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too young for this much pain!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,622
I am 20 years old and have been suffering from severe sciatica for probably 7 months now. I think it was triggered by running 2 miles a day for over a year. Once it got so painful I finally stopped running and went to my chiropractor. My first chiropractor refused to do anything other than one adjustment, I saw no improvement. I proceeded to get X-rays of my lower back. The xrays revealed that I my hips were slightly rotated causing my sacrum to be "out of whack". I went to another chiropractor who diagnosed me with sciatica... pain from my rearend to my toes on my left side. After several adjustments, muscle stim, and exercises my condition was not improving. I decided to get an MRI, all this showed is that I have 2 slightly buldging disks that are contributing to the pinched nerve. I continued my chiropractor care and still saw NO improvement (I went twice a week for a few months). So I stopped and tried acupuncture, which only provided temporary relief. I am still in extreme amounts of pain! Please, does anyone have any suggestions?! I am desperate! I have been recommended spinal decompression therapy which can cost thousands, being a college student I cannot afford that! I am open to anything other than surgery and drugs! Thanks for your time!
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Comments

  • I am glad that you did get an MRI because now you know exactly what is causing you the pain.

    This is from a personal experience: I don't think chiropractic therapy will improve your disc problem. Before my surgery, I saw a pain management doctor who preferred physical therapy because PT can teach you how to avoid future injury. A year ago when I had my first bad episode of sciatica, physical therapy helped (4 months of it).

    Later, I had epidural steroid injections. These injections can help, but they are not 100% guarantee. I had four injections. First one gave me 50% relief,2nd and 3rd -none, and 4th -50%

    Have you talked to your primary care physician? I would start there. He/she will probably prescribe pain meds, but you don't have to take them if you can tolerate the pain. And the doc will probably prescribe physical therapy.

    Surgery should be your last option and doctors usually don't jump to surgery.

    Finally, most of the time sciatica will go away by itself. My pain doc also said that bulging discs can heal themselves. Considering your age and the size of the bulges, I think you have a good chance that you can avoid surgery.

    Bending, twisting, lifting can aggravate your sciatic pain. Try to avoid these movement until you are well. Like you, my sciatica returned after I began running 5-6 days a week.

    Good luck!
  • My experience & recommendations are much like Lovinggardener's....I have 2 ruptured and 1 bulged disc from running & exercise. I tried all the conservative treatments for it including chiro (which didn't help at all & at times seemed worse)...ended up going to my PCP when I just couldn't take it anymore...got an MRI & then was sent to an Orthopedic Surgeon for ESIs (I had 3...1st did nothing, 2nd got some improvement, 3rd nothing)...and now I'm headed for surgery next week.

    I really recommend that you slow down, rest & see your PCP as soon as you can.

    -Wishing you the best!!
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 10,045
    ">image

    For a Spine-Health Site introduction, Click on :

    Welcome To Spine-Health

    If you have any questions, feel free to contact (PM) any one of the Moderators here Priestess , Bruce , Paulgla, DiLauro

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    Check the various tabs at the top of the Spine-Health page and you will find so much that is offered here.

    Please remember that all information you receive from members on this forum is NOT
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    To get back to the Forums, you can always click on Forum Home

    Please feel free to contact me at rdilauro@gmail.com or send me a message
    ________________________________________________________________________________
    The previous posters suggestions are very valid. For starters, I would not continue to see a chiropractor now that you know you have a disc problem. Some of the manipulations done by a chiropractor can create additional problems.
    You should be seeing a specialist (Neurologist, Neurosurgeon or Pain Management doctor). They will be the ones in the best position to put together an action plan.
    Before even thinking about surgery, there are so many conservative treatments that should be tried.
    - Physical Therapy
    - Aqua Therapy
    - Heat/Ice Treatments
    - Massage Therapy
    - Passive Traction
    - Ultrasound
    - Acupuncture
    - Spinal Injections (ESI, Trigger Point, etc)
    Many times when the disc bulge is not too large, using some or all of the above treatments can resolve the problem. Being young is really your ally right now. Spinal problems never discriminate regarding age, but when you are young, your body is stronger and hopefully can help in the healing process.
    I know you mentioned no Surgery or Drugs. Hopefully , with some of the above you will be able to avoid surgery.
    There are some medications that are also important in helping. Is it pain medications, narcotics that you do not want or any drug? Some people do not want to take any narcotic pain medication, but there are other alternatives.
    Discuss everything with your doctor, explore all options so that you know exactly whats involved.

    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I am sorry you're in such pain. I know how awful sciatic nerve pain is! Mine was also brought on by too much exercise. No more squats or dead lifts for this lady! Sciatica is a symptom, not a diagnosis. The bulging discs pressing up against the nerve root is the problem. I agree with lovinggardener that with your age and diagnosis, you can probably get through this without surgery. I would suggest going to a physical therapist who can teach you how to move properly and strengthen your core in order to prevent this from worsening or happening again once its resolved. Heat and ice also help. I also started with a chiro which made things worse. I hope you find relief soon!
  • Thank you guys for all of your advice!
  • Hi Tracey

    I too had bulging discs and did nothing about it other than chiro adjustments. THEN i bent over and herniated the disc leaving me in surgery.

    You are right in looking for help now. A Physiotherapist or PT can give you exercises to pump the disc back in, but you need lots of lying down rest/ice. Whatever you do, look after it now because you absolutely do not want it to herniate. Also at PT will give you some exercises (gentle ones) to help strengthen your core muscles so they can hold your back well.

    Good luck, I hope the pain improves. Be very careful, dont lift anything over 2kg, no bending from the back.
    Let us know how you go.
  • Hi,
    I was never a runner, but let me tell you I let my L5-S1 disc go for 4 months without seeing a doctor. That slipped disc turned into a total herniation (no exaggeration) which caused something with the latin name cauda equina which causes paralysation of the bladder due to a pinched sciatic nerve. It was very very painful. Had I let it go longer it probably would have killed me. So, after about a month in the hospital, the doctors finally figured out what was wrong with me after all of these test, found by MRI scan. It resulted in an emergency laminectomy, which was successful but now that I am approaching middle age it has become a lot more painful.

    I would never want to wish this injury even on my worst enemy!
  • I would try an inversion table especialy at your age. I to had alot of pain in lower back at your age doc thought i was crazzy and was making it up.Ice should help also since my surgery when im in pain i ice it. I feel for you and hope ya gert to feelin pain free
  • ya, I think I will purchase an inversion table within the week, Magnumtagem, do you have any recommendations on brand?
  • I hear ya sister. I was running 25 miles/week. My advice. STOP RUNNING. Second STOP GOING TO CHIROPRACTORS. They'e basically operating on you blind. Third DONT GET AN INVERSION TABLE. It's a quick fix solution and believe me, there is no quick fix.

    I'm 8 weeks into two buldging disks and one ruptured disk. My pain level has gone from about 7-8 to about 1-2. Somedays it's zero. What I figured out is any manipulation of the inflammed sciatic nerve is going to inflame it more. Don't stretch it. Don't twist it. Don't pound it. Just accept the fact that you're going to be down for a bit. The key for me was 800mg of ibuprofen for about 2 weeks. 1 pill every 8 hours on the dot. 5am, 1pm, 9pm. I also had hydrocodone for backup, but I never used the whole bottle. For those 2 weeks my pain went down to pretty much 0 and I had to be real careful to not forget I was injured.

    What the ibu does is reduce the inflammation so the sciatic nerve can return to normal. You're trying to break the cycle because an inflamed nerve rubs against the buldge and inflames more. I'm now down to two 200mg motrin's per day. One in the morning, one before bed. By next week I plan on being down to just one. Because I'm 45 and I have an actual rupture, I plan to recuperate for the next year. I'm very happy because I know it could have been way worse.

    I can't stress enough. You have to slow down. No parties. No slinging book bags on your shoulders. No running. You're body will heal itself. 100 million years of evolution is on your side, but only if you don't keep injuring it. The risk of a PT is there are good ones and there are bad ones. If you get a bad one, you wont know it til it's too late.

    All of the above is completely based on my experience. I'm not a doctor and am not offering professional medical advice (thought I'd beat em to the punch. haha).
  • i personelly have not looked or used an inversion table but a guy that i does my car repairs uses one and loves it. He is in his 50s says it aint a cure all and makes him feel better but he does walk alot. It is just part of his own treatment like an ice pack. I was going to look at getting one then i ruptured 15-s1 now im worried that it could cause more problems having had surgery. There have been other posts on here for inversion tables. I think they will help some and not others. I hope you find something to help. Im also not a doc or qualified pro lol unless ya mean dealing with pain.
  • ya i'll admit I have had a hard time "slowing down"! I'm a college student, my backpack alone weighs way too much! I may have to convert to one of those bags on wheels. It also doesn't help that I am a nanny and have to carry around an 18 month old, but I know I really need to watch my physical activity especially since its been over 6months that I've been in so much pain. I've read that bed rest is the best cure for this problem. But again, I am really glad to hear from everyone and its comforting to know that others share my pain (even though I would never wish it on anyone)! And thank you firestorm, my mom keeps bugging me to take ibuprofen so now that I have reinforcement I won't feel so bad taking medicine all of the time.
  • Carrying a baby is too much for your disc. And ibuprofen is great inflammation but don't take them for too long. They are hard on your stomach.
  • And don't drink alcohol when taking ibuprofen...it causes stomach bleeding.
  • I hope your Dr. can refer you to a Pain Management Dr. They do injections for pin and also some meds which are mild and may help the nerve pain. I take amitriptyline at night for nerve leg pain and it helps me sleep. Does your College have an insurance program that will cover some mild med for you. I wish you find some relief for your pain and can continue your studies. 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
  • Avoid 'extended' bed rests. That's actually bad. You need to stop compressing your spine and get a grip on the inflamed sciatica. No alchohol. No smoking (worst thing for you disks). And ibuprofen for about 3 weeks until the swelling goes down. Word of caution! When you're taking ibuprofen, you'll feel like you're healed. You cannot lift heavy things during this time or you could seriously injure yourself. Don't be a typical college student, pop some ibuprofen, and go weight lifting (hey, I went to college too! haha) No babies. No books. No running. No lifting anything. The good news is you need to keep active. Being on your feet (lots of walking) completely takes the pressure off that nerve.

    The better news is you're getting a heads up. Here's the hard truth. You're 20 and you already have buldging disks and sciatica. You're currently at the bottom of the hill (as any 45 year old will tell you). At age 24-25 you'll start having kids. Between 25-37 you'll probably relocate 4-5 times. My advice is to save your back now. Stay very active and strong during your pregnancies. Never ever move furniture. NEVER. Did I say never? NEVER. Spend a couple hundred bucks and pay movers. Best money you'll ever spend. And don't make your poor husband move everything either or you'll have to live through HIS bad back. I wish someone had told ME that. Be a total b*tch about your back. Don't let people convince you you're being overprotective. You're not.

    If you don't heed the advice of people on these boards, you could possibly be looking at ruptured disks by age 30. One morning you'll wake up and realize you can't move, THEN you'll realize you still have another 50 years of life ahead of you.

    Again, my 2 cents.
  • Would bicycling be beneficial to me? I would like to remain somewhat active... i do a lot of walking but I would like to start biking ONLY if it won't make my sciatica worse. My chiro recommended it, but I would rather get advice from you guys... who actually know what I'm going through! What do you think?

    Oh and firestorm... I tried taking ibuprofen today... 200mg every eight hours and it took my pain from an 8 to probably a 5. And I will definitely take it easy (no heavy lifting, alcohol, etc...) now that I know how important it is to be gentle on my bad back.

    Thanks for everyone's encouragement!
  • Gosh...I wish I had heard this when I was in college. I didn't have back problems in college but it runs in my family.

    After smoking for 20 years (on and off socially)

    , moving furniture (I'm a lightweight), not using proper body alignment, all the bad things for back....

    Now I am dealing with the consequences.

    BTW...quit smoking for 6 months. While I've gone months and even over a year without smoking, I will not touch a cigarette again. The amount of pain that I was in is not worth a cigarette.

    Tracy...take care of your back from now on. Again, great advice!!!
  • Sitting is bad....very bad for your back. Just walk for now. Perhaps you can bike once you heal, but I would stay off the bike for now. Sitting presses on your disc.

    Again, see a physical therapist instead of a chiro.
  • Sound about right. 8 hrs is a bit of stretch for 200mg. The way I guaged it was I'd take 200mg, wait about 25 minutes on an empty stomach (1.2 hours with food), then guage my pain level. I would feel pretty good. But after 3-4 hours I'd feel pain again. Then I knew 200mg would last maybe 3 hours. The beauty of an 800mg ibu (in one pill) was it would slow release and last the full 8 hours. But that's by perscription only. The key is experimenting and really listening to your body.

    I'd say no to bicycling. With that disk, you'll probably be pushing it into your nerve. You want to exercise upright (legs underneath you) with low impact (walking, slight inclined thread mill, light aerobics). The ultimate goal here is to get that budging disk to retreat because you can't live on ibuprofen. I found the superman stretch (opposite arm and legs reaching while on your stomach) and pushing up from the floor on your hands (again on your stomach) to be extremely effective at relieving pressure.

    Here's my opinion on PTs. I've already gone through this with my ex wife and my Dad. PTs tend to be young and strong, very active, and have never experienced real pain (why? because if they had these problems, they couldn't be a PT). Soooo, what I've seen, is they're well intentioned, but they tend to ignore your pleas. They think you're tired or you're muscles are getting tired. I've seen this 4 times. Again, purely based on my experience. Not saying you shouldn't see one, just be very careful. I mean it's hard enough to find a good, fully board certified NS. Why would a PT be any different? And a big no on chiros.
  • ice ice ice try it might help also my doc said ice for low activity and heat before activity. might help ya i hope so level 5 and higher is horrible.
  • ya I've tried ice a few times, should I ice my lower back or my leg? (i know it's my low back that is causing the pain in my buttocks and leg, which should I ice?)
  • I have always been told to ice my back because that is where the pain originates, but I don't think it would hurt to ice your leg.

    Just my opinion, but always ask your doctor.
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