I have been reading through the forums a while now and finally got the guts to join and post about my condition. I'll post my question first so the backstory won’t drown out the question. I really appreciate anyone taking the time to read and post anything at all, so thank you in advanced and my apologies for the length.
So I currently have a lumbar herniated disk (3mm) around the L4/L5 region and a bulge around L4/L3. I have had it around 4-5 months and am wondering if anyone has any idea of an approx. healing, not using surgery, based on their own experiences or ones they have heard elsewhere for someone around my age?
I understand that the healing time varies from person to person and based on the severity of the herniation, however, my doctor's haven’t even hinted as to an approx. healing time and I have read online anywhere from 6 months to 2 years
Also, any advice for coping with the pain and exercises and stretches would be great. I would, eventually, like to start going to the gym again. I know I will never be able to go back to my routine 100%, however, I have been seditary for a few months now and it is starting to get to me.
I am 25 years old and was at least physically fit before this happened (did weight training/running 5k's/etc.). I have always been active and have always have had back pain. I did 10 years of competitive ballet and figure skating when I was really young (which I am sure just adds to this all).
I have felt a bit overwhelmed and secluded going through all of this desperately looking for help online for since doctor’s seem to brush it off a bit. No one else I know has ever dealt with herniated discs.
The pain started about 5 months ago. I thought it was a pulled muscle and so did my doctors so they just gave me pain medicine and told me to take it easy. At this point I didn't have sciatic or nerve problems, just discomfort. I stopped going to the gym in hopes that it would get better and it didn't. It actually got progressively worse. I started Physical Therapy about 2 months in and did that for about 1.5 months. By this point my foot was pins and needles all the time as well as numb. At this point I was forcing myself to work (I work with computers so 8 hour sitting job) and then just go home and rest on my couch from the pain. I could sit for maybe about 20 minutes before I would have to get up and walk around from discomfort. My doctor finally ordered an MRI which showed the bulge and herniation.
Depression really started to kick in at this point, as I had to stop all my social activities and became sedentary for about a month. I couldn't even clean my apartment. I went to many doctors, all of whom gave the same responses which was just dealing and coping with the pain and that I was fine and it would go away. I even saw a neurosurgeon who luckily did say I was not a candidate for surgery, however, that didn't help me feel any better with the pain.
I finally started to get a little relief about 2 weeks ago. I ended up getting traction therapy, which helped significantly. I am able to sit a bit longer at work, and drive a bit better as well as spend more time out with friends again. I still haven’t gone back to the gym, but continue to walk and do light core exercises. Am trying to still be hopefull that I can eventually return to a somewhat normal routine again.