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Herniated disc, just entered 5th month...

nosaj85nnosaj85 Posts: 6
I'm 25 and have always been fairly athletic. In November I began to get back pain. Not too bad, but I rested as much as possible, stopped exercising, and didn't go out as much.

In January the pain began to quickly worsen. By early February I had been diagnosed with a herniated disc (L4-L5) that became so painful it would sometimes take me 30 minutes to get out of bed (really bad pain in my back and right butt, a little tingling and weakness below the knee).

I have had 2 epidural injections that took away about 50% of the pain, and now, with pain killers, I feel about 75% better for most of the day, but I still hurt in the morning, can't sit down for more than a few minutes, etc. I'm in my 3rd week of physical therapy, but don't feel like I've been improving. The only time I don't hurt is when I'm walking.

It's now been 5 months with some pain, and 3 months with more severe pain. I still can't exercise or do most of the things I would do in my normal life. I have lost 25 pounds, often feel tired and emotionally on edge, my performance at work is hurting a lot, and my social life is completely gone (people stop calling when you don't go out with them for 5 months).

I don't think I'm bad enough that I need surgery, but I also don't seem to be improvingtoo much any more and I'm having more and more trouble dealing with this situation. I'd just like to hear from people who have gone through similar experiences and I appreciate anyone who will share there thoughts.



  • I've lost 15 pounds, not 25. I've had my body fat % checked and the 15 pounds I've lost is all muscle.
  • Nosaj - I'm no doctor, just someone in the same boat.

    I've had an L4-L5 herniation for 9 months, with pain in my back, right hip and right leg. I too have undergone PT, with no success at all. First, I went to a chiropractor, who couldn't help me at all. I went to a PM, had X-rays and an MRI, then I had a series of 3 epidural injections last fall, and they DID help, for 3 months... then the pain returned. Another series of injections did nothing, so my PM doc ordered PT, a nerve conduction study, an MRI, the works. I, like you, have lost 30 pounds.

    My doctor told me that 25% of the time, herniated discs will heal on their own. He said that discectomies improve the patient's condition 1/3 of the time, do nothing 1/3 of the time, and actually degrade the patient's condition 1/3 of the time.

    However, after months of pills, injections, PT, stretching, nothing has changed - my pain has only gotten worse.

    So... tomorrow, I'm going to see a surgeon, about a discectomy, or whatever he advises. I'll get a couple of opinions, but - knowing the odds - I'll opt for whatever it takes, to have a chance of a life with less pain.

    I can't tell you what decision to make, Nosaj. I can only share my experience, and let you know you're not alone, and that there are options. I hope your situation can be resolved without surgery, but a life with constant pain isn't worth tolerating, if other options present themselves... at least in my humble opinion.

    I'll pray for you.
  • Thank you for sharing your experiences. Without the strong visual signs of something wrong, I don't think most people I know really appreciate what I'm going through, so it's comforting to hear from other people who are sharing similar experiences as mine.

    Good luck with the surgeon, and please keep me up-to-date on your progress.

    Best of luck,
  • Hi guys..sorry for interupting. I'm no doctor just someone who has the similar experience too but compared with mrmhead66, i just abt entered to 5 months having difficulties to walk n move. My MRI results shows multiple bulging disc from L2-L5 n having impingement nerve root @ L5S1 n bilateral @ L4..my toes feel numbness n leg pain from my hip until my leg..

    Im taking pills too to reduce the pain - most of it pain killer with stronger doses. Besides that - I go for fisio session, accupunture, traditional massage..- but relief me the pain for a very short period of time. it came back next morning..

    my doc planned to give epidural injections but he said no repetitive one..is that true?
  • Bintu,

    I'm sorry to hear about your experience. I'm not quite sure I understand your question though... I believe most people get 3 epidural injections, and I hear that quite a few people have success with those, though for me they only relieved about 25-50% of the pain, and only for about a week.

    On another note, a few days ago I began a new NSAID, meloxicam, and it has been pretty good. I still can't do most of my normal activities, but after taking it I had almost none of the constant pain during the day and I could once again do (some) physical therapy. It felt great to have a pain free day! Some of the sciatic pain has come back the last 2 days, nowhere near as bad as before, but it's actually really depressing to even have slight constant pain after going a few days without any pain. I'm hoping it doesn't get any worse and that I can have a little more success with the physical therapy now that I can be a bit more aggressive with it. We'll see what happens...
  • Nosaj85

    Thanks for the info..
    Do you seek for 2nd or 3rd opinion on your prob? Is that necessary?
    Well, me too appreciate n aiming a day free without pain..*sigh*
  • Been there, as most of us have. I had similar situation back in 2009...did the gamit of treatments...finally saw and surgeon and then pictures of my back and was astonished as to how messed up it was. Had major surgery, with fusion, pins, rods, etc., which alleviated all pain from left leg, which is where I had my problem. Now, I experience pain in my right leg and, after going to a neurosurgeon, find I need a 2nd surgery (hemilaminotomy/foraminotomy)...however, after years of pain and exhausting all other possibilities, the surgery(s) may be worth it.
  • I did get multiple opinions, but that is because I had a few doctors initially get it wrong. First doctor thought I had a strained tendon in my back. Second said my hip was out of alignment. Third took xrays and said that my lumbar spine hadn't fully fused to my sacrum spine and that I would need physical therapy for the rest of my life. Wanting such a drastic diagnosis verified, I went to a fourth doctor, an orthopedic who focused on the back. He said the earlier doctors were all probably wrong, sent me in for an MRI, and showed me the actual herniated disc.

    While it seems like you already have an accurate diagnosis, I guess that it couldn't hurt to see another doctor, and that doctor may know some tidbit of information that can help you out.
  • Hello,

    I'm Gabi, 31 years old and 3 herniated disc in my lumbar spine. It seems I am in exactly the same situation like you were in 2011, I mean I can seat for ten minutes, I cannot do normal activities, but I can walk. A short history:
    9 month ago I had an MRI the results were:
    L3-L4: 8-12-11 mm
    L4-L5: 9-11-9 mm
    L5-S1: 8-15-5 mm

    Anyway , in this time I stopped working and after 6 month I made another MRI which shows that the dimensions were shrinking. L3-L4 remains the same (the disc is not ruptured here), L4-L5 was 4 mm and L5-S1 was 6 mm. So I continued waiting and hoping to disappear, but another 3 months have past, and now after 9 months I have no idea what decision to make. I would like to go to work, and to have my life back, and I think about having surgery.

    Please let me know, how you solved this problem, if you had surgery, please tell me how you feel now.

    Thank you and best wishes!
  • Thank you, Sandi for these information. Yes, I saw 2 surgeons, at the beginning and after 6 months. At the beginning they sent me to a neurologist for taking medication and recommended to rest and wait. After 6 months I had an appointment to one of the two surgeons and he saw that the dimensions are shrinking, he still recommended me to wait. I insisted to operate me, but he said that I do not have a neurological deficit and if I feel that I made some improvements is better to wait.

    Of course, in the first 2 months I tried to do Ultrasound and Tens, Massage and exercises with a physiotherapist. They did not helped me, it seems that the exercises exacerbate the situation. So, I continued walking 3 times a day. At the beginning 10 minutes, after 3 months I could walk 40 minutes and now I walk 50 minutes. Approximately 3 hours a day on streets without bumps.

    After 6 months, I tried again PT, but it seems that the exercises are not for me. After 2 days I was in a worse condition. I barely could walk because I had more twinge in my legs, foots and toes. So I stopped doing any exercise. In a week I could walk again "normally".
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 04/20/2014 - 9:03 AM
    If you still have difficulty walking and the symptoms aren't improving, you do have the option of consulting with different surgeons. I would encourage you to at least see a different surgeon to see what their opinion is.
  • If you still have difficulty walking and the symptoms aren't improving, you do have the option of consulting with different surgeons. I would encourage you to at least see a different surgeon to see what their opinion is.
    Sometimes, when you are
  • I had the discectomy of L4 and L5. I am 3 and a half months post-op. My pain was unbearable for 5 mos. before to the surgery. My most painful sensation was "electric shocks" down my right leg.
    I have no such pain at this point. I do have numbness and swelling of my right foot that I did not have before surgery.
    But, I am walking, bending and getting along much better than before the surgery. I was told that I waited too long (5mos)
    to have surgery and the nerves were likely damaged from the compression. I am 85% better than I was. I am happy with that.
  • Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I would like to ask you if you are able to seat and how long you can seat without hurting your back. And how much weight you can lift? 1 kilo? Seating is very important for me, because I will have to work, I also have an ergonomic desk, but I found difficult to stand many hours. I hope you will be fully recovered in the future.
  • mellymellymmellymelly Posts: 1
    edited 07/30/2015 - 1:11 AM
    Hi there,

    I know this is an old post, but I'd like to comment in the hopes that his helps someone out there.
    I suffered from a herniated disc back in November 2013. I'm a teacher and although I'm on my feet all day in thhe classroom, the job requires lots of prep time and marking. That particular month, I had a TON of marking to do and I didn't notice that I would hunch over when I did so. I should also note that I was a very very active person (exercsing 5-6 times a week).

    By Christmas time, I felt numbness on my right hips. It was so weird. I also felt pain on my upper back and would constantly get headaches because Iof it. I ignored it for a whole continuing to exercise rigorously as I normally did. But the numbness continued and the headaches were awful. I finally decided to see a physiotherapist and she diagnosed me to have herniated discs (upper and lower back). It was a combination of many things, but it was primarily caused by terrible posture, prolonged sitting and bad exercise form.

    Needless to say, it was a scary and depressing time for me. For a few months, I had the "why me?" Pity party talk A LOT. But then I realized how unproductive that is and started to do things to help improve condition. Here's what relally helped:

    1. Set small goals that you want to achieve. When I started to see a physio., I would have a "short term goal" list that I'd make for myself. I'd put "50% better by the end of the month", get a new hobby, etc.
    2. Cut down on very rigorous exercise.
    3. Focus more on strength and developing back muscles to push those discs back in
    4. No downward dog positions.
    5. SQUATS, SQUATS, SQUATS!!! But Iin good form
    6. Butt workouts to increase strength on buttocks
    7. Sit properly and walk more often
    8. Work out upper back muscles (there are lots of videos on it)

    After a while of doing these, I started seeing really good results. I'd still wake up with pain the morning though. UNTIL my physio asked me if I slept with one leg raised (creating a sideways triangle)). I've always done his ever since I can remember. But apparently this is a flexion that can keep the disc in a bulging position), so my final tip for you is:

    Sleep with both legs straight. What I did was I taped my legs together. I know hat sounds strange and creepy, but it made such a difference in my back,

    Warning Before trying anything another member suggests, discuss it with your doctor first. No two individuals or medications conditions are alike. What may be good for one person could be trouble for another.

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