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L5-S1 an tear no nerve compression BUT sciatica

artistdelightaartistdelight Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Lower Back Pain
To make a long story short --- 6 months of wrong diagnosis of hip trochnatic bursitis from three different doctors (2 general pa & 1 back ortho) since the small herniated disc of my annular tear was not showing nerve compression. Finally after tolerating sciatica for nearly 8 months I decided on one more Orthos opinion but this time getting one specialized in the hip, since that is what they kept telling me --- its in the hip. So he checks me all out take the neccessary hip xrays, not done before this, does the phyical exam and assures me there is nothing wrong in my hip. He suggested that though the MRI is not showing compression that some people produce alot of inflammation (the bodies defense mechnicism) and this could be infact irritating the nerve. I have been on NSAIDs for 8 months and they are not doing the job so he sent me to a wellness / pain doctor. He gave me the cortisone injection in the back to help neutralize the inflammation. I felt a change within two days YEAAAHHHHHHH. BUT of course after 3 months its starting to come back again and found out that injection cost over a 1,000.00 even after my crappy insurance covered a little of it.

So in all will I have this problem for awhile? Would it be adviced to seek out a different job since I work for a grocery store lift, stooping, leaning, and such for 6 to 8 hours per day?

I have read that this kind of disc herniation should heal by its self within 6 to 8 months but can not figure out why mine is being such a pain in the butt (litterly).

Just so you know... I am 41 years old women at 109 lbs standing 5' and 5" tall and generally in good muscle tone.


  • Hi there,

    Sounds like the injection helped a lot! People I know who have had them told me the 2nd time lasted even longer than the 1st shot. They had ESI's (epidural injections which you have to go to hospital for).

    Did the doctors recommend Physical therapy?
    It might help. When my sciatica started up, I was in the restaurant business managing but I jumped in where needed to make sure we got out at a good time. Long story short, I found certain motions like sweeping or inventory loads/unloads were tough on me. The PT helped in that they taught me exercises to keep my core muscles strong which are the key to controlling further damage to the spine. They also gave me things to watch for and how to 'unload' (relax) the spine at days end.

    If you can tell the difference b/t days you work vs. don't work, then maybe it would be worth looking for something else just in case you get to the point where you think it's doing you more damage.

    As for your prognosis. What did the doctor who gave you the shot say?
  • Been suffering from back pain since 1997, after snow removal this past winter pain got unbearable. started seeing my pain management dr again ,along with a neurosurgeon seems my injury has progressed. I need a ALIF surgery.was supposed to be in surgery first week of May but one of my surgeons cant join the team until late July or early August. If anyone has any suggestions on how to deal with the wait will be greatly appreciated. After my discogram the pain has 10 folded. Thanks Johnny Cross
  • I have 2 ideas for you:

    Have you done PT for your back? I know you were doing it for your hip, so I don't know if you ended up with any core exercises for your low back. If not, you might consider seeing a good spine physical therapist. Torn discs cause some of the little muscles (multifidi) that support the spine to shut down, and a spinal physical therapist should be able to give you specific exercises to re-activate these muscles. This could help take some of the pressure off the spine and give you pain relief. I would recommend that you seek someone at a specific spine physical therapy place if there is one in your area though because they tend to be much more familiar with the mechanics of what occurs to the back muscles when discs are injured.

    Second, if you are having significant pain from the sciatica (which it sounds like you are) you might ask your doctor about trying one of the anticonvulsant drugs (Neurontin or Lyrica). These drugs tend to give fairly good pain relief for nerve condtitions, so while they won't fix anything they could make your life much more tolerable as you wait for the disc to heal.

    Finally, there are some discs that simply do not heal on there own for whatever reason. Your doctor will need to be your guide, but I would ask him how long you should wait before you start looking into the various treatment options for annular tears.
  • I had a small herniated disc on my first MRI and 18 months later was not seen on my 2nd MRI. I had to stop working and go on short term disability then LTD. But my disc was seen in contact with a nerve. An annular tear can leak out painful chemicals to irritate a nerve. But now on my 2nd MRI no herniated disc was seen but I have Degenerative discs and the Dr. thinks there must still be nerve involvement with this. I went to Physio and acupuncture and used a platinum infrared heating pad that helps the low back and leg pain still. Perhaps a Physiatrist rehab Dr. would be able to help you out. I have to return for more injections in a few days. I hope you get some pain relief. 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
  • hi i hope someone can help please, ive been diagnosed as L5 S1 disc bulging and tear, it has been nearly two years of pain and sciatica constantly. i ve had nerve blocks done and recently and epidural all of which has not resolved the extreme pain im in. I work full time as an AE nurse so i am constantly on the go (in a fashion) and im really struggling i have constant medication and im due a spinal consultant review in october is there anything else that can be done for me, the PT has now referred me back to the spinal team because we have literaly tried everything acupuncture, exercise manipulation the lot. I dont think i can handle this pain for much longer.....
  • I'm sorry to hear that you're living in so much pain. We seem to get a lot of nurses here. It's sad that people who dedicate so much of their lives to helping others often end-up with their spines paying such a price. Is your S1 nerve root compressed by the disc? You seem to of tried most of the concervative approachs, have you had a recent surgical consult? How recent was your last MRI, has it got worse over the last 2 years?
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • thanks for your concern, recent MRI shows no further advancement of the bulge but does note arthritic changes to the facet joints, it does not show occlusion but abutment (side by side) of the disc bulge to sciatic nerve. My symptoms have worsened and daily life can be very difficult at times i used to be able to run everywhere now i feel like i have the body of a pensioner LOL sorry for the reference but if i dont laugh il cry x
  • Oh I know! I caught sight of myself in the mirror hobbling along...I looked like Ozzy Osborne shuffling around!! Ugh!!
    Can you pull your consult forward? Stay strong & keep hold of the laughter, it really is the best medicine (or a close second to Opana!)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
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