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L5-s1 herniation.

Diagnosed march of 2012, at it's worst April 2012. Healed for the most part and then went back to work (merchant mariner on tugboats) physically demanding job at times.
This morning I experienced some new symptoms, dull swollen feeling in lower back, occasional random sharp pulse in what felt like the muscle and tingling in the legs, mostly in the shin area but not limited to. Worried of another "flare up" AND of losing my job. :(
Any advice or similar stories shared would be greatly appreciated


  • Well, i can tell you this. I know all about sciatica & L5S1 herniation. Dealt with it for over 2 years including chiro, ESIs, and finally a microdiscectomy. Much better now but it is a slow road after surgery.

    My sciatica was most prevalent when standing, and it stayed that way for a long time. If i sat or laid down the pain would go away. Until it didnt, by the last 2 months before surgery I could barely sleep. Standing & sitting offered no relief. And laying caused pain & severe numbness/tingling too. I didnt feel much back pain during the sciatica bout, actually had back pain before sciatica. Sharp pulses, yep. burning sensations down entire leg, yep. The worst pain for me though was concentrated in the left buttock, which was pretty much on fire all the time.

    So you should find plenty of similar stories here. If your symptoms persist, see a dr asap, dont wait. It wont just go away. Or at least the chances of that are slim. If you try to take care of it fast enough you may be able to get it taken care of with physical therapy or steroids.

    Good Luck!
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • I had the same condition except over a period of 10-15 years. When you start to feel tingling or any pain down the legs, it's starting to get serious. If you can seek some physio, chiro, ostheo or someone to try to calm it down, it's a good idea. Anti-inflamatories work well but don't address the problem.
    For a bulged,herniated or ruptured disc, i was always told to try the Mckenzie maneuver (google it). This arching of the spine aids in pushing the disc back into position, to relieve any further irritation. I ended up needing spinal fusion at 1 level (almost 12 weeks ago) and still struggling to function....but improving. Good Luck

    Different degrees of back pain since 1994
    Cortisone shots Jan/09
    Discectomy and lamenectomy April/09
    L5 - S1 spinal fusion July.13th/12
  • Tx MarinerTTx Mariner Posts: 9
    edited 11/01/2012 - 11:33 PM
    Thanks guys. How did it play into your occupations? I've got a family of three to support but no insurance or disability. My worst nightmare is becoming more and more of a reality and its destroying my life. Literally.
    Additionally, today I've got a NEW back pain which is in the middle area of my back and just started out of nowhere. I'm screwed I feel. Starting to really hope that the Mayans were right!
  • To have insurance & I work for a small family owned business that has been very supportive to my situation. I am a machinist by trade, thankfully in 2006 I took over as foreman. I still had alot of physical duties but those ended about 2 months pre-op, and I am nowhere close to resuming. The 1 time I tried to work a machine post-op I hurt myself and basically had to start over at PT. But yeah, if I worked as a machinist still, forget about it. I would be screwed.

    I dont think this is very encouraging to you. Can you link your injury to your job for workmans comp? I am sure my injury was very related to my job but I did not want to seek WC, but I am in a situation where myself & the shop owners work togethor to get through this.

    Does your employer have any way to put you onto different duties, like supervising others to do the physical work you have done for what I am assuming is a long time?

    These back problems are a killer. I know the struggles of depression that go with it. Do your best, seek support on this forum & from your family. Seek other job options if you have to. Look into WC claims. Its not gonna be easy, but you gotta keep truckin, like you said. You have a family countin on it!

    Good Luck Buddy, I hope you can find some answers sooner than later!
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • catfishmanccatfishman Posts: 185
    edited 11/02/2012 - 4:23 AM
    just wondering how old you are ben? i am 42 and in the same situation.
  • I am a 32 yr old retired respiratory therapist. I say retired because I am now disabled and currently waiting to hear something on my social security case. I hurt my back working as a nursing assistant, a very physically demanding job. I hated going to doctors so I ignored my very painful symptoms for 3 yrs. The pain in my left leg had become so unbearable, that i couldn't put weight on my leg. I finally went to the doctor and he sent me to PT which made things worse. I was finally sent for an MRI, only to find out that my L4-5 disc was completely ruptured. Also L3-4 and L5-S1 was bulging. I have had two discectomies and a fusion on L4-5. My fusion was in February of this year. I have also had a fusion on L3-4 in June due to the pressure of the fusion below it causing it to rupture. Now my L5-S1 is herniated, and I have severe sciatica down my right leg. I am expecting to have another fusion sometime early next year. My husband had to change jobs so he could come home to help take care of me, so we do not have any insurance right now. My insurance will not go into effect until 12/22/12. Anyway, my point being I ignored my symptoms for so long that I am left with permanent nerve damage in my left leg. I have no feeling in my left foot. You should seek medical attention immediately.
    Discectomies 05/08 and 04/11, fusions L4-5 Feb 9,2012 and L3-L4 June 28,2012, Staph infection washout 3/2/2012, Bulged L5-S1. SCS trial on January 17th, 2014, which was a success! Permanent SCS on February 20th.
  • Tx MarinerTTx Mariner Posts: 9
    edited 11/27/2012 - 12:50 AM
    I work on tugboats for weeks at a time. I've been using a brace and it really helps when I'm working. The good thing is is that I'm not working ALL the time, on tugs there is a lot of waiting around and down time. I manage quite well while I'm doing my duties but keep having reminders of the damn thing.

    About the workers comp thing, it happened to me at work a total of 4 times. Spread out over the course of 2 years roughly. The company doctor and a separate doctor all told me it was muscle spasms/sprain without doing any real testing other than can you walk on your toes and heels and checking reflexes. Note that every time my "flare up" would occur it was the same symptoms (I.e. inability to sit, stand, walk, move torso or activate muscle group in lumbar region.
    It wasn't until I had enough and decided to go to my own family physician did I receive the correct diagnosis. He immediately suspected a disc herniation and ordered the MRI. Low and behold..... Then my employer let me go. After a stellar 5 year career. Mariners have a separate set of laws than land jobs when it comes to WC. We are "covered" under the Jones Act, which failed me miserably other than medical expenses. I never intended on suing my employer and couldn't prove negligence anyways, and they knew it. My only desire was to return to work to provide for my family. I got a nasty dose of "good guys finish last" I reckon.

    So anyways, now I'm stuck with this condition for life w/ no insurance and no education to get a good job ashore. So I've hired on with a different company (that SUCKS) and am experiencing a new slew of symptoms and issues.
  • Also, when I lay down on my left side in a semi fetal position, I can push or thrust my hips downward towards the floor and mattress and I will get a solid sounding pop. Not a small cracking noise, but more of a "thud" of sorts. Sometimes I'll get a crazy feeling tingle that travel from the source of the pop down the back of my leg just below the knee. I'm sure it's my sciatic nerve. But it feels great when I do this. But never makes anything heal better or anything. Just tired of the stress and worry along with the symptoms.

    Now I've got the problem in my mid back. If I keep my waist still, sitting or standing, I'll drop my right shoulder and raise my left, pushing my left rib cage to the ceiling, only to get a very sharp pain just below my left shoulder blade and to the left of my spine. When it rains it pours huh?
  • I as well have L5-S1 herniation as well as another at C5-C6. Also was diagnosed with DDD. Pain varies from day to day from dull aching to full blown lower back pain/sciatic that extends into my buttocks and down the backs of my legs. Have had several MRIs and the consensus from the physical medicine/rehab doc and my regular doc is that surgery is not be the best option at this time as it could end up causing more trouble than its worth. So I am doing PT and taking nortriptiline to reduce the nerve pain, although not a lot of progress has been made. For intense pain the last 2 years, my doc has me reluctantly taking 5/325 hydrocodone. I say reluctant because both of my docs have been obviously scared by recent prescription opiate abuse scandals and have had me sign a very strict pain management agreement. They both have continuously lectured me about its dangers and that they would prefer I take a larger dose of naproxen or acetaminophen rather than take one hydrocodone. They also tried putting me through a cognitive behaviour therapy which they claimed I could control my pain through thought control which was the biggest pile of BS I've ever experienced.
  • So here goes, im just another case that sounds exactly the same as the rest. Im a 32 year old male and have had increasing bouts of back pain for around 15 years. Finally this has come to a point where i could not function doing the simple things in life without considering my back before i done them. After years of misdiagnosis i now have been sent for 2 mri scans the first showed that i have DDD in a series of discs with gross wearing on l5/s1 and also a bulging disc at this level.
    Then one day at work i put my back out again like i have several times over the years and more frequently in recent times. I was sent for my second mri scan and the results showed a large prolapse at l5/s1 so my gp sent me to a nuerologist and he believes that i have probably prolapsed my disc several times over the years but have recovered on those occasions whereas in this case it wasnt healing. I know how much pressure the thought of losing your job can put on you in situations like ours,especailly when you are laying around trying to recover it is contstantly on your mind. I have recently bought my first house with a large mortgage with my wife and we want to start a family so the pressure i feel is a constant worry. But all that said there is nothing in life more important than your health. My employers have told me not to worry about my job but i cant help but worry. There is no alternative for me now tho and i must go ahead with surgery. The problem will not go away so i must face facts and admit defeat on this occasion. To those who doubt if surgery is worth it i am now going to post a part of my report which my neurologist gave to my g.p "the overall risk of complication is less than 5 percent with risk of major complication less than 1 percent. I discussed that 90 percent of patients achieve a significant reduction in leg pain but that improvement in sensory symptoms is not always achieved. Physical or manual activities should not be undertaken for at least 12 weeks after surgery. I thought it might help you in your decision of whether to have surgery or not. The fact you say you can hear a popping noise sometimes worries me a little as i know someone who has also been through this and said that one day he was lifting something and heard a pop in his back so went to his gp who said this can happen when you prolapse a disc and it was confirmed he had prolapsed his disc. Please dont ignore the fact that you have a problem address it and get it corrected, it will only dictate your life to you if you dont. I just hope your employers stand by you in this difficult time but if not then get some professional advise about the situation and see what your rights are. If you decide to go ahead with it then maybe try to put some money aside for when you are recovering to cover some of your income what you might not get, maybe you could ask close family if they can help you a little until you get back to normal. Speak to your employers and see how they feel about the situation. Ive had 15 years of this and by doing the correct thing i hope to be somewhere near to being pain free in a few months. I wish you all the best, put yourself first on this occasion and go into things with a positive outlook. Im sure things will work out, you might even be surprised how supporting fellow humans can be. Chin up and let us know how you get on
  • Tx MarinerTTx Mariner Posts: 9
    edited 12/08/2012 - 8:21 AM
    I cannot express the appreciation I have for everyone's input. Talking with other people that have similar issues helps with the coping somehow. I'm about to go to school for my captains license so I'll be able to get into a far more sedentary position.
    I'm thinking I'll just tough it out for another 6 months and THEN make a plan to attack this problem.
    We'll see how things turn out, hopefully I'm next in line for a spell of good luck, cause 2012 has flat out SUCKED lol. Sometimes so bad that I was kinda rooting for the Mayans :P
    But no, we CAN get past this. All of us can. Happy holidays and merry christmas to all of you
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