises very nearly as high as my right when lying down) and I can bend forward a fair bit without much pain. Initially my chiropractor said 6-8 weeks with no sport but I don't think I could physically run at the moment. I'm hoping to be better in 4-6 weeks and be able to play sport again, but is this too ambitious?

I get very paranoid (considering I have been suffering with back problems for around 5 months now), and I know my condition could be much worse with this type of injury, but based on my symptoms is it likely it is only minor? Can a more serious disc injury also have mild symptoms? When I first got sciatica I actually woke up with it, and it was 2-3 days AFTER I played any sport, so it was not something sudden, and I didn't feel my back 'go'. Am I simply getting too far ahead of myself and expecting the sciatica to disappear completely too soon? When and how does sciatica generally begin to disappear? What sort of signs shall I look for, in general? And what should I avoid doing to make it worse (apart from sport, impact exercise and lifting of course). At the moment I ice it around 4 times a day, generally after I do some exercises my chiropractor gave me. I usually walk about 3 miles a day too. Lying down on a firm mattress on my side is very comfortable (tends to alleviate symptoms if I have any at that point) and I sleep okay. Sitting can get quite uncomfortable (although I am used to keeping my back straight by now) - although can certain types of chairs be bad for this?

I really hope I can make a full recovery without any complications and would love to be able to play sport in the next month or two as summer is coming. I have been active all my life and would dread not being able to play sport and run like I used to. Thank you very much for reading and good luck to everyone with these back problems!

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Comments

  • As you can see, many people have read your post but no one has answered so far. It might be because you have asked about 30 questions that do not really have an exact answer! First, none of us really have a clue what is causing your pain and I don't see how your chiro does either without any imaging studies. Chances are it is a disc problem but you could also have a spondylolisthesis (a slippage) that could not be diagnosed without X-ray. We will assume you do not for these purposes, and that you have a bulging disc....

    First, a herniated disc can come on very slowly -- so slowly that the patient thinks he has pulled a muscle or maybe strained something while doing some everyday activity. Very few are actually one of those "A HA" moments where you KNOW you have injured yourself.

    For now, while you are trying to get the disc to heal and the nerves to calm down, I would suggest you avoid any activities that involve bending, or extending you back, twisting, lifting and reaching (like stretching overhead to get something out of a high cupboard), Avoid anything that jars or vibrates the spine. Drink LOTS of water. If you can, several times a day lie flat on the floor, no pillow, or a teeny one under head if you must, knees bent with feet flat on floor. Put your arms out to your sides close to your legs with palms facing up. Breathe deeply and let all your muscles really let go and relax. Do this for about 5-10 minutes at a time. This position is a type of "traction" that allows the soft tissue surrounding the spine to let go and for the discs to unload. It helps the discs to escape the push of gravity for a little while and it is overall very beneficial.

    I cannot say how long you need to wait...give it as long as you can. And then please try to start SLOWLY back into your sport and activities. Don't go from being barely able to walk to running a mini-marathon, for example. Slowly increase your activities...and back off at the first sign of a flare up. Keep using ice and hopefully you'll be back on your feet in no time!

    An injured disc can heal on its own. The time involved depends on the severity of the injury, how your body functions, how young you are (definitely in your favor), etc.

    The problem for some people who are physical active and play sports, work out, etc., that think they are in terrific shape, is that they often have overly developed part of their body to the exclusion of another part. After a disc problem, it is important to work very hard to evenly develop the core muscles that support the spine -- those on the back as well as those on the front. With a disc problem it is easy to unconsciously favor one side of the body, which quickly evolves into a lop-sided situation.

    Regarding other things you can do: it is important to be aware of learning and using good body mechanics at all times. Work on maintaining "good" posture, both while standing and sitting. If you sit at a computer for long hours, be sure your work station is well designed...again so you can maintain good posture while seated. Overstuffed furniture is not the best place for you to sit. Try to limit car trips for now. If you must drive or ride a long distance, try to get out and stretch often.

    Otherwise you just need to be vigilant about what you are doing -- probably things you used to take for granted. The worst things a person with a disc problem can do is anything that involves a twisting motion while you are also pulling or pushing. As a matter of fact things like raking, gardening and pushing a vacuum are not great on the back!

    The sad truth of the matter is that if a person plays contact sports in their younger years, they will probably pay the price in decades to come. The back is not designed to withstand impact.

    So, I hope I gave you a few answers to your questions. Good luck. I hope you heal quickly and can get back to doing the activities you love.
  • I thik your Dr should order an MRI for a diagnosis. I would also get an Ortho referral. There is also things the Pain Management Dr can do to help you speed up your recovery of the herniated disc. I would also take caution in returning to rough sports without strengthening your core muscles and using a lumber support while doing these sports to protect your back and prevent a possible reinjuring. It's been 14 months I've been out of work after finding the source of my pain being herniated L5-S1. After having my 5th epidural and facet joint injections I've just walked around the block without my cane. The 2nd block my foot was giving me problems so I took my cane. So I've had a herniated disc 14 months without surgery and just now think I'm making a recovery but I still feel unable to work. Everyone heals at different times. Everyone is unique. I found this website helpful but also read his disclaimer. www.chirogeek.com None of us are Drs and can only give you our experience in healing. A Dr usually does the right thing for your healing but it's good to remind them if you feel you need something like an MRI and a EMG. Good luck. 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
  • Yes, sorry about all the questions. But I feel I have so many, especially due to the uncertain nature of this injury! I just wish I could know for certain that this injury will heal, and in good time, but I guess I just have to wait and hope and prepare myself mentally for it.

    Well my chiropractor said in our first session after examining me that he thinks it's a minor herniated disc, stating that he couldn't 'see anything else that could cause the symptoms'. I've done a fair bit of reading around the topic and suggested to him the possibility of piriformis involvement but he seems pretty sure it's a disc.Ah so is spondylolisthesis something different to a herniated disc? Because I see some people referring to it as a 'slipped disc' - is this a problem with the positioning of the spine/disc? My chiro gives me the impression he knows what he's doing and has treated these before, and my progress has been quite good so far. He makes it appear straight forward but I tend to worry about it and wish I could know more about the details of my recovery!

    Yes - he said the disc could be bulging 'like a tire' or perhaps have a small crack in it, but he doesn't think it's anything major. Yes I see, it did come on gradually and I thought it something entirely muscular at the time. I'm kicking myself because I knew all about herniated discs but the doctors I had seen before were quick to rule out any disc involvement without a proper examination or scan.

    Thanks you very much for the suggestions and advice, gwennie =). At the moment I do three exercises, generally three times a day, 15 of each. The first I lay on my back, knees bent as you described, and slowly move my knees (rolling hips gently) to each side, pausing for a second at the bottom. The second I lay on my stomach, arms under chest and push myself up gently and pause for a second at the top. Third is on all fours, extending right arm/left leg and vice versa horizontally. I always ice after doing them.

    Yes I will get back into activities slowly, and if I ever make it to the other side and beat my back pain I'll surely be very kind to my back from now on!

    Do you think it is necessary for me to get an MRI, charry? I would certainly like to, but I don't know if my doctor will send me for one. The only doctor I'm seeing right now (for treatment) is the chiropractor, I didn't go back to my GP - I kinda lost faith in their service. And I hear MRI's can be pricey, or you have to wait months. What sort of things, to speed up recovery? My chiro just says I can encourage it to heal by not exerting myself or rushing it.

    I'm very sorry to hear about your injury, and wish you luck with your recovery.

    I think what is worrying me most is the sciatica. It has always been quite mild and I don't know if I'm imagining that it's getting worse. I've mentioned it to my chiro but he said he didnt see any signs of worsening and that it is improving, so much so that he has made the sessions once per 2 weeks (since I saw him Tuesday this past week). It just seems that my condition got better quickest in the first 2-3 weeks and ever since then it's been slowing down, and I expect the sciatica to go (and sometimes it IS/WAS absent), but then it kicks in.

    Right now I can feel it at the bottom of my calf, a tingling, almost like an itch. And in general today it has been irritating me in my hamstring, and especially right at the base of my glute. I went for a walk and it felt completely normal in the first 5-10 mins or so and then I felt it kick in slightly in my hamstrings, but it didn't get worse from then on. It seems either I have the pain in my back (to the left, just above my buttock) or it's in my leg. To be fair I can't remember exactly how bad the sciatica was at first, but I don't think it has improved that much.

    Maybe I should stop using the scaitic pain as a reference for the recovery process? Is it always likely to be problematic during the healing process? It's just if my leg is hurting, that means the disc is still bulging enough to touch and irritate the nerve.

    I think an MRI would be a good idea. I'll mention it to my chiropractor when I next see him, depending on my condition then.

    Thank you both for your posts
  • I would encourage you to see your regular GP and get an MRI. I would also get a 2nd opinion from an Ortho or Neuro Dr and your GP can order that. Also I take lyrica for the tingling and if I didn't have meds I would be off the deep end. An Ortho or Neuro has more experience than a Chiro and I would see one maybe for another reason but for a bulging disk you need to take caution. It's always good to have a 2nd opinion. Take care. 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
  • I'll definitely consider seeing a GP, and I'll see how my condition is in a week or two. Shall I simply book an appointment with the GP and say 'I want an MRI' and 'I want to see a Neuro?' because it seems there's no guarantee getting either while my symptoms are mild.

    Speaking of teagling right now I've started getting a tingling in my foot, which I have never had before, at least not to this degree. Although calf and hamstrings feel okay. How come I need to take caution with a chiro for a bulging disc? I appreciate the advice to get a second opinion, I will definitely consider it! Thanks. But is the sciatica generally not a good way to measure how well the disc is healing?

    EDIT: definite tingling/ pins and needles in left foot now, getting really worried =(
  • You'll find that many of us on the board are not big fans of chiropractic. It can be dangerous to be treated when the source of your pain is unknown. Without further imaging, your chiro does not know what is going on in your spine. At best, he is "guessing" based on his training and experiences with other patients.

    Sciatic pain is not necessarily related to a disc herniation or other disc injury. There are other reasons for sciatic pain, which is a symptom of a problem in the spine, such as stenosis or spondylolisthesis.

    The tingling in your foot is a sign of nerve compression. Is it on the outside of your foot? Big toe? Little toe?
  • Spondylolisthesis is not a problem of a disc. It is when one vertebra slips forward in relation to the adjacent vertebra. It can be a condition one is born with; it sometimes develops in late teens, early twenties, especially among gymnists, divers and others who spend a lot of time bending backwards with their back in extension...and it can be a result of degenerative conditions.

    You may have heard people talking about one vertebra slipping over the adjoining one -- but it is not a "slipped disc." It can cause a basic instability to the spine. It can cause a narrowing of the spinal canal which usually results in a compressed nerve or nerves.
  • My whole left foot seems to be tingling, as well as the heel. It's not so prominent in the toes, but if any big toe. I have never had this before, and my whole body doesn't feel right, and I'm shaking. I tried to go to sleep but I'm having trouble doing so. I have no idea why, I didn't do anything out of the ordinary today. I'm getting really panicky now and don't know what to do - is there anything I might do now that might make it worse? I think I'll have to wait until monday til I can see a doctor. I just can't see what could have happened, my recovery seemed to be going well. =( I've looked into spondylolisthesis and that does sound a possibility - but can a condition like that worsen suddenly, if misdiagnosed?

    Thanks for your advice!
  • Yes -- try not to panic. When you do, your muscles will become tighter and it will make your symptoms worse. Chances are extremely good that you are not in any medical emergency. Pain from any sort of back pain can feel like the end of the world, but the only medical emergency associated with a lumbar problem is when there is bladder or bowel involvement. If that were to happen, you would want to contact your doctor right away, or go to the emergency room if you cannot reach the doctor.

    I suppose it is possible that a condition like spondy could suddenly worsen, but it is not likely or common. I suppose a vertebra could suddenly shift and it could pinch a nerve but I would be surprised if that's what is happening with you.

    By the way, tingling and/or numbness is not an emergency. It is scary when it happens, but it is a symptom that something is amiss. Probably half the people on the board have tingling at any given time!! One simple simple diagnostic test any doc will give you is to walk across the exam room on your toes, and then back on your heels. Can you do that?

    I think maybe you're having a little panic attack from being worried. I would suggest that you lie flat on the floor, no pillow, or, if you must, a very small pillow under your head, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Arms close to the body with palms facing upward toward the ceiling. Concentrate on your breathing -- try to make it slow and deep and "follow" the breath in and then back out. Train all your attention on your breathing. Try to lie there for about 10 minutes at a time. This is a form of natural traction that helps the muscles and soft tissue around the spine to relax -- and it allows the discs to unload. I do this whenever my back starts to bother me.

    Try not to worry. I think you're getting worried from everything you've read on the board. For most people sciatic pain comes and goes and does not develop into anything worse.

    Hope you're able to get some sleep.

    xx Gwennie
  • I managed to get some sleep last night although not much, woke up quite early. It feels much better this morning although the sciatica still feels somewhat abnormal - a little bit of the tingling in my foot/bottom of calf. I can walk across the room on my toes and heels fine. I tried relaxing and it definitely helps. =)

    I'm feeling so terrible at the moment, I've had these back problems for what seems like an eternity and I can't even say for sure what the matter is! Summer is like a month away too and I can't even run =(. Problem is I can't see a doctor until Tues, being a bank holiday tomorrow.

    Strangely my back feels okay, it's just the sciatica acting up. My mobility (getting in/out of bed, moving around etc) is definitely better than 4 weeks ago. The sciatica as I said was first most in hamstring. Then it dropped off and was pretty mild (couldn't feel if lay down). Then last week it was mostly a mild burning in the calf. Now it's moved down to the foot! Could this mean anything? Could it just be a slight hiccup in the healing process? I really hope so.

    Thank you for your support. Oh and Happy Easter! x
  • Ooops, double post!

    EDIT: I managed to walk around well enough today, even if a little uncomfortably. Still a bit of pain at base of calf and in foot, but nothing too major and didn't cause me too much problem. But like I said I somehow just feel strange and not quite right. I couldn't have 2 bulging discs in my back, could I? I've tried looking up information on this but I can't find anything to explain why my symptoms might have suddenly changed in this manner. I just don't know what to do anymore and have had enough of this pain and not being able to do anything =(. I know it could be worse, but it's pure hell not knowing what's wrong with you and not knowing whether you'll play sports agin like before.
  • I will have to agree with Gwennie.You need to relax.Stress only can worsen your pain.To answer your question about bulging discs,yes,there could be more than one.But even the
    "brilliant" chiro can't diagnose this without seeing it on MRI.Much less a herniated disc.For all you know,your doctor could have been right about the muscle strain.Sometimes it can take a long time for muscle to heal.
    So,walk as much as you can,take hot showers to relax your muscles and stretch gently,if you can.Tue is almost here.Go see your doctor.Have a MRI,if warranted and,go from there.
    Take a deep breath and relax!

    Cheers,G.
  • Your chiro is just guessing that your disc problem is minor. Only a MRI can show how large and possible impingement on the sciatic nerve. As Gwennie mentioned, I am one of the people who don't think Chiro should not treat patients with disc problems. I had five sessions who treated me for my sciatic pain and left me in worse pain. My Chiro didn't even look at my MRI films which showed the bulging disc. They took more x-rays which don't show disc problems. When my pain doctor learned about the chiropractic treatments, she advised me to stop and seek physical therapy instead. Also, she referred me to an orthopedic surgeon because I has been in pain for over 6 months and my pain was escalating.

    Good luck!
  • A Chiro can order an MRI why isn't he ordering it? Your best bet is getting a GP to see and assess you and order the MRI for the scialtica and back pain. My sciatica goes to the top of my foot and down the calf too and sometimes muscle spasms in the calf. Sciatic pain goes all over my leg but right now it's the top of my crease of the foot and leg and numb on the bottom of my foot. I hope you're pain doesn't get worse or the tingling. It doesn't mean you'll need surgery. I haven't had surgery but I've seen more than one Specialist. I wish you all the best for next week and hope you can see a GP or ask the Chiro for an MRI. Take care. 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
  • Your chiro is just guessing that your disc problem is minor. MRI can show how the large the bulging disc is and possible impingement on the sciatic nerve. As Gwennie mentioned, I am one of the people who doesn't think Chiro should not treat patients with disc problems. I had five sessions that left me in worse pain. My Chiro didn't even look at my MRI films which showed the bulging disc. They took more x-rays which don't show disc problems. When my pain doctor learned about the chiropractic treatments, she advised me to stop and seek physical therapy instead. Also, she referred me to an orthopedic surgeon because I has been in pain for over 6 months and my pain was escalating.

    Good luck!
  • The tingling in my foot has started to drop off, which is good, and is mostly a mild tingling at the end of my big toe. Went to see my chiropractor today. Had booked a session for next week, but I went in today and explained the symtoms that arose over the weekend. He said it's probably just a minor setback and the disc has probably just been aggravated, and it could have been from anything - twisting or bending irregularly for example. Did the leg raise test, my left is still nearly as high as right, but tighter than last week. Got treatment, and he said he's happy with it for now. His original diagnosis was L4-L5, and that is consistent with nerve tingling in the large toe. If it had been it little toe, I think that may hve been a different story, because that is L5-S1, right?

    Anyway, I'm going to leave my back in the care of the chiropractor for now. I understand an MRI would be desirable, but either I pay a ridiculous amount or wait for ages with the useless NHS, and that's assuming I actually convince them I need one. Remember my chiro said he 'can't see anything else causing the symptoms' but a disc. Sure, it could be stenosis or spondy, but I'm sure he's ruled those out from the examination. My spine is much straighter now from first sessions (was bent towards right away from pain), and doesn't spondy cause great discomfort with BACKWARDS bending, for example? I trust he'd be able to recognise those conditions. Obviously I don't know the extent of the disc bulge, but the fact that my symptoms have been relatively mild and I can walk and I'm not in terrible pain suggests it is somewhat minor, right?

    Thanks
  • Stop playing around with this from one who knows all to well. go see a Neurosurgeon and an Orthopedic surgeon now. Make sure the Neuro orders an MRI and goes over the results and images with you. DO NOT place the future of your back on a Chiro who is guessing and frankly can really screw you up. I have had a fusion of L5-S1 a Laminectomy of L3 and L4 and a very recent discectomy on L2 with spinal stenosis since 1986 thank you very little :). My fusion surgeon told me if I ever saw a chiro he would beat the you know what outame :) FWIW.
    GriMacE - for a reason
  • I'm not playing around, but my experience with NHS services here in the UK have been atrocious, that's why I went to a private chiropractor. To be honest, I think he's more than 'guessing', my symptoms have been completely consistent with a L4/L5 herniation. Why do I need to see a surgeon when most disc issues resolve with conservative treatment? Are you suggesting I may need surgery? Getting an MRI is easier said than done, although I would like one of course, but the wait would be huge.

    I appreciate your advice and am considering it. So, you think I should see a GP and try impress on him/her to send me for MRI? Because like I said, that will be ages away. Medical professionals will discourage you from going to different ones, like my chiropractor told me not to go back to physiotherapy (which DID screw me up - i could run fine before, then with all the stretching and bad advice to play sports, I developed sciatica, and this was after I'd complained about a noticable pain in the left side of my back/just above buttock for 3 weeks prior). I've got to take into consideration that my back HAS improved from 5 weeks ago.

    If you insist, I'll get an appointment with my GP tomorrow, and push for an MRI/orthopedic, but I don't think you've been considering everything I've said!

  • I wish we had a place to list our country under our screen name because advice would be different, at least when it comes to seeking treatment. We here in the US are used to demanding an MRI from anyone with a MD after his/her name, and we usually can get it within a week or less. After having read several different boards for about four years, I now realize how different things are in the UK, although I must admit, I still don't really understand the system...and I gather Britain is different from Canada....

    Anyway, hopefully chiropractic in the UK is more reliable than what it is in the U.S. Here we would not advise anyone with a potentially serious back ailment to go to a chiropractor because SOME, (not ALL) are more than eager to treat without knowing the source of the pain...and of course they think that most ailments are a result of the spine being out of alignment some where...so sometimes they really cause more harm than good. At best, it can be a waste of time and money.

    I would just like to mention that most doctors do those standardized neurological tests to try to determine if there is a disk problem or a nerve issue, etc. In my case, my doctor would not believe that I had any problems because I have always been flexible and he could lift my leg up straight without me squealing. Turns out, I did have some major problems...I was just flexible!! So do not put all your trust in those little office tests.

    However, why don't you continue doing what you're doing for a couple weeks. Rest and cut down on big activities and see where you are then. It doesn't sound like it will hurt for you to wait for a couple weeks to see what develops.

    Gotta run -- I'm off to see my surgeon for a "what do we do next" meeting!

    xx Gwennie
  • Yep, I think it does differ greatly depending on where you are. I personally think the NHS here in the UK is a joke, unless you're in an emergency or have a straight-forward problem (like a broken arm that can be shoved in a cast) you're in trouble. Anything complicated and you're up shits creek without a certain instrument. When I saw a doctor back in December he said it was just a back strain without any real examination (so I continue heavy sports) and look what sorry path they have led me down. I've lost faith in NHS doctors. I spoke to one this Monday (not GP, since bank holiday monday) and he basically said, as this is a 'long-term' problem, it will be handled as such, and an MRI will be ages away. What use is that? And if I go private, an MRI could be hundreds of pounds - I'm an 18 year old student and my parents don't have that kind of money going spare. I am considering this though, if an MRI is that important, I may be able to find the money from somewhere, although it will hurt to do so.

    I appreciate chiropractors do have a somewhat bad reputation when it comes to these problems (at least in US as you say) but I don't think I have any reason to doubt my chiro at the moment, but I will see a GP tomorrow to push for a second opinion, it couldn't hurt. Otherwise I will stick with the chiro, what other choice do I have?

    I'm very sorry to hear that gwennie, I read your post in another thread explaining how you have spondylolisthesis. It sounds awful, I really hope you do get better. =) Thing is, my leg was extremely tight and couldn't be raised very high at first, now it is much freer, I can walk easier and faster, and it's just the damn tingling that has thrown everything into question. I still have it now, though not as bad before, and I hope it disappears in the next day or two. And I read spondy causes a lot of pain with backwards bending (due to sprain/fracture in spine causing vertebra to slip), but with me, it's forward bending that kills my back (although I can forward bend much better now, it was much worse at the start 5 weeks ago).

    My chiro has explained things to me, he does seem like he knows what he's doing (though I only have doctors/physio to compare it to) and I constantly ask questions regarding my condition, which he answers satisfactorily at least to me.

    Anyways, I'm not sure what to think anymore, but I suppose time will tell, like you say. I've not been doing any big activities to speak of really, just walking a few miles everyday, and I have been generally taking it easy, being careful not to aggravate it.

    Good luck with the surgeon, gwennie =)
  • I've been reading your story and I admit I was aghast when hearing you were diagnosed by a chiropractor, but understand how different health care is in the UK. I am concerned that your problem may progress and cause more pain and disability. Is it possible to get a ct? It's less expensive than an MRI. It would be better to have one to hopefully diagnose the exact problem, and get you on the road to better treatment.

    In my case the pain from the disc herniations was seriously impacting my daily life and kept me from performing my regular activities. The only way to find comfort was laying in bed because it hurt to sit, stand, and walk. Car rides were hell, take my word for it. Anyway it was apparent after I exhausted conservative measures (epidural injection, pain meds, pt) that my surgeon wanted to operate, and I did have a microdiscectomy in 2007. Unfortunately I rehernated a month later and developed problems like retrolisthesis (opposite of spondylisthesis). I went through a 2 level fusion in '08 and even still, the chronic back and nerve pain persisted. So that is how I am today and I also have permanent nerve damage and scar tissue to deal with. I spend most my time lately laying down.

    I don't want to scare you, but I want you to see this type of a scenario. Please take care of your back and don't play sports until you have been evaluated by a back specialist. I hope that you're one of the lucky few who can heal for example from a herniated disc in around 6 weeks and get back to a normal life gradually. Take care
  • meydey321 said:
    I've been reading your story and I admit I was aghast when hearing you were diagnosed by a chiropractor, but understand how different health care is in the UK. I am concerned that your problem may progress and cause more pain and disability.
    Yes, there seemed little option left but to seek private medical care. I saw a GP on the day I started getting sciatica, and she was talking about sending me back to physiotherapy which is what had worsened my problem in the first place.

    I appreciate your concern, but why exactly do you think I'm going to get worse?
    Is it possible to get a ct? It's less expensive than an MRI. It would be better to have one to hopefully diagnose the exact problem, and get you on the road to better treatment.
    It may be, and I'll look into it.
    In my case the pain from the disc herniations was seriously impacting my daily life and kept me from performing my regular activities. The only way to find comfort was laying in bed because it hurt to sit, stand, and walk. Car rides were hell, take my word for it. Anyway it was apparent after I exhausted conservative measures (epidural injection, pain meds, pt) that my surgeon wanted to operate, and I did have a microdiscectomy in 2007. Unfortunately I rehernated a month later and developed problems like retrolisthesis (opposite of spondylisthesis). I went through a 2 level fusion in '08 and even still, the chronic back and nerve pain persisted. So that is how I am today and I also have permanent nerve damage and scar tissue to deal with. I spend most my time lately laying down.
    I am extremely sorry to hear that. I really hope you find a way to improve your condition, what are you considering now? Good luck.
    I don't want to scare you, but I want you to see this type of a scenario. Please take care of your back and don't play sports until you have been evaluated by a back specialist.
    Well, you've definitely scared me. =P I will take care of my back, and I have no intention of playing sports right now. I will push to see a specialist. Did your condition worsen having not seen a specialist? Considering my symptoms have been relatively mild from the start that is.
    I hope that you're one of the lucky few who can heal for example from a herniated disc in around 6 weeks and get back to a normal life gradually. Take care
    If it healed in 6 weeks that'd be a dream. It's been about 5 weeks now and I don't know when it's going to get better. It has improved, but the symptoms have obviously changed recently so the signs have been mixed, though my chiropractor has explained that. The tingling in my foot is persisting though, so will have to see. And it does feel like something is amiss. It could be a case of it'll get worse before it gets better - it's never straight forward, right? But doesn't mean it's going to become severe.

    Thanks. But isn't recovery rate quite good for most herniated discs with conservative treatment? I read somewhere that most people do get better with time though, I hope I do. Good luck to you to, and thanks for the input. I'll definitely see a specialist if it's possible.
  • I'm sorry for scaring you and I hope it wasn't too bad. I just feel that you should get in with a specialist at you're earliest opportunity. If it is a herniated disc, the epidural injections can help with inflammation and pain and perhaps take away the pain for weeks to months at a time. There is a 50/50 chance it will work.

    Right now I'm waiting to see if I will be scheduled for a morphine pump trial. If it cuts half of the pain, then they will implant it permanently. What it does is dispenses medication directly to the painful areas in your spine via spinal fluid. And it is very expensive.

    I think you do stand a good chance of getting over this because you are already physically fit. It is important to strengthen your core muscles to make up for the weakness in the back. My husband herniated his back and was able to recover without surgery. I believe it took around 6 months for him to feel a whole lot better and not take meds on a regular basis. He had been going to the gym before the injury, and he made his way back to working out, using back exercises from therapy. Today he works out religiously to keep himself, and his back healthy. I wish I turned out like him, and he understands exactly how I feel.

    I really hope you get in with someone soon. One of my buddies named Straker is from the UK and he is really good to talk to. I don't think he'd mind if you sent him a PM; I think he has navigated NHS waters. Take good care of yourself and PM if you want.
  • I must concur that here in the US visiting other doctors for second and third opinions is the norm and in fact, required by some insurance companies. Doctors here are used to it and expect it.

    I did not know you were in the UK and medical care is not the same. Please forgive me.

    However; I still believe an MRI is in the cards in order to accurately determine exactly what is going on and to what extent. I understand now that this is easier said than done but do whatever you can to make it so.

    I do wish you all the best.
  • Okay, so I went to my GP today and tried to impress on him that I need to see specialist and get a second opinion om my condition. He tried sending me off to physiotherapy but I stamped that notion, saying that it was physiotherapy that made me worse in the first place (and these physiotherapists aren't even doctors, they can't diagnose, and I couldn't get an MRI or any scan down that road - pointless).

    I pressed for a specialist and he agreed to send me to a muscoskeletal specialist centre, and he wrote 'urgent' on the request sheet. Got a call from the centre, and they say the earliest they can see me is late May. Late MAY? That is ridiculous, that is over a month away. My GP was saying an MRI isn't that important anyway (I greatly disagree), and even if I do go to this appointment in May (I could be better or worse by then - either way it is pretty pointless) I may not be able to convince them I need an MRI, and if I do, that will be months in the future, too. As you can see, NHS services here in the UK are laughable. GPs are practically useless. This is why I need to see a chiropractor. I had an appointment within a day of the onset of sciatica and had a (in my mind, completely feasible) diagnosis of the problem that day, as well as treatment.

    What else can I do from here? I just have to hope it will be getting better and it stays on track from here. I'll see my chiropractor this Tuesday, and maybe ask if I need a private MRI. Oh and last night the tingling/burning in my foot picked up pretty bad, seemed to have inflamed my back again somehow, iced it and took ibuprofen. Woke up this morning and it is feeling much better - just a light tingling again. Fingers crossed it will subside.

    Thanks
  • The problem with sciatica for many people is that it comes and goes. I never had that problem as mine just came and stayed! But, it is common for it to go away for awhile (so I've heard), and then the slightest thing seems to make it return.

    After being on these boards for years (hearing many stories), I can't wait until the US gets a health care system similar to that of the UK!

    If I were you, I would go ahead and make the appointment for MAY. If you are healed by then, you can cancel; otherwise, you'll have it and can maybe find out what is wrong.
  • Yes I think it probably will just come and go. Remember, I'm not really suffering from outright pain at the moment. In fact, I'm not getting any bolts of pain at all, and theres not really any pain in my back 90% of the time. The tingling is much worse than the pain - the pain is usually a 2 (of out 10) whereas the tingling/burning is more like 4,5 or even 6.

    I'm really sorrow to hear yours stayed. How did the appointment with the surgeon go? Any plan for what to do now?

    How come you want a system like the UK? My experience with the healthcare here has been pretty bad... maybe it would be better for a much more long-term problem, but I want mine looked at now, and want to be healed in time for summer. My chiropractor said it should be. Yes, I have the appointment for May, we'll see how I am then =). Right now, it's back to the chiro.nd I think a L4/L5 disc bulge is probably what I have. Remember, here it's under the British Association of Chiropractic, so it's probably much different to that of the US. And I think my chiropractor in particular is pretty good with backs. I just don't understand why I should be fearful of seeing him and getting treated with chiropractic, although I understand why a second opinion would be a good option - I just can't get one, unless it's private (and expensive) that is, and even then I'm not familiar with private orthopedics.
  • Gwennie is right again.It comes and goes.With me it started
    once a year.Then twice,three times and,so on.In 2007 I spent six months out of commission because of several flare ups.
    So,since this is your first time and you are still young,get a definitive diagnosis.This way you'd be able to get the right course of treatment.A few hundred pounds is a good price when it comes to your spine.Hell,my insurance gets charged $5,600 for one.I've had twelve in the past 16 months.
    To answer why you should be afraid of chiro treatment.If you really have a herniated disc,the last thing you want done is someone twisting your body,manipulating your spine,etc.
    Have you tried a Ibuprofen course.The usual dose is 3x800mg a day for 7-10 days.Talk to your doctor about it.It is an anti-inflammatory drug and,tingling is usually a sigh of inflamed nerves.Still,this will only treat the symptoms.You need to have the cause diagnosed.Sorry to repeat myself but,
    this would involve MRI and a spine specialist.
    I hope you are getting better.Good luck!

    Cheers,G.
  • I was teasing about wanting a health system like the UK. After hearing people's comments about how long they have to wait to get a MRI, other treatment, etc. it doesn't sound as ideal as what we are led to believe from the press and politicians in this country. I should not have said anything as it is a hot topic in this country!!

    My appointment was as expected. There is nothing more he can do for me. My nerve pain is ongoing and can only be dealt with through pain management...thanks for asking!

    I'm glad you have faith in your chiro and I really hope it works out for you.
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