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L5S1 Herniation and DDD, attempting pain management over surgery

mackinmmackin Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in New Member Introductions
Hello! I am a 36 year old male and have had chronic back pain since last Oct. After speaking with my primary care physician, physical therapist, an anesthesiologist, a chiropractor, a neurosurgeon, and a orthopedic surgeon and having weeks of physical therapy, 2 X-Rays, 3 MRI's, and 5 lumbar epidural cortisone shots the diagnosis is degenerative disc disease along with a L5S1 herniated disc. The orthopedic surgeon offered spinal fusion surgery for the L5S1, but told that the best results would probably be 40% reduction in pain and that would only last until another disc required fusion and, of course, there was a chance that things could go wrong and I could actually get worse as well. I told my PCP that I am not ready to sign up for a lifetime of surgeries just yet and would like to pursue alternative treatment plans. In my mind I think this is the right way to go, but some days the pain is really bad and I feel like I would do anything for guaranteed relief. The negative effects of the pain meds are starting to outweigh the positive, so far I have been on hydrocodone, oxycodone, and tramadol. My doctor is in the process of referring me to a pain management specialist, so I look forward to getting a better med plan. I am also considering finding a specialist who can perform a discogram, sometimes I feel like the doctors are not completely sure of themselves and would like to find exactly where the pain is coming from.

I also want to say that I appreciate those that made this website and I have already found it to be a great source of info. Thanks!


  • Sorry to hear but why not just a miscrodisectomy for the herniated disc if all conservative measures aren't working? I also agree to get a discogram to see if that disc is your pain generator. I had a L5-S1 herniated disc but it healed and still have the same pain from the DDD and sciatica also.

    Do you have sciatica in your leg? If so did they do an EMG/nerve test to see if there's a compressed nerve?

    I asked for a discogram but once the herniated disc wasn't seen anymore on the MRI they say nothing they can do except injections and pain management with meds.They say I'm not a candidate for surgery so I hope you can get relief with conservative measures or get a second opinion or third for surgery. Best wishes. 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 Charry,

    Thank you for welcoming me. I had sciatica pain come and go from Oct through May, but I haven't had any since May. This pain included shooting pain and the tingling that went from my butt to the heels of my feet. When this pain started, I even lost control of my bladder once. They never did a EMG/nerve test. Right now my pain consists of a sharp stabbing pain in my lower back, aching pain around my hips, and a severe burning pain in my upper left thigh. I did ask the neruosurgeon about microdisectomy, but he told me that it would not help and that my pain was all discogenic, my MRI reports only say abutment on the nerve and not impingement.

    My understanding about the discogram is that it can help find the right spot to put the injections. I would love for an injection to work just so I could go off the pain meds for a couple of weeks.

    Thanks again.

  • hi and welcome to the forum! we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. i think you will find yourself feeling better once you get under the care of a good pain management doctor.he will treat you with a treatment plan and many different modalities.. please enjoy the forum and make yourself at home! stop by anytime! good luck! Jenny :)
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    You sure have a lot of people involved in your care. That should work to your benefit...I would hope.
    I've had several epidurals and I only benefited from the one for my right foot pain. It's considerably lessened..but all the others actually made the pain worse..and the nausea..yikes.

    I think you're right about docs preferrng to know what's going on and uncomfortable when they feel they don't know or can't help.

    My EMG helped so much with my doc understanding and actually believing me. And having a doc focused on lessening my pain..priceless. The pain is still there..but the edge is off and it keeps me out of the ER.

    There's a lot of info here and a lot of people who can speak to your particular situation better than I. Just wanted to welcome you and hope you find relief for the pain you're in.

    Take care!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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