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Torn disc

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
Hi, I've just found this forum on the internet and wonder if some one can help me. I tore a disc in the summer - L4/L5. I had an epidural last week which has helped reduce the back pain and nerve pain in both legs. The problem I'm having is how to get mobile again. Yesterday I did a lot more but in the evening the nerve pain had increased in both legs. Do I continue like this or rest? I can't take anti-inflamatories (Ibuprofuen and Diclofenic and doctor says he can't give me anything else). The specialist is not convinced the nerve pain is from my disc and is sending me for nerve conduction studies and an MRI scan of my pelvis. He wants me to take gabepentin and ignore the leg pain. Am I not just prolonging the healing process by doing too much and irritating the nerves. Hope somebody can help as am virtually housebound and very depressed. Thanks


  • please can somebody help! I don't know what to do. Am trying to stay positive and hoping it will get better. Has anyone had a radial tear and how did you get it better?
  • Your primary care doctor or a spine specialist? I have suffered from herinated disc from a fall in March. I had horrible leg pain. Its a little easier said then done to just ignore the leg pain. You could have a nerve compressed by the disc but of coarse an MRI will show that. I have not had a tear and I am not sure what the difference is regarding herniations and tears. I would think rest would be the best. Ice helped me a great deal. Only 15-20 minutes an hour. Try to lay down vs sitting as sitting puts A LOT of pressure on the lumbar part of the spine. When do you see the doctor again. I am so sorry you in so much pain. I went through esi injections, nerve block injections, pains meds, 8 weeks of physical therapy all without success and ended up having a 360 fusion in Sept. My fall happened in March 09 and surgery Sept 09. You should do all the conservative treatments available to you. I want to wish you luck. Look for a post from gwennie17 who is very knowledgable and helpful.

  • Am seeing doctor and a specialist. thanks for advice will try to keep going. How do I find post from gwennie 17? This is all new to me.
  • Forgot to say that MRI scan does not show nerve root compression thats why specialist doing further tests. But physio spoke to says the disc fluid is leaking when I stand, sit etc and that is irritating nerves.
  • 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.
  • Just a thought, is it just ibuprofen and diclofenac that you can't take? I can't take either of these and was given naproxen, also an anti-inflammatory.

    It is only a week after the injection, so it is still early days - my second injection only started having an effect after the first week. If there is disk fluid (it's actually more a gel than a liquid)leaking it would irritate the nerve, but I would have thought that would show on the MRI. From personal experience I would say it is best to rest for now, as it does aggrevate the nerve if you overdo it.

    Hope you get some answers soon.
  • it could be compressed in a place that cant be seen. gwenie17 is a frequent flyer poster with lots and lots of knowledge and great advice. Humptydumpty gave you a link. YOu will find that lots of people on here are supportive and can answer so many of your questions. I sure hope they can figure out where you pain is coming from. You can always go for a 2nd opinion.

    Good luck to you!~
  • annular tears and they can be very painful. I had a discogram in order to confirm that the pain was caused by the disc. You really might want to see another doc if you are not getting answers or relief from the doc that you are seeing. Some docs do not think that tears should be painful and some are not. But I can tell you that I went through years of excruciating leg pain until I finally found a doc that was willing to do extra testing to see where the pain was coming from. I know how depressing that it can be thinking that you are just going to live your life like this. There is help out there. It really takes persistence and finding the right doc. Good luck and please keep us posted on your progress.
  • Is that why the specialist is sending me for nerve conduction studies. Would this show if it was compressed in another place? Also have asked doc for different anti inflamatories but he says there is only ibruprofen and diclofenic. Have appoint in morning so will ask about naproxen. With regards to the disc leaking - a physio says it does not show on the scan because I am led down for the scan and the gel goes back in. He thinks physio will help. I am also starting that tomorrow. Can I just ask how people mangage to get through the day. What do you do? How do you keep yourself occupied?
  • :H Welcome and sorry to hear you are in distress at the moment.

    I am making an assumption that you are home and not working at the moment -- I did a lot of laying around with ice packs for many months as I waited for my sciatic pain to be relieved -- have a bulging disk at L4/L5. Watching TV, computer games, reading, chatting on spine health and talking with friends and family on the phone got me through the worst of it. It takes a while to get functional again, I was on pain meds and trying to work -- had 3 epidurals -- I believe, for me, it was finally time passing that helped my situation as I wasn't a surgery candidate.

    Please know you're not alone now that you've found this forum. We are here to support you however we can.

    Take care,

  • Sounds like I'm in similiar situation except my scan does not show a bulge. Hearing you are better has given me hope, because they are also saying I am not surgery material. Bit worried at moment because pain has altered - more intense in the back today and pain in left thigh and right calf. Is this all normal pain for sciatica?
  • Did you have any PT to help you get better. Have got 1st appoint 2morrow and was wondering if would help. Thanks Cathy
  • I am having a similar experience as my MRI showed a mild herniation but according t my doc I should not be in that much pain as I was describing. My EMG test did show though that I was in quite a bit of pain as I described.

    While it has not been verified I believe I may have a torn disk but this is just a guess so far as I have been now to 6 different docs, NS, PM, Ortho, Spine Ortho, Neurologist and the basic answer given to me was that I should beat it without surgery.

    I have had 2 epis and it does take time for them to do their thing but I do believe you need to help it along. Has the doc given you any PT to do? This site has some great info on that. I have found starting with PT like mini cobras and simple exercises listed here to be a great start that can lead you to other exercises. But your PT needs to match your ailment but I would ask if mckenzie exercises or acqua therapy could work for you. Do not be discouraged if the PT may take time or the PT person is not the best for you. It takes time to find the right therapy.

    I really feel you must find something that works for you as far as the inflammation. I used to take two aleeve every morning and two at night when needed. I found that helped. Than I found that the dislofenic worked even better for me. These pain meds will help you do the PT which should help you on the recovery process. My doc explained we are dealing with the symptoms but while I would rather deal with the cause faster I feel this is the best approach as I do not want surgery unless I am bed ridden. But if some doctor can be a straight diagnosis that this is the cause of the amount of pain you are in than I would seriously consider the surgery.

    IMHO your next steps are to get some pain meds that can work a bit better and try and start some simple PT.

  • thanks for reply. Really appreciate it. Diclofinic worked but gave me heartburn and doc won't let me go back on it. Asked for other tabs but refuses although diff doc suggested intramuscular injection of diclofenic as a one off. Will ask again 2morrow. Also specialist will only let PT treat by back muscles and this starts tomorrow. He doesn't want any treatment of leg pain until I've had the Nerve Conduction Study and MRI on pelvis. It is all a waiting game. Is aleeve prescription or herbal medicine? What is an EMG test?

  • Will they be doing your next MRI with contrast? From what I understand the contrast can be the key in seeing the tear...my tear lit up like a Christmas tree on my films.

    Aleve is sold over the counter in the U.S. right next to the Motrin/Advil/ibuprofen and Tylenol. The generic name is naproxen sodium. The anti-inflammatories can be very irritating to the stomach so it is best to ALWAYS take them with food!

    Personally, my sciatica is almost always in my left hip/leg/calf/foot but sometimes it does 'cross-over' to my right thigh when things are really bad.

    Good luck with all of this, I hope you have a good day today :)

  • thanks, will ask about the contrast. Not something I have heard of before, but will check it out.
  • But I use EMG but it may be another one but I have had 2 of them and that is the test I believe you are going to get as it checks the health and signals of your nerves. They basically stick needles in certain spots and run low voltage electric through them and they can than see the health of the nerve and the state it is in. Like mine showed moderate pain on the left side and mild pain on the right side.

    Like other other poster Aleeve is just another pill for inflammation. I am not sure if you are UK or USA but they are sold OTC in the USA. I understand the heartburn is not a good sign but did you take it with food?

    As for the PT if you have a torn disk in the lumbar area it has nothing to do with your legs but the PT should try to get the pain out of the legs and more into the back to give you mobility to improve blood flow to the damaged disk.

  • I'm UK. I did always took the meds with food or milk. Will ask doc tomorrow about other medication Specialist also saying that leg pain is not form torn disc. Hoepfully this nerve test will shed some light on everything and then can get better.
  • Cathy

    I'm also in the UK. Ask your dr if he can prescribe Omeprezol or similar together with an anti-inflammatory. My GP gave me that as I was getting heartburn from the naproxen (I have gall stones as well) and that seems to do the trick.
  • It may help you but it actually made me worse. I went for about a month and on one particular visit I thought that the tens machine was broken. It was not. I ended up being completely numb in my left hip area and butt cheek. That does not mean that it will not help you. I have seen lots of folks with great results from PT. Definitely worth trying.
  • Hi again, went to doc on monday. She won't prescribe anti inflamatories and still saying is not a torn disc, but doesn't know what is happening. Have now been referred to a neurologist as well as seeing neurosurgeon in december. Had Nerve Conduction Study yesterday. They say there is no nerve or muscle damage. Only trouble is although pins and needles in legs is easier since I had epidural, the fixed pains in my leg and buttock have increased since sunday. Usually they go overnight and come on through the day but have actually woke up with them today. Went to PT on monday who gave me a simple stretch exercise. (lying on stomach and pushing up with hands). She also told me to get more active and work through the pain, but pain is increasing. Am desperate because don't know how to get better.
    ps could the nerve onduction studies have increased the leg pain, because was the worst it's been for a while last night. If so will these pains subside.
  • My experience that the nerve conduction study (if we are talking about the same thing here) will make the pain worse for about a day. I would though give more time to the epidural as you may be in that middle stage where the cortizone has worn off and the nerve is still tender from the shot.

    I do agree with your PT that you need to do something but I find it a bit troubling that they are having you do PT without knowing where is the problem really. They say no torn disc, no nerve or muscle damage either but did the test show that you were in pain?

    The doc should have noticed that from the test as mine did and if they did I would also find it troubling that no meds especially if you are complaining about pain during PT.

    I would get a second opinion...I am sorry but this is just not adding up to me and you can be doing the wrong PT and further making the situation worse. You need a diagnosis before you can just go into any PT and right now they have not given you one. In these cases I would stick to some simple stretches of the muscles around the sciatica nerve and walking...please understand this is just my opinion.


  • Thanks for reply. sorry just read back what I wrote earlier. The doc and consultant are saying it's a torn disc. But also saying the leg pains are not coming from this disc. Also the doc who conducted the Nerve Conduction study said I shouldn't be getting pain in both legs from a torn disc. This is where the confusion is, because people who I have spoken to say that the pain I get is probably from the torn disc. Am seeing a nuerologist next week for a 2nd opinion. so hopefully will get some answers.
    Am just doing a simple stretch exercise and am trying to increase my walking. Also on a positive note, the severe pains from yeaterday have subsided so was probably the nerve condution study.

  • I know how confusing all of this can be. When I had disc herniations at L4-5 and L5-S1, I had to learn online about spine anatomy and how things are supposed to work, as well as relevant conditions. I recommend that you research all you can so that you'll feel comfortable speaking with your doctors.

    I hope they'll do a procedure called a discogram which is a provocation test to confirm which disc(s) are generating pain. It is invasive like the EMG and can provide valuable information to your doctors.

    These spine problems are so complicated and it can take a long time to get a diagnosis or to pinpoint the exact cause of pain. MRI's don't catch everything either. Another test to try is a ct/myelogram which was around before MRI's and it provides more detail. It is invasive because they inject contrast dye into the spine and then after you're tilted up and down on a special table and rolled around, they will do a ct scan to see what's going on.

    As far as meds, maybe your doctor will consider adding a pain reliever like Tramadol (Ultram) which is non-narcotic but may feel like it. There is also Darvocet which is a weak narcotic and then from there you go on to something like Vicodin(also called Norco; generic form is Hydrocodone). In the UK it goes by a different name but I can't recall. I had a lot of pain from herniated discs and my lower back hurt badly as well as my leg from nerve pain and muscle spasms. I was given a combination of meds including Norco, Neurontin (nerve pain med), Soma (muscle relaxer), and NSAID (Naproxen). This was a few years ago and now I'm on different ones because my pain is chronic.

    I hope things work out for you and you find the answers you seek. Take care
  • thanks for advice, will do more research and mention the tests you mentioned to doc and specialist.
  • hi everyone it's me again. I was talking to someone today who said the pelvic scan I am having could pr show things like a twisted pelvis or whether I had a prolapse of the womb. It was only after she said this that it dawned on me - I have a small prolapse, which was pointed out during an operation about 5 years ago by a nurse. It was never treated and I never mentioned it to my doctor. What I am asking is whether a prolapsed womb could cause sciatic symptoms? This would make sense of what the specialist is saying that the leg pain is not related to the disc. Can anybody help with this?


  • Hi & welcome to the board. I'm sorry to hear that you're having trouble pinpointing what's causing your pain. As far as a prolapsed uterus causing back pain, see this link:


    Hope this helps, please keep us posted.

  • Have found out its not the prolapsed uterus that is causing the problem. Have stopped the corbra exercise that PT gave me. Am not in as much pain as I was. Am now pottering for about and hour - hour and a half in the morning. This lessens in the afternoon and have to rest more. But by evening the pain in my right buttock gets intense (think it is following the line of the sciatic never) and also in my legs. Not sure if this pain is from the Nerve Conduction Study still, or if from the exercies from PT (she was having me do 5-10 reps every hour). But stopped them 2 days ago. Can somebody advise, am I pottering for too long or is it pain from exercise or NCS. Really want to get better but am struggling.
    ps also getting a numb feeling in right buttock, which started to come on last night. Think it happens when I lie down on my back with feet up on a stool. Am very scared and pretty depressed. Also feel like a wimp because know there are lots of people worse off than me, but feel like my life is over.
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