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23 years old, L5-S1 herniated, pinched nerve

YoungL5S188YYoungL5S188 Posts: 81
I am a 23 year old male. About 3 months ago, my right leg started to hurt a bit and I did not think anything of it. Last month, it started to get worse and worse, Went to an orthopedic and got an MRI. Came back with a L5-S1 disc herniation that looks like it is pinching a nerve. I was put on anti-inflammatory for a week which did nothing at all. Then I was put on a 6 day dose on oral steroid pack of Predesone. Half of the days, I was taking it I barely had any pain. The 7th day when I had no more pills, it was back to normal again. Since then it has gotten worse. I only had pain from behind my knee to right before my foot now it is throughout my whole right leg (thigh down), burning, pulsating, stinging, sharp sudden pains, etc.

As of two nights ago, my left leg started to hurt out of nowhere. When I stand up straight without jeans on, there is a bruise right behind my knee where the leg closes. the left leg has been hurting for past two days now. Behind the left knee also feels somewhat swollen possibly.

As of last night, lower back started to hurt, today lower back does not seem to hurt yet today but both legs definitely. right leg is a lot worse then the left leg but left leg definitely is in a lot of pain as well.

This runs in my family. Father and brother both have many issues. Father is now on disability because he has multiple herniated discs, multiple pinched nerves and has had 5 or 6 surgeries with no success. He is basically screwed at this point. He is on crazy painkillers (Fetanol pathces daily and Levo) for his pain cause he needs them but I refuse to start with the vicious cycle of pain killers.

I have a pain management doctor appointment tomorrow afternoon. My orthopedic that gave me MRI referral and the oral steroids said the next step is epidural shots. I feel that all that is is a band-aid for a short term until you have to go get another one.

I am scared for surgery, along with my parents are scared for me because of my father and there can always be complications. I don't know what to do but I feel literally like a 60 year old man and I can barely get up in the morning for the past few weeks to go to work. After work, I go home to my house and lay down and relax until bed. I am too young to deal with this right now. I barely have a life other then work since starting the pain problems.

I'm scared and I don't know what to do.

Any advice or help is seriously greatly appreciated.




  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 10,305
    You will soon find out that there are so many others in your age group that are dealing with similar issues.

    It sounds like you are going about this the right way.
    Getting to see various doctors, having diagnostic tests done and then going on conservative treatments.

    Don't think these are just band-aid approaches. For many people it is enough to get them past the point where, managing their situation is without surgery and just OTC medications.

    Avoiding that first surgery should be a major priority with you. For many, once they have had that first surgery, it seems like the flood gates open. But there are thousands of patients who had one spinal surgery and have never had another one.

    Pain medications along with other essential medications is what is needed at times to manage pain situations. Take a look at our FAQ and scroll down until you see "The Blend" That is something I wrote a while ago and firmly believe in.

    It is important to stay ahead of this. Do not like it build up and get worse.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thank for your reply. I appreciate it. Got my MRI Cd and Report last night. Report shows they found central disc degeneration at L5-S1 region along with inpingment on S1 nerves bilaterally (to both legs), thats why I feel the pain in both legs now.

    As for the painkillers, I refuse to take any painkillers as bad as it may get. I just wont let myself take them.

    Hoping I can get a steroid injection today at the doctor. I'll update after the doctor.
  • Have to wait until the 17th for the shot. I cant wait that long. Doc had no other open appts. Im hurting so much. Its getting worse everyday!

    He gave me hydrocodone 10 325s and they arent helping at all. I hate them but i needed something tonight and it didnt even help. Just made me feel really out of it.
  • Hello Nick,

    I am sorry u are having this issues being so young.. Hang in there tough... I know ifs horrible to feel like 60 being 23.. Many many people get better with conservative treatment.. Pain is better than numbness and I have a feeling within a few months you will feel better.. My left/right legbilateral sciatica last 3 months, then started to subside.. traction FOR ME made it worse , stretching was okay, but honestly what i felt helped me was exercise bike and eventually when i could do the eliptical.. I could not do the eliptical til the 3rd month.. I saw 3 different docs who gave all differrent opinions. one wanted to do 3 level fusion, anohter was MED surgery, and last was nothing.. IF U GOT ONLY 1 level of issues on the MRI and u had 2 MRI to compare I would lookinto Laser surgery.. Reason i say this with only 1 level of issues there is a better chance of success.. I have 3 levels of issues so if theyzap one level it could be another.. My friend did lazer sugery and he has beenhappy for 3 years.. Lazer surgery suppose to not effect anything other than a small possibility of scar tissue but nothing comopared to laminecomy and fusions ,,,etc..

    I am not a expert ... Give it time and take it easy even if it starts to feel beter!
    take care.bggbb
  • I went in on Friday to the hospital where my pain management doctor is located. At 11am he did 2 steroid injections. I'm guessing one for the right side and one for the left side?

    Back was very soar after the injections until the next day soreness got much better. Seems that my right leg which the sciatica originally started in only, is in alot less pain no more pulsating pain or tingling.

    My left leg which started week or two after right leg sciatica started is now unbearable.

    Since the shot though, my left leg has been unbearable even worse.

    Today and yesterday morning was the first days I actually woke up in pain. Usually when I wake up, I feel pretty good for a 4-6 hours and then it gets really bad around 3pm but for some reason last 2 days, instant pain when I wake up. Making it hard to to go to work in the morning.

    Also went to see a chiropractor yesterday because I was not sure what else to do.

    I'm 23 years old and i'm always on the go constantly, i am starting break down because I can't say laying around and doing nothing everyday after work!

    Any suggestions at this point?
  • Hi NIck

    I can definately relate to your condition, I am an active 24 year old male recovering from a herniated disc at l4 l5.

    I suffered with sciatic pain for sometime (at times un bareable) I visited a chiropractor and had 5 sessions of manipulation and acupuncture which gave me no respite at all if anything my pain became worse and more frequent. The chiropractor reffered me to a surgeon and I had an MRI scan where I was diagnosed with my herniated disc, I felt my life was turned upside down and felt very depressed at times I couldnt walk.

    My surgeon recommended a discectomy operation which he advised is around 75% successful with HIGH risks associated, I declined and he recommended I try conservative treatments.

    For the last 8 weeks I have been using Mckenzie(google or YouTube if unsure) exercises to localise the pain in my back, I apply ice to the lower part of my back 4/5 times a day and I am taking on 2500mg of glucosomine sulphate. Since doing this I have seen drastic improvement in the shooting pains down my leg and lower pain in my back.

    I am not stating that this will help you like it has me however if someone would have given me this advice 3 months ago I would have welcomed it with open arms.....give it ago what have you got to lose?

    I am now back at the gym, granted only doing static exercises and plan on returning to rugby in the near future. Good luck and stay strong!
  • Went to see an orthopedic surgeon in Columbia Medical in NYC on friday. He spent about 45 minutes with me explaining everything. He feels that he does not want to operate on me because I am young and feels he will have to see me in a few more years again. He thinks more epidural steroid injections, rehab/PT and exercises will help me and I should be better within 2-3 months. It already has been over 2 months. Makes me confused

    Going to see a neurosurgeon for a 2nd opinion tomorrow and another injection on my left side( worse then my right leg) on Friday again.

    Also i dont know if it is associated but for the past 3 or 4 days my left arm feels a bit weak and my left part of my neck feels weird/stiff.


  • Most orthopaedics will refrain from surgery as they did with me many years ago due to being too young at the time,they like to try alternative treatments first then if all fails then they will consider an operation,unfortunately for us we have to endure the pain for the next few years perhaps some people will be lucky enough to get permanent relief, yet reading many posts a lot of people eventually end up with surgery.
    These injections can help to diagnose the exact spot some work some don't it is a way of finding where the pain is being caused.good luck

    You mention arm weakness this is possible it is your neck causing this hopefully it's just tense muscle causing irritation to nerves and may well calm down in time,I would try using a mix of cold and hot packs to contract and relax the muscles,this is what my physio told me,she said preferably cold over hot.also a TENS may help.

    Best of luck Des

  • Nick,
    EVERYONE IS SO DIFFERENT!! My neighbor had sciatica for ATLEAST 1 YEAR.. She was miserable and that was about 15 years ago.. She told me she was a mess and thought she would never be the same.. For 1 whole years she suffered, then after the first year it started to get better, but for the last 15 years she is very careful cause knows it can go at any time.. Again some people never get better and others get better in MONTHS sometimes many months.. You have to remember ONE very important thing IF YOU EVER feel better that does not mean you are normal or ready to go for a HARD RUN or play basketball etc.. You are going to have to commit yourself to take it easy even though u may feel good.. Nerve issues can be a weird thing.. I mean some people wake up one day AND MUST HAVE EMERGENCY back SURGERY and never suffer a day of back pain before where others are in pain for years and doctors still dont feel they need surgery.. Some people can have ONE HORRIBLE LEVEL of BACK ISSUES and must have surgery when others have 4 LEVELS of BACK ISSUES and never need sugery.. Its a mess and I feel for you but you are not alone.. As far as your neck goes once you are aware you have spine problems ANYTHING will make you think the worse.. Not saying its not something but once u know u got issues its easier to contribute everything you feel to your cervical, lumbar, or thoracic..

    Its fustrating with the pain.. I know!!I KNOW! I am living with it.. As i type i can feel the burning pain in both butt CHEEKS, then when i stand up i will expect the pain to shoot down my left leg.. Hang in there! I have a feeling it will get better soon!! One thing that helps me was staying hydrated and doing indoor bicycle.. THat along with massage therpy(EXPENSIVE) where the best for me.. It took me about 4 months before i could do eliptical with out have PAIN at a level of atleast 7.. Now 4 months after my SCIATICA issues i am at a pain level of 3 to 7 just depends.. Mostly 3..

    Take care!
  • Hi, Nick,
    It seems we have almost the exact problem..my pain started Jan 1st..Happy New year to me.started in my lower left back then started getting stabbing pains,burning and spasms. I also had a bruise in the beginning just like you described. Had an MRI same problem as you but only in the left leg every now and then I feel a little pain in the right. So far I had my first shot on Feb 2. it took about 8 days to start to feel approvement. I also saw a surgeon he said that the disc will heal on it's own it takes several months. Put the disc will never be 100%. in the mean time he told me to do the shots and to either walk for 20-30 min or do the elliptical. Only low impact exercise. So far i'm into About 4 weeks of having this shot done feeling about 50% better. But I do take 800 mg of ibuprofen and I ice several times a day. I also keep moving laying around makes it worse. I'm getting another shot this Wednesday hopefully this works.. Your allowed up to 3 shots a year. I'm trying to avoid surgery and hoping that if I wait long enough that it will slowly go away. I was taking norco after my first shot but now 4 weeks later I'm only taking the ibuprofen and making my self walk or the elliptical 3 times a week. I hope you feel better soon. This pain is awful...
  • I would say think hard about it,surgery at your age is not the ideal situation,yet the Dr thinks it is going to help you,they have a good understanding of different patients pain and recovery.

    A positive side of the operation now would mean you would hopefully not get worse with time causing more and more nerve damage,this is where I was at,I had L5/S1 decompression and fusion in mid Nov,this has been a good surgery for me in one way with a huge relief in my lower back and reduced muscle spasms in my leg,on the downside the nerves were so badly compressed for so long I can not use my foot properly and have other issues with my leg which did not improve with surgery..

    I was never offered surgery in the early days I was told I was too young,now I'm old enough the nerves have had a battering.I personally would go for it before it gets worse.

    My Nephew had a piece shaved off his disc in his back around 1 1/2 years ago not sure what level, he was 37 he now coaches kids football running around with them.

    Has the Dr said what type of surgery was necessary, ie disc trimmed or removed, fusion or non fusion? If it is fused at L5/S1 it often has a good outcome according to my surgeon as only one level needs to move above L5,I am starting to bend forwards much better now than before I thought it would have been more restrictive in movement.

    I was able to research my surgeon online and he is a top surgeon maybe you can do the same before making this decision.

    Good luck.

  • He said a microdisectomy. I'm thinking about going for the surgery. just so nervous though!
  • Hi Nick,That's the same as my Nephew had not too invasive basically trimming the disc bulge to relieve pressure off the nerves,you should recover quickly fingers crossed.

    It is a nervous time but just think about the relief it should give you and the fact you are treating it early before too much damage is done.

    I wish you well

  • Thanks. I appreciate it.
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    I feel bad that this affliction is striking at such a young age.
    I did with me also. And I tried every conservative treatment I could to avoid any type of surgery. And it seems to me that all of you are doing the same. That's good. If you can strengthen those muscles with a spinal specialist doing physical therapy. And if a surgery is unavoidable. Then I would go with the most minimally invasive you can get. And then treat your bad with tender loving care. Because just because you feel better and most of the pain is gone. You may certainly be prone to have other spine related problems.
    NEVER feel it's a green light for contact sports or anything else that causes pressure on your spine. especially lifting weight. and repetitive jarring and hammering of the spine.
    And a fusion should be avoided at all costs if possible. once you fuse a disc, the adjacent discs will have to pick up the slack of supporting the weight and the suspension that you lost. So sooner or later another disc will go out from having to do the extra work.
    But something has to be done sooner than later to avoid nerve damage.
    I hope you make good choices and don't let your youth slip away from you!
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • I had my 2nd round of injections, this time just in my left maximum dose, when he injected the steroid, a stabbing ripping unexplainable pain ran through my whole left leg. it was so bad if i had to live with that pain that luckily only lasted 15-20 seconds i dont know what i would do. It really scared me. doctor said he thought that meant that he got it in the right place this time cause on 1st round of injections, i didnt feel much at all. I noticed this shot was done up higher then the last shot on my back

    2 hours after the shot, i was feeling great, i even went to the mall and walked around and wasnt in much pain other then sore back from the shot. Since last night i have my sciatica pain in my left butt cheek, thigh and calf. and back really hurts still too

    Out of 2 surgeons, I saw, The one that takes my insurance is a great doctor in NYC at Columbia medical hospital. He thinks I really need the surgery but since im so nervous about having the surgery,that i could try physical therapy and another shot and he thinks we should get another MRI done. It IT was approved by my new insurance company, so I will be makign the appointment for that soon.

    Any input is appreciated.

  • Decided to get one last opinion. 2 out of 3 doctors say I definetly need surgery. The only thing I have not tried yet is Physical Therapy which 2 doctors and I believe won't do a thing to fix this.

    I am getting my 2nd MRI of lumbar spine done tonight and march 13th i have an appointment with my surgeon to go over everythign and then I will be setting up the date to have the surgery.

    Quick question, my left side of my neck was bothering me alot, but now it only hurts a little bit but my left arm feels weaker then my right when I flex them, even lifting light items I feel it in my arm. and it seems to hurt all day long. sometimes it bothers me a real lot.

    Any ideas?
  • In really glad I found this site. I was getting so frustrated and depressed about my back pain.
    The story: I've had back pain for a long time time (about 6 years). In Jan it started to get really bad radiating down my bottom and leg causing me to limp and have constant pain any time I stood, sat, moved, coughed etc. Over the years I've tried everything from chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncture, cupping, medication, physical therapy, etc. Finally I submitted to a specialist (in jan) and an MRI found I have a herniated disk at L4 and L5. Friday I received an ESI. I was so hopeful, but was crushed when the pain returned the next day.
    The dr is now suggesting either another injection or surgery. I'm looking for advice or similar stories.
    I'm 27, getting married in September, and have 2 young beautiful girls. I'm so sick of not being able to play with them fully or enjoying outings with them. I'm so worried that I'm going to be in pain as I'm walking down the aisle when that is the last thing I want to be thinking about at that time.
    Any positive ideas or advice would really be appreciated. Thanks guys.
  • Have you taken anything for the pain in your arm and back and did it relieve it? Also if you touch your arm or neck is it sore or is it deep inside? I would call your Dr. about this tomorrow and let him know about your left arm and neck hurting and the weakness and if it gets worse I would go to ER.

    Keep icing the area where you had the injection for 15-20 minutes every few hours so the area won't bruise. I like the gel packs with a thin piece of material protecting my skin. Keep us posted. Charry

    Hi and Welcome Afig, I think you'll get more responses by going to left hand column and find Forum Topic or create content and make a post. Welcome here.
    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
  • Going for the Microdisectomy on both sides because it is a central hernaition on March 21st. not gonna lie. definitely nervous about it.

    Doctor did not seem very concerned about my neck. put in request for MRI but not sure if it will be approved.
    SOme days its okay, it gets worse at night, if i press on some parts of under my armpit or close to right or left of my armpit, muscle for a day, it feels bruised but no bruising on outside of skin.
  • Im Rooting for you Nick!
    Hang in there bud, im also 25 and having similiar issues like your self.Just be thankfull that you have the insurance to get the surgery. Lets cross our fingers, wait and see what happends.

    If he is a good qualified surgeon i would assume it will all go well.

    Only 6 more days!

  • Had microdisectomy. Cut in center of spine, was able to get to left and right side thru the one incision, said most of herniation was on the left side he said right side he had to cut somebone n ligament i think he said but most disc bulge pinching nerve roots was on left side. Was in surgery for little under 3 hours. In tons of pain. Sciatica is rly bad nerve pain in whole left leg.right left hurts but is better then before surgery. Been walking 30 mins for past 2 days daily. Called surgeon today and perscribed me to dexamethasone and stomach pills bc of the steroids. Just really scared that the nerve pain isnt gonna go away, so damn scared...
  • Hi Nick,

    It is very early days and sounds like you have some relief,give it time to settle down the nerve pain may go away once the swelling goes down,you will not know the full effects of the surgery until you have had time to heal properly,When I had my surgery the first two weeks I said to myself ,,What have I done,,, then it starts to improve.

    I wish you all the best Des
  • I am 56 and have 3 lumbar pinched nerves with bilateral pain. Someone reccomended that u get a note from a Dr. for Chiropractic decompression. I was going to do that, but I have no discs to decompress! You do, so you should try it. It helped my Family Docs back. I am so sorry that this has started so young. Mine started 2 yrs ago and without high doses of Prexnisone and Oxycodone, I would be unable to walk. Surgeons say Im too High Risk for surgery for some reason. At 56, I feel doomed. Do what u can to help to lessen the pain. In 10 yrs. Surgery will have come along way and you could have the minimumally invasive Surgery. Medicare wont cover me 100%, so I cant go that route. I.wish u the best. Kay
  • I went back to the columbia medical hospital where i had the surgery because my left leg nerve pain i've had from the beginning is worse since surgery and its in the exact same spot. behind the knee cap down the calf to right before the foot. i do not get any loss of sensation much in my toes but i do my feet when im walking. i do not walk normal and mainly my whole left leg is a 9 or 10 all the time other then laying down i get about a 6 or 7 on pain scale. the hospital did a MRI of my lumbar spine with and without contrast to see if the disc reherniated and he was pleased to see it wasnt but seems to be concerned because in his tons of experiences the leg pain goes away after surgery. he started me on dexomethsone steroids with PEPCID pills before we got the follow up MRI 2 days ago to hope to reduce inflammaton, he though that might of been why worse left leg pain but the steroids have not done anything to help the nerve pain. they also have me on oxycottin 10mg ER, oxycodone 10mg instant every 4 hours, xanex because i freaked out in the hospital because i dont know what to do, im 24 years old and i hate my life living like this. im way too young. i cant deal with the change and that this pain MAY just NEVER go away. they also put me on neurotin 100mg to start with which is not doing anything at all. im in the same pain i was in when i left the hospital but basically they werent doing anything more for me there that they could at the current time because not much was helping the pain at all. it is a very good hospital i just dont know what to do.

    they took the back gauge and top layer steri strips off my back. they said it looks fine and is healing but i didnt have much back pain before surgery and doesnt hurt too much now either even though sometimes microdisectomy cause back pain but just my leg pain is worse no change in back. im not worried about my back. it feels fine given i just had surgery.

    they also did a sonogram to make sure i did not have a blood clot in my leg and it came back negative.

    anybody help please.
  • i am sorry kaywood just at least be happy you are 56. if i was 56 and in the same pain i am in now i would be alot more okay with it but i am only 24 years old. I am still so young!

    Good luck to you!

    As for the surgery, good luck getting it, once you do maybe you be one of the 80 percent that do get leg pain relief that i thought i would of gotten.
  • limpopollimpopo Posts: 5
    edited 11/06/2013 - 7:47 AM
    Hi guys,

    there is proper method what actually cured my
    problem, read my message

    I hope it will help you
  • Nick,

    I started having sciatica and leg and hip pain beginning 4 years ago. I am much older than you, and I am sorry you are experiencing this at such a young age.

    I also had all kinds of epidural injections. I had been seeing a spine specialist at NYU, who I thought was great, but was unable to help me...plus the side effects of the cortisone were very unpleasant.

    I had pretty much just started to take pain pills, which work, but I am cannot take them because of my job, so that was a problem. I also don't want to become a drug addict, and I could see that as my future.

    A friend of mine at work suggested I try ART (Active Release Technique). She told me of her friend who has been treated with ART and has been very pleased. I had never heard of it. So, of course, I didn't listen to her...how could that possibly help??? Finally, out of desperation, I tried it. I went to a Dr. who is also a chiropractor, but this is very different than chiropractic practice.

    Anyway, after 4 ten minute appointments, over 2 weeks, my sciatica pain is GONE!!! I am still seeing him for some hip issues, but I feel like I have gotten my life back.

    Please "google" Active Release Technique, and find a practitioner in your area. BTW, they aren't always chiropractors. Sometimes they are massage therapists.

    I hope you get some relief and live the good life you deserve! Let me know how it goes!
  • I am 47 yrs old and now going through the same thing, herniated disc at L5 pinching s 1 nerve. I have had lower back pain for about 3 years and 2 injections. The new symptom that is causing me to go for a third is that I have lost a large amount of strength to my right calf and ankle which is causing me to walk with a limp and running is out of the question. Sciatic pain has been present throughout the process. I was wondering what you think may be the cause or a contributor to your condition? I my work requires me to sit at a desk for 8 hours daily and I never feel worse than when I get up to leave for the day. Hope it gets better for you.
  • Wish I could say I was doing better. Went in for my 2nd surgery on April 24th, Doctor said he found a pinched nerve on my left side of L5/S1 and he freed it. Checked the right side to make sure 1st surgeon who operated last year relieved all pressure off the right side and said it looked fine. I woke up, felt better, following day, took a walk, within 30 minutes all pain came back worse then ever. my right leg is the worse it has ever been (which got better after 1st surgery). left leg that this surgeon said he found the pinched nerve, is worse then before surgery. I also got 2 rods and 4 screws put in for stabalization. i'm 25 years old and at this point, im not sure if i can ever work or drive again if my legs dont get better. surgeon is extremely confused.

    im at the end of my rope here. i know i'll never be fine, but i try so hard to be positive, but i'm loosing hope!!
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