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Two Bulging Disc, with DDD L4-L5 L5-S1

kkirkpatkkkirkpat Posts: 6
edited 12/05/2013 - 11:12 AM in Lower Back Pain
I am 24 years old, 6'4 and weigh 215 lbs. In 2007, I fractured three vertebra in my lower back, and basically lived with the pain and flare ups until now. I finally went in and had an MRI and was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, bone spurs, and two bulging discs in L4-L5 and L5-S1 with one abutting the S1 nerve. I have been through the ringer with this pain for quite some time now and all I want to do is return to a normal life where I can play basketball and other sports and move around freely without pain. I constantly have to shift positions and cannot remain standing or sitting for too long.

The pain is always present, but with flare ups it gets unbearable. I occasionally have sciatica but it doesn't happen daily. I do not want to be on any medication long term and would like to fix the route of the problem. However, I have been working with a Non-surgical specialist without many results. I have had two epidural injections with no relief, tried low cardio exercising, stretching, losing weight, and resting. I always end up to the point where I can move around and live life minus the sports and running/jogging, but there is always pain to some degree, sometimes worse sometimes not so bad.

I know there are surgery's out there and am more than willing to give one a shot at this point. Has anyone around my age been through this? If so, what route did you take and how were the results?


  • First, I am sorry for what you are going through. Surgery is usually only considered in two situations, one of them being the impingement or potential for damage of the nerves in the spine, and the other to repair a mechanical ( structural ) issue in the spine itself.
    The thing about surgery, and especially spine surgery is that, while there are certain times that surgery on the spine is necessary to prevent paralysis or quadrepelgia, most times it is considered to be "elective" in that, surgery can occur or not....it is not a life threatening situation.
    However, there are no guarantees in having spine surgery, and you can come out of it far worse than you went into . Pain is not a basis for considering surgery, by surgeons anyway.
    What you feel is terrific pain now, can exponentially increase to become debilitating, so I always tell people to make sure that they do their research extensively before going down the road to thinking surgery is a quick fix to their problem.
    The reality is that once an injury occurs, the spine is damaged, and you will not in most cases ever return to what was prior to the injury, so you have to change the way that you do things that you once did...
  • Thanks for the response sandi. I am going in for a second opinion today. The second EPI didn't help the problem. I have to sit for extended periods of time at work, and even though I get up and move around, to stretch my legs and change positions, I still have pain when I sit back down. They have me on Tramadol for the pain as I am refusing to take opiates for various reasons at the moment. I also have a consult with my surgeon in January. Hoping to at least have a clearer picture after my second opinion today.
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,342
    edited 12/17/2013 - 8:44 AM
    I hope that you get some answers today. Have you read this post yet? http://www.spine-health.com/forum/pain/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-treatment-step-step

    It outlines the most likely steps to getting treatment for Chronic pain in the Spine and this is the usual route of treatment steps taken by the medical profession when it comes to treating us. Some steps may or may not be repeated, depending on what they find in the imaging studies, and tests done.
    I don' t know too many of us who have gone down this road, who wanted to wind up on pain medications and they should not be used to avoid surgery, if indeed surgery would correct the problem, but there are times when it might be necessary, at least temporarily.
    There are several nerve pain medications that might help as well, such as Cymbalta, gabapentin and Lyrica, as well as others if the Ultram/tramadol is not helping enough.....
  • Well, some new information.

    I went and received a second and third opinion, both of whom are willing to perform a two level ALIF or TLIF. I am still holding out hope the original surgeon changes his mind, considering the only reason he doesn't want to operate is my age. Now its just time to hope insurance will approve it.
  • ShmooeySShmooey Posts: 89
    edited 01/02/2014 - 12:49 PM
    I was told back in early 2010 that I needed a double level fusion, but he wouldn't operate because I was only 40. Fast forward to now, and I'm looking at the possibility of surgery yet again after a car accident. I can't help but think that if I'd had the fusion back then, I'd be healed by now and probably wouldn't have hurt myself worse when the accident happened.

    I'm not one to rush into surgery, but if something is structurally wrong, it needs fixed. Good luck getting the surgeon of your choice to look at you again. I hope everything goes the way you want.
    (see profile for medical details)

    I *heart* my TENS unit.
  • Update:

    The doctor I want to do the surgery agreed. I am scheduled for a PLIF of l5-s1 on 2.18.14.
  • That's great news! Of course, we all want to avoid surgery, but once you get to a certain point structurally, it's time to get some relief. Good luck with everything. :)
    (see profile for medical details)

    I *heart* my TENS unit.
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