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Sciatica = 23 and Severely Depressed! Please Help!!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
Where to start....

As I read through out this forum, my post seems a little premature and weak compared to others but this pain is taking over my life and really depressing me.

I am now 23 years old and my injury occurred approximately 3 months ago. I went without any doctors visits for 1 month thinking I had strained or pulled my hip flexor/quadricep muscles. Upon being forced by the pain to see my doctor I was diagnosed with sciatica and given an injection of Tordisol into my buttocks. This did nothing and just made my leg feel like it was full of cement for 20 mins.

About 1 1/2 months ago I got my first MRI which revealed I have a:
1) "Diffuse disc bulge at L4-5 resulting in BL NF narrowing. The right L4 nerve appears to be in contact with the bulging disc at the NF."
2) "Posterior disc bulge with posterior annular tissue or tear at L5-S1."
3) "No disc herniation or significant canal sterosis."

I am currently taking Somas(muscle relaxers) and Norcos(pain relievers) which have darastically changed my personality.

I am scheduled for an Epidural Injection evaluation tomorrow and am hoping this injection will relieve my pain. Plllllease Helllllp!!!

Oh P.S.
This is what the pain did to my spine:


  • Hi,

    Don't get yourself too worked up about this. MRI's are just a piece of the puzzle. They can show all sorts of awful things - THAT DON'T MEAN A THING!,i.e, someone with no pain at all can show disc bulges/herniations, and other nasty things, but it does not mean that it's causing any pain or that it needs any treatment. In other words, don't place too much emphasis on an MRI.

    I know, believe me I know, sciatica REALLY bites. I've been dealing with it off and on for quite a while now.

    What they do is try different things such as injections, various meds, etc. It's a process of elimination b/c everyone responds differently and there is no one single answer. Eventually, (hopefully very soon for you!) they will find something that will work for you. Patience,(tough I know) is very, very important with this.

    If your currently meds are making you really miserable - speak up, tell them about it and they will try something else.

    And please do not compare yourself to others here, as I said before, everyone is different, especially with this spine stuff. Don't read too much into it.

    Relax as much as you can, and I hope you feel better soon!
  • Get multiple opinions from doctors. Stick to large university hospitals if possible, where they (either orthopedic or neurosurgery) are fellowship trained.

    You want someone who deals with spines only, and not just a general ortho.

    I was lucky enough to find a Dr. who is both an ortho and neurosurgeon, and does a lot of teaching.

    Don't be frightened about the injection. I read horror story after horror story and I found it was really no big deal - it took all of about 10 minutes, and it did help.

    As for being depressed, I know how much it hurts, and how frustrating this can be, but keep telling yourself that a solution WILL be found. Your only 23, and have a lot of living ahead of you. This is just a bump in the road. :)
  • 1) Should I be trying to rest as much as possible or going about my every day activities?

    2) When applying ice do you put it on your spine or on the areas that hurt?

    3) Does stretching improve or hurt the ailment?

    4) At what point should Physical Therapy be implemented?

    5) At what point is surgery an option?

    6) Have any specific vitamins helped anyone? (glucosamine, etc?)
  • Everybody is different. Regarding activity, before I had surgery, I could barely move, so I didn't do much. However, now I find it's better to keep moving.

    Ice became ( and still is) my best friend. I always put it on the area that hurts the most. Again, some people feel more relief with heat.

    Stretching is tricky sometimes. You really need the advice of a Dr. or Physical Therapist.

    Surgery is a last resort, and most doctors won't even consider it until you have tried every conservative option, at least a month or so.

    I never tried any vitamins.

    Have they told you to take Ibuprofen as well? It's an anti-inflamatory and for me, really helpful. They can also prescribe gabapentin, which is really an anti convulsant drug, but is used off label for nerve pain. For me, it's been very helpful. ASK your doctor, they are there to help you and if you don't complain they won't know you need more help.

    When I first started on this road, what was tried, in order was:

    Oral steriods (e.g., predisone) minimal effect, but that sometimes works for some people.

    Epidural steriod injection, had one, about 25% relief.

    Next, a diffent type of injection called a selective nerve root injection; sounds nasty but was the same as an epidural, just more directly aimed at the angry nerve causing the problem. That helped quite a bit. After I had that, physical therapy for a couple of weeks.

    Please note; these shots do not work right away, they can take up to two weeks before you notice any difference.

    But, after all this, I couldn't stand it anymore and had surgery. Mine was a large herniation and nothing other than surgery was going to help. That was five months ago. Even though I'm having some of the pain return and have some "kinks" to work out, it is still a major improvement, and I can function.


    See a spine specialist and the ball will get rolling to find you some relief. If you don't feel comfortable with one Dr., find another. You have to be your own advocate and pretty much work WITH the Dr. to find a solution. Ask lots and lots of questions.

    You'll get there! Take care :)

  • It would appear that the source of your sciatic is coming for a compression of the L-4 spinal nerve at the level of the L4-5 disc bulge. Think of a disc as a water balloon. When pressure is applied on one side, the other side bulges and takes up more space on that side. This is what the MRI indicates is happening with you.

    The disc is bulging into an opening called the neural foramina which is an opening that the spinal nerve uses to exit the spinal column. When the passage decreases in size, the nerve has less room and it can become compressed. This causes the pain that you define as "sciatic" pain.

    You can search for a "dermatome map" which will show you the correlation between the nerve root and the part of the body that is affected. It is like a road map to determine where pain is originating. (For example, in most people, if the big toe is numb, it is probably a L-4 problem, etc.)

    You can read about foramina here:


    and herniated discs here:


    It is possible to heal a disc problem such as yours, but it takes some patience and quite a bit of time. Yes, you should continue with some mild exercise, such as walking and gentle stretches. You should place the ice or bag of frozen peas or whatever works for you over the lumbar nerve root that is affected...physical therapy may or may not be helpful depending on many thing. You might want to go a couple times to learn the appropriate exercises and be sure you are doing them correctly.


    You want to avoid all activities that involve bending or twisting at the waist, pushing, pulling, reaching overhead or to the side and lifting anything heavier than about a gallon of milk.

    Also you might want to spend some time each day lying on the floor! There are two ways to approach this.
    Lie on the floor on your back with hips up against a couch or chair. Bend at the hip so you calves and feet rest on the cushion. Arms should be close to your sides, palms facing up. Relax and breathe deeply and slowly from the belly...for about 5 minutes.

    Or, lie on the floor on your back, with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Keep your pelvis in a neutral position...the rest of the instructions are the same.

    The point of either of these exercises is to let your discs unload. It allows the soft tissue to relax and return to a more normal position. It helps with proper spinal alignment and is a natural form of traction. I do this last one whenever my back begins to hurt. I've been known to find a quiet corner of an airport corridor and stretch out until my flight is called...or in a department store dressing room when I can't take the pain one second longer.

    My husband ruptured a disc at l5-S1 years ago and his surgeon advised that he let it heal without surgery. It probably took about six months and then he gradually started up with regular activities. This was 17 years ago and to this day, he does his back exercises EVERY day -- he literally never misses a day, and whenever he does yard work or engages in something that he knows will aggravate his back, he hits the floor and does one of these traction exercises. I do them several times each day and they really do make a difference.

    If you should develop any bladder or bowel problems, call your doctor immediately. This is a sign of developing cauda equina syndrome which can cause permanent nerve damage. Other than that, if you can live with the sciatic pain, you should be able to heal without surgery.

    If possible, after your injection tomorrow, take several days off to give the steroid its best chance of working. Avoid walking or too much movement as it will cause the steroid to dissipate more quickly and will be less effective. (Many doctors will tell you it is fine to go about your normal routine immediately, but I firmly am a believer in being a couch potato for at least 48 hours, and 72 if you can swing it!!)

    Good luck.
  • I got an epidural about 5 hours ago and am feeling pretty good with the exception of some lower back pain. Don't have much to do this weekend so I'm going to take it very easy and closely record the results as I have an appt. with the doc a week from today. Thanks for the support!!
  • Hopefully you are 1 step closer to getting some permanent relief! Keep us posted.
  • Hi Mike,

    I was injured 6 weeks ago and the sciatic pain is almost always unbearable. I am sorry you are going through this too. I have been terribly depressed about it but am now getting depressed about being depressed if that makes any sense. Please let me know how your epidural goes. I have one scheduled for late December. And, you are not alone.

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