Thank you for taking the time to read my first post.
First, I am a male in my mid-30s.
Since February, I have had what I now consider chronic lower back and sciatica issues. I say chronic because it is literally daily. All the pain is on the right side. It seems as if the problem is around the L4/L5 area, even though the MRI only showed a "mild" disc bulge there. To me there is nothing mild about that pain when it is not managed. My research where I have found pictures of correlations between the lumbar nerve roots and pain location, lead me to believe that my problem is around L4 ( EDITED)
I have done all the conventional treatments from physical therapy to chiropractic , and even acupuncture. I just had my second epidural steriod injection which, like the first one, did not help. The first injection was given between L4/L5, the second one was given between L5/S1.
The only "effective" way I have found to "manage" the pain is taking 400 mg of Advil every single day since February; one 200 mg in the morning, one in the evening. (Occasionally, but not too often, I take Tylenol to mix it up just a little, but it is not as effective as the Advil).
If I don't take the Advil, I cannot function. I can't work, play or do anything productive -- and if I am asked to, I become quite irritable. My mental state can only focus on this pain in my back and radiating pain down my leg to my shin. If I do take the Advil, I can get through the day relatively fine, although I still know something is a bit off.
On top of all this I do have scoliosis, which was only diagnosed after I became a teenager. I have a noticeable shift in my body, although doctors have said I am not an extreme case. My current physical therapist says that my shift may not be structural (i.e., happened when I was born). Instead it may be non-structural that could have occurred over time since I was a teenager due to some other problems I have had with my spine and body. She says that my shift could be corrected, at least some, with some proper physical therapy work.
Here are my questions:
1. I am scheduled to have 3 epidural steroid injections. I have had 2 that were not effective. Is it worth having the 3rd? Like I said, the first was put between L4/L5, the second was put between L5/S1. I thought the placement of these things didn't matter 100% because the medicine was supposed to spread.
2. This has been going on for 6 months, daily now. Literally today I just came up with a concern about nerve damage. What is my risk of nerve damage given that this has not been corrected yet? How do I know if I have nerve damage now? My worry is that if I don't get this fixed soon, which looks like to be from a surgical method given I have tried all other treatments, that I will end up having nerve damage which will make the surgery ineffective.
3. Given that Advil is effective in reducing and managing my pain, would you recommend just continuing that course of action indefinitely (possibly for the rest of my life) as opposed to looking at surgery? Again, my worry is nerve damage and the Advil possibly masking that nerve damage down the line.
4. My worry with Advil long term is the health of my kidneys (and some concern about my stomach). Is it statistically a given that I will have problems if I take Advil daily for years and years on end? Is it better to cycle between the Tyelenol, Advil and maybe Aleve? Is there a big difference between Aleve and Advil?
5. My primary care has finally recommended me to a neurosurgeon on my request. I hope it is not too late. But anyway, at this point would you insist on having surgery to correct this problem? Would you get 2nd and 3rd opinions from different neurosurgeons? Would you choose an orthopedic surgeon over a neurosurgeon? It seems pretty obvious to me that I would need a discectomy.
6. I have had nerve problems off and on for years. It only became chronic since February. One thing about this that scares me a little bit is how I have to carefully get up from certain positions (especially lying on my stomach). Sometimes if I get up the wrong way in order to stand or start walking, my nerve fires and my right leg literally gives out and I have to catch myself on a wall or use all my strength in my left leg to not fall. After that initial firing, though, I can walk normally. Is that something common with this condition that I have? Has anyone experienced that?
I know I have asked a lot of questions, but these have been building in my head for a while now. I appreciate you taking the time to read them, and even more appreciative if you respond.
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Edited by moderator paulgla