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30y Male, L5-S1 bulge, help

Hello All-
A little background, -30y M active duty Infantryman (lotta weight on my back for long distances). Approx 2 years ago sciata down my right leg / seere hip pain started. When I had my first bout with it, I could not bend over for two weeks. Saw doctor, did MRI, said a little disc closeness and some liquid in right hip socket but other then that all was well. Fast forward to two weeks ago, been in PT for "hip" pain, everything has been feeling better, some days better then others. We moved across town (lotta couch/box/dresser lifting). Pain in lower back, go to bed, wake up and as soon as I stand completely erect I get the first muscle spasm on my lower back I have ever had. I think I have a pretty high pain tolerance, and this was an 11. I literally couldn't move, was screaming and crying on the ground as the spasms occurred every 30 seconds (so bad I literally couldn't move except clawing on my carpet). Wife had to call the ambulance, they morphined me and got me into the ambulance. If I even took a deep breath A spasm would start. So in hospital, all doped up, do an mri and find moderate disk bulge right side L5-S1. Give me an epidural, I have another one this thursday. I can walk mostly normal, cannot bend over t the knees, they have me on steroid pills and hydrocortone out the ying yang. My ortho explained that the steroid injection with the epidurals and proper PT and I can be healed up pretty quick. Luckily I am an in a instructor position in the army now and can skirt around pt for a few weeks (months if needed). They recommend 3 epidurals and PT before going for possible surgery. Problem is now with the drawdown in the Army, a back surgery can be grounds for a med board. Just not sure what to do , does anyone have any experience with this and has gotten better with just epidurals and PT/meds? I cant be strung out on these to much longer. THanks for the long read


  • This is actually a repost from someone I messaged before. But I thought I'd chime in and give you some feedback.

    Glad you found the forums. I'm also a 30 y/o active male. They say the people that eventually wind up posting less and less on this forum are the ones that eventually get better. I guess you could say I'd be in that category. At least for right now...

    I've got about 1.5 years since the initial injury, no surgery yet. Life since last year, and since the injury have VERY slowly gotten better. This isn't to say I haven't had good/bad days. Because I've had some doozies where I wanted to go directly to the operating table. Ugh!

    I got an epidural injection at about 6 month in. Didn't help. But lets say for the sake of argument it did. All it really is ( in my mind) is a bandaid solution. The pain will most likely return and you'll have to get another eventually.

    Anyway, the pain has started to return, most likely because I am sitting far too much (i'm a graphic/web designer).Hence I have returned to the forums.

    What did seem to help:
    -Getting a standing/sitting adjustable desk at work. It was awkward at first, but my body eventually got used to it. Sitting puts an extra 35% load on the spine and I could definitely feel it at the end of the day.
    -Morning stretches that the physical therapist gave me. And some I found online.
    -Less caffiene/energy drinks. More water. (better diet, this should probably go without mention seeing as were both active guys, or at least we were before this back shit started!)
    -Core exercises that don't put too much pressure on the spine.
    -Hanging from pull up bar or even better from the dip equipment in the gym. I can literally feel my back decompressing. Feels great.
    -Inversion table feels great.
    -Myofacial release seems to make sense, but sometimes it flat out hurts. In a bad way. Maybe I'm doing it wrong.

    What I am planning on doing in the next few weeks.
    -Revisiting the Doctor/Surgeon. And inquiring about trigger point injections. My thinking is that if I've done all these exercises and work for 1.5 years, gotten better, but now suddenly plateaued and gotten a little worse, something else is hindering my progress. Keep in mind, I want to be 100%, not some sort of a shell of myself as I am now.
    Trigger point injects may rule out that its the disc that causing the pain, and possibly other things.Overly-strained muscle or tendons that might be irritating the Sciatic Nerve, possible the SI joint or surrounding tissues.

    What really drives me nuts is pinpointing the problem. Which has proved impossible to this point (or else I'd be cured by now!;)) Every doctor has their opinion, but no one is 100% sure. There are SO many things that could be causing my back pain, and the actual disc is many times not the culprit. Irritated nerves, overly strained muscles, muscle imbalances. *sigh*. The list goes on...

    -If those Trigger Point Injects dont do it and the pain persists long enough, its time to operate. I've had enough ups and downs.

    Ya know, after all the pain I've had to deal with over the last 1.5 years (almost 2) I will never ever question someones back pain. This back pain stuff is a life changer dude, no doubt about it. I was a normal, super healthy guy, this wasn't supposed to happen! Ha


    haha, so yes in short, i have gotten better with just PT pretty much. PT, and lots of pain and patience.
  • Oh, I'm also curious about your "hip" pain. Can you go into detail on what kinds of pain you're having? For me, my left hip and glute feel like there permanently tight and in pain.
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Thanks for the responses. My thing exactly- very active, army blah blah. Wasn't supposed to happen. I just had my second epidural and I feel a load better. Pt appointment next week to start working on that. Also with my hip pain, just a deep knot is the best way to describe it.
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