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Young With Disc Problems--Can't Find Comparitive Situation Anywhere!

Hi there everyone! I'm stuck lying on my back, but I have a laptop, so I'm sure you can imagine I've been googling the crap out of disc pain management.

I wanted to ask for anyone else's opinions because in all my research, I can't really find anyone's stories that are comparable to mine.

When I was 17, I blew a disc so bad my right leg stopped working, and after lots of useless treatments like epidural shots and PT, (and people who told me, a rock climbing instructor, that I wasn't working out enough), we found a surgeon who got me an MRI, and said I needed surgery or I was never going to get back to normal. So at the age of 17, I had a discectomy in my senior year of High School.

Fast forward, because that worked like a charm. I felt awesome! I got married, and throughout 3 pregnancies had some back pain, but it was manageable. No biggie. I expected it.

Then last year, at the age of 23, I blew another disc. When I say "blow" I mean like spurting out uncontrollably. I can handle pain really well (natural births like a champ), but if a disc starts spewing its crud all over my nerves, that's it for me. I suddenly couldn't stand or walk. I had to lay on the floor of doctor's offices because I couldn't sit even that long. Some doctors tried to tell me I needed PT, but I knew better. I knew what it was and how to fix it, so we expidited an MRI, and a few days later had a discectomy on that disc.

So L4 went out, then L5, and he told me on the MRI he saw the one above it (can't remember the name) bulging, but not too bad yet.

In my head I was like, "Okay, so ticking time bomb. Great."

I'm almost a year post discectomy, and I while getting my kids out of car seats, my back siezed up and that was curtains for me. I'm stuck on my back again, but this time it's not AS bad. I can walk. I can sit for short periods of time. But even on hydrocodone and steroids that I'm using right now, I have constant pain, and no position alleviates it.

What on earth do I do? Should I get another discectomy? Because it's not so bad this time, should I do PT?

I know, I know, talk to my doctor. We actually have to wait 2 months to see a doctor because I am out of state for my insurance, and we won't be back in state until late July. Anything out of state would cost too much, so for now I need to just deal with it.

Once I'm in PA, do I ask for an MRI? PT? Drugs? I don't know where to go from here. I'm young and healty. BMI in target range. I do slow, healing yoga every day. I drink green smoothies and lots of water. What more can I do?
Alyssa Auch
24, mother of 3, two discectomies at ages 17 and 23.
Currently battling more disc pain.


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    edited 05/24/2014 - 4:35 PM
    then perhaps its time to look at some more aggressive lumbar surgeries such as many of the various fusions.
    If you are prone to herniating discs, then a fusion may be your best path to take. But no one here can tell you if that is the right or wrong approach. No one here has a medical degree.

    What medications are you taking? There are so many that can help manage your pain levels.

    I would not ask for MRI, PT or Drugs, instead, I would ask the doctors in PA what they feel is the correct course of action for you. I would be prepared with all the previous MRIs and surgical notes so that you can present them when you do see a doctor.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Dilauro,

    Thank you for responding! I've thought of spinal fusion, but it scares the heck out of me. I'm awfully young to be doing something so permanent. And I've heard down the road it puts more pressure on other discs, and often results in more surgeries. I don't know if my family an afford that for the next 60-some years of my life!

    Pain management is my target here, but PT sucks. I don't like taking pills. I know there's not cure-all for this, but I guess I'm just hoping to hear experiences from people who have had something similar to me. I just want to see what others have done and maybe find something that I can live with.

    I will definitely be prepared with all the MRI's and my past history, though. Until then, I guess I just have to live this way...which is awful because I can't even care for my own children. Walking to the bathroom causes me sharp shooting pains down my leg, and it's only when I'm on hydrocodone and lying down, shifting positions every few minutes that I can bear it.

    Bad genetic lottery I guess.
    Alyssa Auch
    24, mother of 3, two discectomies at ages 17 and 23.
    Currently battling more disc pain.
  • Hey! I pulled the genetic short straw too & it sucks doesn't it? I was young when I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis & for many years I believed I had it beat with diet & exercise. I do think that having kids speeds degeneration up for a while. It's not just the pregnancies, it's loading the car frazzled with diaper & shopping bags, lifting, dressing, pulling, pushing..it's the most physically demanding job in the world & can literally be a back breaker!

    I wish I had an answer for you but the chronic pain spine journey has often been filled with more questions than answers for me. I believe in maintenance & management. You reach a point where there are no more 'little fixes' & the big fusion looms. You seem like a smart lady who is doing everything you can to educate yourself & that's a great place to be. You ask, "MRI, PT, Drugs?" & my answer is 'all of the above & a lot more'. Ron coined the phrase 'The Blend'. I firmly believe in that. Find a mix that works for you. Mine ranges from aromatherapy (don't know if it helps that much but it feels nice) too procedures ESI's, RFA's etc. Controlled specialist yoga, PT anything that keeps you moving & builds your core to protect those discs (when you physically can) is great. Medications (narcotic, muscle relaxers, nerve meds) massage, meditation & visualization. Yes! It's a lot of work but this is my life & it beats laying on the floor consumed by pain...I do that too! ;-)

    When you get home find a good team. Pain Management & spine specialist. Get all the diagnostic tests so you know exactly what you're dealing with & take control of this. When/if it's time for the next big surgical step you will know it. Consult with a good surgeon & if fusion is suggested get a second opinion.

    I know it's bloody hard, particularly with little kids but this a marathon, not a sprint. I hope you stick around & enjoy the support here as I have. I look forward to getting to know you. ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • EnglishGirl,

    Thank you so much for your response! I like the "blend" idea, haha. It sucks, but I know now that there's no one cure for this. I'll just have to trust my doctors and work really hard, which I'm willing to do of course. If it means I can walk around Disney World with my kids, I'll do anything.

    I really appreciate you telling me your own experience and giving the "marathon" advice. I'm starting to finally grasp that. With my last two surgeries, I thought that would just "fix" it. But the more I read and research, the more I see this is a lifelong problem, and I can't just pretend like I'm normal, even if on the outside I seem like I am.

    I will be sure to have a good chat with specialists when I get back home! Thank you!
    Alyssa Auch
    24, mother of 3, two discectomies at ages 17 and 23.
    Currently battling more disc pain.
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