A little background, I am 25 years old and I believe I have had a herniated disc for about 5 years now. The origination was probably a combination of overtraining and/or poor form for a sprint triathlon and weightlifting. Currently, the only treatments I have undergone are a hip injection with anti-inflammatories with oral steroids and recently my first epidural injection. The rough timeline is as follows:
August 2009 - September 2011 - Gates of Hell
Overtraining, noticing stabbing pain in left buttocks. Ignored it for a long time and learned to deal with not flexing my back. Never really understood the source of the pain but was told it was most likely due to piriformis muscle and required stretching. Pain became manageable. I went through a combination of doctors and chiropractors. I suspected it was sciatica after looking online and both doctors just said it was sciatica and both prescribed anti-inflammatories... two chiropractors suggested lots of stretches and did the electrotherapy. Even tried an acupuncturist because I was desperate to find a solution. Neurologist didn't really provide any useful information. Physical therapist, helped a little, but all it was were core exercises and massage therapy. Not helpful. Couldn't afford healthcare as I was a student from August 2006 to December 2009... so mass healthcare bills racked up.
September 2011 - December 2013 - Era of Hope
Bent over to pick up a box of books during a move. Think this is when I tore my L4 disc. Limping for the rest of my move and had friends nice enough to help me move everything. Did several icepacks and cried myself to sleep every night and eventually went to an UrgentCare center. UrgentCare center did hip injection full of anti-inflammatories and oral steroids. Desperation to fully resolve this issue set in and went to see two neuorosurgeons, one was a minimally invasive spine institute and recommended surgery immediately after being diagnosed with a 8-10mm herniated disc with a tear. Other surgeon recommended against surgery especially if the pain wasn't too bad. Decided to forego surgery. Able to resume work within two weeks. Pain subsided for awhile and only popped up when bending over and putting on socks. Could still do everything fine. Started doing weight-loss competitions (although already 180 and 5'11" at the time) and lost 20 pounds and did a lot of spinal decompression exercises with a lot of luck. Pain-free and was able to bend over for the first time in years and not struggle to put on socks and shoes. Wahoo!
December 2013 - March 2014- Excruciating Pain is an Understatement
Went on a couple ski trips, did my first blues and blacks. Gnarly time. Started playing tennis 3-4 times a week for about 2-3 hours each session. Pain starts to come back. Couple of pre-emptive MRI's show that my herniation is still about 8-10mm maybe a little more. Eventually, pain turns into horrible pain after a long 4-5 hour tennis match. Out of work for about 5 weeks... can barely walk or sleep. Attempted another hip injection with anti-inflammatories and oral steroids, works temporarily but pain comes back full force. The only comfortable position is hanging from a pull up bar -- upside down. Stayed inside for about a week, coming out for 1-2 hours of stretching at the gym and hanging from a pull up bar with a weight belt only proved to be effective for the day. Sleeping aggravated the inflammation. Had success sleeping with legs elevated but still couldn't stand for more than 15 minutes without dying. Tried spinal decompression with DRX9000 at a chirorpractor, proved effective for about 4 hours especially after lying down in a zero-gravity chair. Too much money later, problem still at high level of pain. Saw same neurosurgeon who recommended against surgery, who recommended surgery. Went to another neurosurgeon, tried epidural steroid injection shot instead with lots of luck.
Today - In Limbo
I have tried the first epidural injection shot and it's worked very well in conquering the bulk of the pain. Mornings are a bit rough and my lower back always seems to be tight, especially on the side where the radicular pain is. It's like my mind knows there is supposed to be pain and I feel phantom pains that I know is supposed to hurt during some moves. Siting at work isn't too bad if I stretch a lot but focusing is extremely difficult. My question is... if I do another injection shot, will this help with the morning pain? I'm kinda limping in the morning and it hurts to sleep in any position sometimes. Standing up sometimes I feel a burning sensation down my leg. I can still feel my leg. No leg drop. Expediting my injection shots to hit the three mark before I consider microlumbar discectomy.
Questions I'd like suggestions from the most.
For those of you who have successfully conquered this through injections, would you recommend me get a second and third shot paired with physical therapy?
For those of you have done a micro lumbar discectomy, what criteria did you use to evaluate your doctor?
Two Neurosurgeon Choices:
Post edited. Forum rules prohibit the naming of specific doctors.
Post Edited by Liz