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GreetingZ from Bulgaria - young man suferring

ToxygenTToxygen Posts: 8
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in New Member Introductions
First of all, I want to express my gratitude to the creators and supporters of this valuable resource of information. You are helping a lot of people in an every single minute, guys!

Let me introduce myself! I am 29 years old male, living in Republic of Bulgaria, situated in Eastern Europe. I hope that you will excuse me for my rather unusual English but the most important thing is to understand ourselves and to share our fears and hopes.

Four months ago, in the beginning of July 2010 a strange feeling came up in my left leg when changing positions from sitting to standing - it was the sciatic pain we are all familiar with it. I paid no attention and went to a trip in Sweden and Denmark. The sightseeing was very heavy and my sciatic pain aggravated. So I literally ran for an MRI scan on the next day after I was back home. Here in Bulgaria one has a relatively easy access to all imaging techniques. I am pretty surprised that in countries like USA and Great Britain one has to wait so long for an MRI scan to be done.

The MRI revealed that I have one large disc herniation at L5-S1, that is pressing the nerve roots from the left side. I have also two small protrusions on L3-L4 and L4-L5. The doctors said that they are asymptomatic and that the deal breaker and party stopper is the herniation on L5-S1. Further I made EMG test which revealed a certain degree of damage on my l5 and s1 roots.

I started conservative treatment with NSAID's and a muscle relaxant. They seemed not to help much and a couple of steroid substances have been added, again with moderte or almost no success. I went back to work (I work as an in house lawyer in a Bank) and it was a pretty heavy experience - every time I stood up from my chair, I experienced a very unpleasant and sharp pain all the way down on my left leg. It may be strange but I don't feel any pain in my lower back, only in my leg. The medicines just didn't help, the time passed and it is already October now. I have no foot drop or muscle weakness, it is tbe heavy pain (7-8/10) that I am experincing when chaniging positions, when I sit and incline my upper part of the body in any given direction. I have also a feeling of heaviness in my leg when standing and walking. I visited also a MD in our largest and mosst prominent university hospital, who is specialized in manual therapy. She adjusts me, but I feel moderate to no significant relief. I have tried also acupuncture, TENS, physical exercises, massages - nothing helped.

In the mean time (September 2010), in order to get things more complicated, I was diagnosed with a Deep Vein Thrombosis on my "sciatical" leg. I have to wear compression stocking on it and to take anticoagulant drug (Sintrom) in order to prevent future blood clots. Because of the anticoagulant, I have to proceed with caution when taking NSAID's and other pain medications in order to avoid gastrointestinal bleeding. Cool, huh?

Although my pain is not as significant as the pain of so mny fellow sufferers here, it has its negative impact on my life quality. The pain is there, waiting for a single wrong movement or for 30 minutes of sitting in order to hit me. I can not get accustomed to this horrible feeling! And nothing helps! I don't take any strong analgesics (in fact I don't take any analgesics, because they just diminish the pain and I am not in constant pain). Also I am not feel able to do free my previous activities - travelling, climbing, disco nights etc. Wehn I am travelling in a car, the standing from the car seat is a terrible terrible experence ( you know what I am talking about). I think I can not handle a 8 hour working day in my office, since I have to sit all the time and this is horrible.

I am a bit embarrassed of the doctors here - according to them this is not serious, although the first line medications are not helping at all! The manual therapy doesn't help either! The pain is always there already 4 months!

Last month I visited a neurosurgeon. He said that the herniation is pretty big and it will not be fixed by meds and offered microdiscectomy on L5-S1. Then I got second opinion from another surgeon who said that Ihave to continue for a certain period with the conservative therapy and afterwards we will evaluate the results and the options.

So I am on a crossroad now. Frankly speaking, I don't expect the medications to help me. May be I have to proceed with some other medications like Lyrica or neurontin for the sciatic pain or an antidepressant. But I am very reluctant to such medications because of the side effects and I don't want to be a walking pharmacy, drug dependent sick boy. On the other hand the pain and the other unpleasant feelings in my leg are shattering my daily life and activities. I just can't imagine to live my entire life with that. So what can I do further:

1. Continue with pain management hoping that I will be able to switch off the medications in some point in the future.
2. Proceed with ESI. Unfortunately the doctors here in Bulgaria do not perform this procedure very often and I have to go in a private hospital for this. Not a problem but I am wondering whether it makes any sense.
3. Waiting for the pain to go away, getting accustomed to it in the mean time.
4. Throw the towel and have a microdiscectomy on L5-S1 in the best university hospital, performed by the national consultant in neurosurgery.

Up to now, I have been performing an extensive research in Internet with respect to the radiculopathy problems, disc herniations and the methods of treatment. I got so scared from all the horror stories in the forums and I think that every operation is unsuccessful. On the other side I know several people with such operations and they are doing great. What I am afraid of:

- reherniation
- scar tissue
- instability to spine
- more surgeries, inncluding fusion.
- long time outcome - I am 29 years, what will happen in 10 years, or in 5 or 4 years?
- no effect from the surgery (although they favour the discectomy as suitable for leg pain).
- what will happen to the other levels above that have smll protrusions?

So this is my story. Still ucrtain and in pain. I pray for all people suffering from back problems to find relief from the pain. I have never thought that I will come to such a disaster in my life.

All comments welcomed!



  • Sorry to hear what's going on with your leg pain as well as getting a DVT. Maybe another Surgeon's opinion would help? http://www.spine-health.com/blog/surgery/38-questions-ask-your-surgeon-having-back-surgery
    We're here to support you as you're having treatment or needing surgery. 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
  • Welcome to Spine-Health support forum. You've come to a great place for support and information. The extensive background on your problem, along with the diagnostics and treatments you've undergone will make it much easier for fellow members to give you ideas.

    I herniated L4-5 when I was 25 years old and suffered with it for months. The acute pain finally went away but I was left with nasty backaches every night of my life from that point forward due to being unable to find a comfortable mattress. You've seen a doctor who wants to continue conservative treatment and that makes sense since many (if not most) disc herniations will become asymptomatic eventually even if nothing is done for them. That doesn't mean your quality of life will go back to what it was before the injury, unfortunately. I would think you'd want to pursue the least invasive forms of treatment available to you to see what they might accomplish. It's a very unfortunate thing to injure your back at such a young age, for all the reasons which are becoming apparent to you. Some doctors will simply dismiss you because of your age. I hope that doesn't happen to you and that you can get the proper treatment for you to achieve the best possible result. I don't know much about microdiscetomy but have read numerous accounts here in the forum where that surgery has worked for a short period (maybe a year or two) and then the disc reherniates. Wishing you the best as you search out the best treatment for you. :)

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • Thank you for your support! I know that patience is the magic word in the world of disc herniations but i also want to avoid possible nerve damage. Will discuss it with my docs. I wish you pain free times!
  • Are you still working with a physical therapist? If not, were you given exercises to do at home? Core exercises, as well as keeping your hamstrings flexible, are very important. Do you have aqua therapy there? Water exercises in a warm pool were my favorite form of therapy.

    Also, walking is the best aerobic exercise during early recovery from a herniation. IMHO, I would hold off on anything more strenuous at this time.

    Finally, disc herniations can take up to 18 months to heal on their own. Protecting your back by limiting intense physical activity, bending, twisting or lifting will help the healing process.

    Best wishes,


  • Hi Toxygen & welcome;

    I previously suffered with severe, unspeakable, and CONSTANT pain low back and especially sciatica nerve. My quality of life as well as my families was depressing, to say the least. I went thru injections,physical therapy,ablations, different meds etc. I had bulging discs, same as you,and severe sciatica nerve pain after doing all of the above . I am 8 weeks post-op had a posterior lumbar interbody fusion and two discs removed. Immediately in early recovery, I was astonished that my leg nerve pain was GONE. By removing my discs my surgeon successfully removed all pressure pushing on my nerves. I was extremely scared to have this surgery but I would rather go thru a short,pain intense recovery time than to live every day in chronic, unrelenting pain. Hope u find a great surgeon,or type of treatment and reclaim your life.
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