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L5-S1 Disc Bulg, Sciatica, Swollen left back, lower back pain

baydudebbaydude Posts: 7
I injured my lower back at the gym doing heavy squats and deadlifts a couple months ago and got an MRI and was diagnosed with a bulging disc at L5-S1 which was causing sciatic nerve pain radiating down my legs. My primary doc recommended PT so I've been seeing one for a couple weeks. Although I've been improving since, today my lower back and leg pain flared up again and I'm not sure why. My PT told me that the muscles on the left side of my back is really tight and swelled up compared to my right side. I've been getting muscle stim and ice treatment during the PT sessions but I can still feel the swelling and tightness on my left side. I am trying to stay positive even though some days I feel as though Im taking a few steps back after moving a few steps forward. At this point, I have a couple of questions that hopefully someone can provide some answers to in order for me to stop the worrying:

1) Based on my current condition and MRI results below, how long should it take for me to recover going to PT sessions twice a week and doing daily stretches provided from my sessions?

2) How long should my leg pain last and what can I do to make my left back muscles side less swollen and tense? If I were to run my hands down the middle of my back, it feels as though my back is crooked from the swollen left side.

Also, if someone can translate my MRI results in layman's term, I'd really appreciate it! Thanks in advance.

L4-5: There is a preserved disc height and hydration with a 1 mm circumferential disc bulge. Mild facet anthropathy with mild fluid in the facet joints.

L5-S1: There is mild disc desiccation and disc space narrowing. There is a broad-based left paracentral disc bulge measuring up to 6 mm. There is impingement with mild posterior displacement of the descending left S1 nerve root within the lateral recess. Mild facet anthropathy. No discrete overall central canal narrowing. Mild central left neural foraminal narrowing.


L5-S1 broad based left paracentral disc bulge which does impinge left lateral recess and descending left S1 nerve root. Mild left neural foraminal narrowing.

Mild facet arthropathy through the lower lumbar levels.


  • No one is qualified nor permitted to advise you on your MRI. That needs to come from your medical doctor. 5.12 You agree that any information, opinions or other content provided by doctors or patients on Spine-health.com forums is for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical diagnoses or treatment. Always consult with a physician for any health problem or medical condition.
    5.13 You agree not to ask for any analysis or interpretation of diagnostic tests (ie MRI, CTScans, EMG, etc.),
    5.14 You agree not to respond to any request for analysis of diagnostic tests (ie MRI, CTScans, EMG, etc.)

    That being said, your best option is to consult with a board certified spine surgeon for evaluation of your MRI and treatment options. Your primary doctor is not the best equipped to diagnose and or treat spine conditions.
    Seeing a surgeon does not mean that you need surgery, most who consult a spine surgeon do not, but they are trained in the mechanics and neurology of the spine and are the best option when it comes to treating spine problems.

  • Do you do core work. I hurt my back doing the same stupid deads and squats plus I work construction. I never worked out Abbs if your core is weak your back muscles will compensate for the weak areas. You bodybuild so you know how important it is to have a balance if your chest is bigger then your back or vise verse it causes a in balance on your body's mechanics which leads to problems down the road.
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