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Newbie.. help with bulging Disc L5

oc714ooc714 Posts: 54
Hello all I've been reading for the last 2 weeks and finally was able to log in.

About 2 1/2 wks ago I woke up with intense pain in my right leg and was unble to walk without feeling pain that I have never felt in my life. Went to see my Primaryand gave me a cortisone shot and sent me away with patches and ibuprofen. The next day was even worse I couldn't stop crying with the pain so my husband rushed me to the ER. All they can do is shoot me with pain medicine that made me confortable.My pain can be intense but still not able to walk more than 2-3 minutes with out cringing from the pain and lying down makes it better.

I asked my primary to send me in for an MRI and the findings are here below:

Diffuse disc bulge 4-5 mm at the L4-5 disc level there is displacement of the posterior longitudinal ligament and conpression of the anterior aspect of the thecal sac with inpegement of the L5 nerve roots bilaterally. The neural Foramina are narrowed bilaterrally. Spinal Canal is normal.

Anterior Disc bulge of 3/4 mm at the L3-4 and L4-5 disc levels.

He sent me to a neuro and he consulted with me and he stated give it time and take lot's of ibuprofen and accupuncture. I take about 6 Aleve's a day and I prefer not to take the Vicoden since I have 3 kids and it makes me angry (or it can be the pain I have). I'm 33 yrs old.

My husband is not that supportive and he just say's get the epidural. I decided to take a leave from work for about 4 wks to see If I can take it easy no bending, twisting, or lifting.

I know it's only been over 2 wks but I noticed I cry more easily so my sister's think I might be getying depressed. i do not want surgery so please if you can please let me know what other things I can do I will talk to my dr.


  • I should als say I have numbness on my big toe and the top of my foot.
  • What about a second opinion. I find it surprising that a dr recommended acupuncture. Anyhow, surgery should be a last resort (in my opinion, and that's all it is) but, living in pain and in tears is a lousy alternative.

    See another doctor. A different neurological surgeon or orthopedic spine specialist.
    They should have some options for the leg pain and numbness. They can try a medrol step pack or a stronger steroid like prednisone ( though the stronger the dose, the ickier the side effects...but all manageable). If you get any relief from that, there is a good chance the ESI injection will work. I know there are a few types of epidural type injections. I do think rest, walking, no bending, no twisting, no lifting can make a difference and worth a try.

    If you don't like vicodin ( can't blame you), there are other less intense options for pain like tylenol with codeine. I was given percoset and do not like it.

    Have you tried to ice your back? It might help too.

    You sound more frustrated than depressed but if those around you are worried, you do want to keep that in mind. To me, sounds like you just need another opinion to give you some options if the resting idea doesn't work.
  • Sorry, that should have said neurosurgeon.
  • Hi, I do not have quite the same symptoms as you (mine is S1/L5, more than L4/L5) but I've had leg pain from bulging deteriorated disc for over six months.

    A bit like you, I struggle to walk or stand up, I cannot sit or bend forward or lift anything. Months of getting worse, better, worse, better, symptoms changing, trying various medications, eventually bringing my life to a total halt except for trying to get to grips with my body. Here's my personal experience:

    Firstly, bad mood definitely comes with pain! As said above, you're suffering from frustration more than depression, even if it's easy to get low on bad days.

    Secondly, medications work two ways: painkillers help you keep active (which your body needs to produce healing nutrients) and anti-inflammatories work at reducing the irritation on your nerve; however they do have side-effects, especially on the long-term, so do not hesitate to dump them or look for alternative (more organic) ones.

    Because of them I suffered skin rashes, constipation, landed at A&E (ER) a couple of times, breathless and panicking; plus a doctor decided to refer me to a psychotherapist to deal with my anxiety of going out! Guess what, most of these symptoms totally disappeared after I stopped taking pills. See what works for you.

    Thirdly, practice appropriate exercises a few times a day. That's so important, your body will not heal if you are inactive, learning specific exercises also help being active in a 'healing' way. They're the only thing that works for me (slowly) and keeps the operation at bay. Even operations must be followed by these exercises as a mean of prevention against future relapse. So the sooner you get started, the better! Beware of what you're told though, see different practitioners (you will learn a bit from each of them), read online (this site for instance) and look at videos. Don't overdo anything!! Gentle and often, until you know what you are doing.

    My exercises are very 'simple' (lifting a leg for instance), based on strengthening the deep stabilising muscles. It's taken me two months to get to hear about these muscles, then find them in my body and start feeling when they work. I read that good exercises should send the pain up (from the leg to the lower back) and these seem to do that... I alternate exercises with relaxation (and household duties), for instance lay on my front and massage my back, stretch, massage and relax.

    I hope that you will recover quicker than me! I did have a couple of falls/relapses. But I thought I'd share my experience, since I've been a little while into it and drawn some conclusions. Don't panic, your body does heal!

  • My primary stated that PT wouldn't help. I'm trying to atleast keep alittle active but not sure if I would irritate the never even more. I notice my back is alot stiffer that before mostly because Ilay down most of the day.

    I called a 2nd neuro but they don't have any appts until 3 wks. I'm thinking of visiting a chiro and maybe he can refer me for PT.
  • Sorry to hear and hope the back and leg pain resolves for you. Has your Dr. said to go to Physiotherapy yet? When I had leg numbness and weakness my Dr. sent me for an EMG/nerve test for the leg and saw the Neurologist who does part of the EMG.

    I also take Cymbalta and Lyrica for nerve pain in the leg not sure if you're Dr. could help with nerve pain meds to see if it will help ease the pain? I started with Amitriptyline and then tried Cymbalta which really helps with the leg and lower back pain and for me had no side effects.

    This us a great support site and welcome here. 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
  • No my DR has not recommended Physiotherapy? Not sure what that is and if it's something my insurance cover's but at this time I am willing to pay out of pocket for anything. When i went to the Neuro he just stated to give it time and that I was referred pretty early. i just want to get back to walking without pain and can do with the numbness. yes. maybe i am more fustrated that usual watching everyone walk.

    My Dr gave my lyrica 75 mg but the side effects scared me and have not taken them. Mayve it's something I should try.
  • I didn't know what PT is either when I first went there... The therapist looks for exercises which are good for you, shows you how to do them properly, answers most questions you might have and, on the whole, gives you confidence to move on. Weekly sessions might be good at first, so that you can discuss progress and problems frequently.

    I found it hard to trust my physiotherapist at first (especially as an earlier misdiagnosis from an osteopath had worsened my conditions by doing wrong exercises), but repeated sessions helped breaking the blocks. Found it also quite emotional to finally have someone to talk to, working with me!

    Haven't tried chiro myself but I hear it's really good for sciatica. Haven't tried acupuncture, but a lot of people report it didn't help, I guess it depends on particular conditions. You're right to try different things, as I said you will learn a little from each experience.
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