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21 yr old with Herniated Disk

malditammaldita Posts: 9
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:51 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hi there..
I found this site while browsing Google about my back pain.

I was diagnosed with Scoliosis when I was 14 but was told that it wasnt severe enough for a surgery, and since I was done with puberty, it wont get worse since my bones wont grow.

I'm 21 years old now, haven't had motor vehicle accidents, haven't worked in any type of labour jobs and havent been involved in any high activity sports.

On Jan 17, I woke up with severe pain and coulnt stand/walk/sit. I stayed in bed all day, I thought I pulled a muscle. The pain got worse within a few days and I was at the ER twice, first Dr said it was a pulled muscle. Then, 2nd Dr said it may be a sciatica nerve pinched. X-ray and blood result showed normal. I was prescribed percocets, and I went to PT three times a week.

Things got better and I was scheduled to return to work on March 21, but during the week March 14th - 20th, I was feeling severe pain again and on March 19, I went to the ER..Dr suggested surgery or spinal decompression after I told him what's been happening.

Then, on March 21, I received my MRI results..it says this:

The L5-S1 levels shows mild disc space narrowing and disc degeneration.

In addition, there is moderate to large extruded central to left central herniation with near complete obliteration of the thecal sac and marked left S1 nerve root impignement. The remainder of the study is unremarkable.

I am now waiting for an appointment with a neurosurgeon, which will take 8-12 weeks.

I'm lost, confused, depressed and sometimes I dont even want to wake up anymore. I dont know how this happened..Does anyone have any similar situations? Should I go for surgery or is there still hope if I continue PT or have spinal decompression done.

I appreciate all of your help.


  • I forgot to add that I purchased lumbar back support belt and TENS machine to use at home as well.
  • I think you should get a second opinion and go from there. don't give up and don't get down I know what you going thru but just hang in there.
  • Thanks Payo. Its been very depressing..It takes so long for me to even get one single appointment for a neurosurgeon :(
  • I am sorry that you are in so much pain . how many drs have told you that you need surgery ?. maldita if you have any question you can pm . i already went to three back surgerys I know deprission makes thing worse but what can we do.send me a pm if you like or want to ask some things.
  • Everything is scaring me, I do NOT want to have surgery but from the looks of it, and from my MRI report, it looks like I do need one because the disc is basically out already.

    Physio said I would need surgery
    GP (Fam Doctor) said I would need surgery
    Rheumatologist said I should speak w/ a neurosurgeon but that most of the time, the back gets better

    I am waiting for the neurosurgeon..I hope I do not go through surgery.

    Thank you so much for your input backache99
  • Hi there & welcome to Spine-health!! You have time to consider your options and to seriously give your condition some time and thought before you make any rash decisions. In the meantime you can learn all there is to know about your condition so that when you go to your appt. you will be prepared and better able to ask the proper questions. Knowledge is power, and the more we know the less fearful and the more in control we feel. Many times in life we feel that we have no control, but the more we learn the less likely we are to make mistakes, and the more likely that we feel better and more confident about the serious decisions/choices we have to make. Here is a link to learn about your condition, and there is a lot of information here; http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/herniated-disc
  • Thanks Robin, I will be reading about it.
  • Hello Maldita and welcome to Spine-Health! I just read your post and realized we are kind of in the same boat.

    I am also 21 and have been trying to rid my horrid back that I have been having for nearly 2 years now. I have a herniated disc, a torn disc, and DDD. I have also been to numerous doctors seeking the right solution.

    Like backache99 said, if your pain is interfering your life in an extreme manner then surgery just may have to be the solution.

    It took me a year to finally come to the conclusion that I need to get this surgery (360 lumbar fusion). I don't know about you but this back pain ruined my life. I had to drop out of EMT training, can barely work 2 days a week, and lost my social life. I spent my 21st birthday recovering from a discogram!

    But enough about me. What I am trying to say is that there comes a point when you have to decide if the way you are living now is the way you want to continue living for the rest of your life. We are only 21 and have the rest of our lives ahead of us!

    Just be sure to do a lot of research on your condition and the doctor you choose. Spine-health has been very helpful for me and I'm sure it will benefit you as well :)
  • Do you have problems when you're lying down, or does the pain go away then? How is sitting? Each case is different. I think if you wait some longer, it could improve. My situation was bad enough, and it lasted 12 weeks, and was only a "mild" herniation. I think the severe / large ones would logically take longer to resolve. The spine surgeon I consulted told me that he didn't operate prior to at least 3 months of waiting. By the 10th week I could see enough gradual improvement that I knew I'd be OK. I did try a lot of different approaches all at once, like TENS unit, used gabapentin (prescribed), hydrocodone some, tylenol, aleve, ICE PACKS (which are great), avoiding hot baths and heating pads (they feel so good, but make the overall inflammation worse).

    Try to keep your mind off the pain however you can, and try things like lying down for 10 or 15 minutes, every so often, to relieve some of the pressure. Make some long term goals, so you can have something positive to strive for. Despite all your best efforts, about 15% of cases ultimately benefit from / require surgery like diskectomy or decompression and fusion.

    Good luck!
  • first let me say i am no stranger to pain {i am 15 years down the line 2 operations and now waiting for a third {an ALIF fusion 3 levels this sept} i have gone from a fit slim man to an over weight ill person on strong pain killers i have also had 10 years of pain management including all the spinal injections and physio etc ..all to no effect i am now 44 and on my second marriage i have not worked for 14 years too .life is hard a depressing ...so to answer your question ..ask yourself some questions ..first can you sleep /walk/shop/eat/enjoy sex/drive/etc with a reasonable about of enjoyment ?? or do you go to bed wake 3 hours later and find yourself crying in pain everyday? if its the last option then maybe its time to go for the surgery but make sure that you find a consultant with an excellent reputation ..as you are young and as time rolls on by you will more than likely need more work done on your back .once you start with spinal surgery it a downward spiral.even if it goes well {and i hope it will} age will get you back in hospital again in about 10 years and you will always have a weak back and maybe need some pain medication ..think long and hard about what i have said .i speak from experience .i never thought that i would be where i am now at just 44 .i am like an old man .spending time on my recliner and unable to have a social or sex life dressing for comfort rather than style and feeling like life is passing you by and all the time thinking why me .so if you can do things and a few pain killers helps you along the way .on my opinion keep out of consultants offices!
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • but you are young and have the knowledge that you need a top end consultant to do any work on your back ..its just my opinion but i would have thought an orthopedic surgeon would have been a better proposition
    good luck hun
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
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