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L4-5 protrusion, L3-4 and L5-S1 disk bulge

TamiGTTamiG Posts: 19
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Lower Back Pain
I have a couple of things going on with my lower back.
1. L4-5, there is a central broad-based disc protrusion with an annular tear and facet arthropathy.

2. Disk bulge at L3-4 and L5-S1 with facet arthropathy and bilateral mild neural foraminal narrowing.

I have been off work now for 6 weeks doing the 2x a week physical therapy. The Dr. I am seeing seems to think I am ready to be back at work full time. I do not agree!

At this point there are days that I don't feel able to do much. Can't sit\stand for long because of the pain I feel.
It takes me a day to recover from the day befores therpy. I just did my first tracktion and spent the next day with what feels like pulled muscles along with the lower back pain. Is this how it should feel??

The Dr. says that most people my age (50) would show these things on an MRI that it's a normal ageing of the back thing to happen.
Anyone out there have any comments??


  • Have you seen an Orthopedic Surgeon or Neurosurgeon yet? If not you need to get referrals from your Primary Doctor. My Primary filled out all the papers my work and Insurance company to be off work and now I'm Long Term Disability. I had only one L5-S1 herniated disc and annular tear and facet joint arthropathy and I'm still off work 21 months now. You need to let your Dr. know you're unable to work, barely walk, lift things or bend over and not able to work. You've had a back injury and you need to be treated by a Specialist. I had facet joint injections that helped and Cymbalta and other meds make it tolerable now. I hope your Dr. helps you. 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
  • Yes I have seen a Orthopedic Surgeon through workmans comp. he dosent have a good bed side manner and seems to feel I should be good to work. I am no baby and have had 3 children with no drugs and this is to much to handle.
  • Could you tell us a bit more about your situation? Is your pain more in the back or in the leg? Is it relieved by a certaini position --like some people can't walk or stand, but the pain goes away as soon as they sit. Others cannot sit but feel better walking, etc.

    Was anything said about the bulging disc and annular tear at L4-5 pressing on the spinal root?
  • with PT. It actually made my pain worse and that is when I started experiencing being numb in certain areas.

    An annular tear can be extremely painful. I know that docs will disagree on this subject but I have multiple tears. A discogram proved that they were causing alot of pain for me. A gel like substance can protrude through the tear which can irritate and compress the nerves.

    I also have severe arthritis in my facet joints. It is also very painful. I can not sit, stand or walk for more than a few minutes without pain. I have found that getting a rhizotomy (nerve burn)done about once a year helps with this pain.

    Have you considered getting a second opinion? I went through several docs before I finally found one that could help. He is a pain management doctor.

    If your doc does not believe that you are suffering in pain I think it is time to move on to another doctor.

    Good luck to you and keep us posted.
  • I can sit for short periods of time and walking is getting better both give me pain after a short time though. Right after this first happened lying on my side with a pillow between my legs was best. I have shooting pain down my left back side with numbness in the thigh and top of the foot some days are worse when both sides hurt. The Dr has me on Skelaxin and Tramadol I do not feel they are really helping.
    I have been going to PT now 2x a week for sometime now it has helped but, takes a day to get over it.

    My last visit they tried decompression on me and I have spent the last 2 days in so much pain my back hurts worse now. I am not sure if that is how it is suppose to work or not?

    I am at the point now were nights are long and then during the day I want to sleep. I don’t ever sleep more than 2 hours at a time. I feel like I am walking around in a fog. I am a pretty positive person but I can tell that mentally that this is taking its toll on me.
    I think it may be best to get a second opinion at this point.
    Thank you everyone for all your support and questions answered. I am realizing that this is a long road to recovery even if the Dr. I am seeing thinks I should be just fine.
  • If the doctor is someone work picked out tell them you want a second opinion and you want to be able to pick the doctor. You would be suprised how much an employer's doctor and your doctor will disagree.
  • do you ever forget where your at , I do when the pain get intense , PT helps keep me moving but it does hurt when working out . I have three disc gone two small bulging discs in my lower back . I have tried the same meds and more nothing helps that does not nock you out , hope find relief !
  • I have the same thing you do.. I just continue working with the pain..it's not easy. I do take neurontin..miricle drug that it is and of course, IBU's. They have sent me to physical therapy..no help at all.
  • No my pain has never been to the point were I don't know were I am. Maybe a few times I have wanted to bang my head against the wall! LOL Don't know what I was thinking that night. NO I didn't really do it!
  • If I were you, I would certainly go seek another opinion since W.C. doctors aren't working on your side and are paid to deny everything in order to put you back to work, regardless of the severity of your condition.

    This was clearly evident to me since they are in such a hurry to send you back to work, despite you having nerve pain shooting down your leg. This cannot be ignored and you'll probably end up having epidural injections to treat the pain and inflammation in the nerve. If it continues to bother you or if you develop more neurological problems then you would definately have to be seen by a surgeon for them to assess your risk of having permanent nerve damage. You can't wait too long if the doctor recommends surgery to decompress the nerve.

    Just remember that WC doctors aren't working on your behalf and that you could also go to your regular doctor who can refer you to a reputable specialist. Take care
  • I have herniations in the same places. I was off work for a long time (can't remember exactly how long). The insurance company wanted me to go back to work, and made up a "return to work" schedule for me. I didn't think I was ready, but I was trying very hard to cooperate with them, so I did what they said. I ended up having to go back off work, and on disability again for a year.

    Everyone is different, but you know your own pain and your own body. If you don't feel you're ready, don't push it. As someone else said, maybe get a second opinion.

    Take care!

  • Well I went back to the Dr. Friday. He said that he could do the pain injections. But, felt that it only masks the problem and he felt that once you start with invective procedures that sometimes the problems just get worse. So now I don't know what to think.
    He also said that I have a strain lumbar? WOW! I am so confused now. The last apt. he said it was a sciatica issue. Since this was the first I heard of a strain in my muscle! He said that my MRI and X-rays showed stuff that anyone at my age would have on them. He all so said that the annular tear is just the Dr.'s way of making money. So if he isn't worried about the bulging disk ect... what are the injections really suppose to help?? I was under the understanding that that was for disk pain.
    I am under the impression that it is time to have a second Dr. Look at all my MRI and X-rays to get a straight story and diagnosis. All I know is that it takes me a day to recover from PT and then go back to do it all over again.
  • I just became curious about arachnoiditis. What kind of condition is it? I am curious about different back conditions as I have never received a definite diagnosis. Not enough shows up on the MRIs. Yet I have had serious problems for 15 years. I am 31 yrs old, so half my life. EMG shows ongoing nerve inflammation, but docs don't know what is causing it.

    Have a nice day
  • iv had 6 surgeries in the last 4 months onL4-5 and L5-S1 including a fusion with no relief im in constant pain all pain meds only ease it im under a pain doctor but i need to find out if this is it.
    pain hurts...
  • Yes it's true the say most people will show herniated, bulging disks, osteoarthritis if they had an MRI. But if you research the information it also says that most of these problems cause most people no pain. But what they are leaving out is that these problems can cause some people extreme pain! Everyone is different and these problems may very well be causing you a lot of pain. The doctors cannot tell you what kind of pain you are having because everyone is different! I would definitely find another doctor who will take your pain seriously!
  • Hi,
    I have been in back pain for almost a year now have had 2 hemilaminectomy surgeries that is for herniated disks.I just had my 2nd surgery on Jan 5th
    heck of a way to bring in the new year.Still in alot of pain and had 3rd MRI done and now I have annular bulges with facet arthropathy in l2-l3,l3-l4,and l4-l5.I still am not working and now they are trying to convince me its in my head.The same people from WC who I thought really cared about me has showed there true colors.Do not believe them when they send out a third party nurse who tells you she is here to help you,she is for the WC side and they just want you back at work so they can close your case and your left with pain.Hope there is someone out there who I could chat with about this issue I feel like im the only one
  • hi i have disc bulge l4 l5 and enlarge facet joint ,been off work 6 month driving me mad , i have had 3 treatments radio waves injections ,caudal epidural inj,and a racz catheter all treatments failed ,see a neuro surgeon his going to operate jan ,but no one has informed me of nothing thank goodness for the internet but no one says drive a car or weather you should or not ?
    helen t
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