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Hello! (Back/Leg Pain - avoiding/delaying surgery)

Hello Everyone,

I am new here and wanted to introduce myself. I am a 34 year old male. I have had lower back pain for almost 10 years now. It likely started due to several reasons - bad sitting posture, lifting weights, not enough stretching etc. I tried yoga and regular stretching to manage my pain and I was doing okay. Over the years, I did several half marathons and marathons.

About two years ago, during a yoga class, I felt a spasm in my back and I felt sharp pain in the lower back and I couldn't move. I saw a spine surgeon who didn't see anything on the x-ray and send me to a chiropractor. The chiropractor told me the pain is due to leg length discrepancy and gave me a 5 mm wedge to wear in my left shoe. After a few months, the back wasn't getting any better. I had good days when I felt no pain and I had bad days. The pain did cause me to stop exercising regularly and I gained about 15 lbs (I am 5'8" and used to weigh 155-160 lbs but now I am 175-180 lbs).

Earlier this year I started a hard workout regimen with the goal to lose some weight and making my core stronger. After a few weeks, I started feeling pain down my left thigh. It wasn't bad but I knew that the back pain all these years was not mascular but it was discogenic. MRI confirmed disc herniation (small protrusion on left side) at L4-L5. It also showed that I have a congenital stenosis. The doctor asked me to not worry about it and do some physical therapy.

After a few weeks of rest, my leg pain had gone and I started a light workout - elliptical and light weights. After a couple of weeks, I started feeling pain in my left thigh again. My back pain has also worsened. So, I am taking a break from all the exercise now. I am icing my back 2-3 times a day - and still feeling a lot of back pain. My goal is to get myself reasonably fit and avoid/delay surgery for the next 10-15 years.

Apologies for a long introduction, but I wanted to give a complete story. I have already read many posts here and I feel that I am likely in much less pain than many of you - so I shouldn't complain. I hope to manage the pain better and post my experience here as well as learn from others experiences.

I should also add that I work in the spinal field (for one of the big medical device companies) - so I am well versed with the spinal anatomy, various pathologies, treatment options, etc. I will also try to answer any questions where I can based on my experience (not medical advice but more general information).

Thanks for reading my post.




  • Will be interesting to follow your recovery. Hopefully, you won't have one of your own devices popped into your back!

    Continue to take care.
  • You are probably far ahead of most in understanding your issues, limitations and long term prognosis. like you I am trying to postpone surgery but for my cervical spine, currently doing nightly traction. Lumbar I am maintaining by doing periodic nerve blocks and avoiding doing any heavy lifting. Good luck to you, will be interesting hearing how you make out with your back.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • kamgramkkamgram Posts: 483
    edited 12/29/2012 - 7:11 PM
    Welcome ae, I wish I had been as smart as you when it came to taking care of my body and spine. I had first spine surgery in 1994 at age 29 and thought that was it and I was better and would be fine. Well since 2008 I have had 3 back surgeries and am waiting on 3 level fusion but have to have knee surgery first for severe arthritis and cartilage damage. I worked in restaurants were I continually lifted heavy pots and pans and then worked in nursing home where I lifted patients all day long. I would come home from work in tears and not able to get out of car and walk into house until my daughter helped me. I finally could not physically do anymore and went back to school got my CMA and found my perfect job in a doctors office but my spine just kept giving me more and more problems.. I have gained 100 pounds due to not being able to do anything and medications and depression. I have started working on this slowly just feels hopeless.

    It is so awesome to see someone who knows how to take care of themselves and to keep themselves healthy and keep spine healthy. Please keep up the good work and avoid surgery for as long as possible, if not forever, if you can:) Keep in touch with your progress.

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