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24 years old with 12mm L5-S1 Herniation

AgoupsAAgoups Posts: 2
Hi everyone,

This is my first time on here, decided to post as I am very overwhelmed with everything that has been going on, and would love some advice as well as for people to share their recovery stories if they were in a similar state as I am.

I have had back pain since I was 17, and finally was a given a referral for an MRI when I was 22. It took a really long time for doctors to take my pain seriously. At that point I had slight degeneration and a slight protrusion at my L5-S1. I paid 700 dollars for a 5 minute consultation with a surgeon, just to hear that my nerve damage wasn't substantial enough to justify getting a surgery at 22. I was given no advice or care plan. I was very active for the next two years and took care of my back on my own, and was doing very well, my pain was definitely under control.

Then 9 months ago the pain started getting worse again, to the point where I couldn't exercise anymore, and I really started feeling that shooting nerve pain down the back of my right leg. I was also unable to sit for an extended period of time without being in excruciating pain. This is a huge problem for me as I just started graduate school in September, and all of my classes are 3 hours long. I also need to spend a lot of time sitting in order to study and write papers. So 4 months ago I got a second MRI. This one revealed a 12mm protrusion at my L5-S1, which is compressing my S1 nerve root. There is also bulge at my L4-L5, and three of my discs are degenerating in a row starting at my L5-S1 and going up.

After this MRI I was urgently referred to the spinal clinic and was also prescribed percocets (which I have been on quite consistently since October). The doctor at the spinal clinic said that cortisone injections would help. They didn't. Neither did physiotherapy, or anything else I have tried (inversion table, electrical nerve stim, acupuncture, massage, stretching, supplements). If I can avoid sitting, like I did over winter break, I can manage. However, any time I go back to sitting, the pain comes back with a vengeance. The pain is all pretty much sciatic. I went back to my doctor at the spinal clinic 2 weeks ago, and seeing as the injections didn't work, he said surgery is the next step, specifically a microdiscectomy.

However, I have a ton of people in my ear telling me I can recover on my own, and that I don't need surgery, and if I just do this or that, or take this or take that, then I will get better. Like I said, I am in graduate school and I am not sure if I can wait however many years to recover on my own... I have already had to miss so much school because of this condition, and am always on painkillers.

Also, I am in Canada, and so typically I would have to wait about a year to get in for the surgery, it would obviously be covered by health care, but I wouldn't get to choose when I have the surgery, or who does it. However, I have this great insurance that finds you the best specialist for your condition and covers the cost of the surgery with just a 5 thousand dollar deductible. The only thing is, I only have this insurance plan until next February. So if I do have this surgery I will be getting it at the beginning of April so that I don't miss any school.

I am just wondering what you guys think, is surgery a good idea at this point, after failed conservative treatment? Or should I keep trying. Anyone my age with a similar herniation have surgery stories? Also, if I have the surgery at the beginning of April, would I be able to go to Mexico for a resort vacation on June 13th...I already have this vacation booked!

Would love to hear from.. anyone!



  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Welcome to Spine-Health

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    If there are any questions, you can always post them here, send Liz or myself a private message or contact Ron rdilauro@veritashealth.com


    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Hey

    I had my surgery a year ago, when I was 19 (I'm 20 now).
    I had 11mm L5-S1 herniation and pain was intolerable.
    I don't regret getting surgery and have been feeling great. Of course, surgery is only half the road (if not third), the rest is recovery, therapy and creating right environment for your faster healing.

    Hope this helps.
    I am not a doctor but if you feel like surgery is a good option, go for it (I had mine and haven't regretted it)
  • Dear Agoups,

    I am currently suffering in L4-L5 grade 1 (25% slippage) spondylolisthesis for about 1 year. I can sit without pain for some time, but when standing or walking I get big pain on my both legs . Since I am 62 years old, so I am trying to avoid surgery. Now I am visiting Chiropractor, however the treatment is still questionable. I still did not see any improvement.
    I feel much sympathy for your case. and would like to share my thoughts about you question whether to go for surgery?
    From website below it shows that:
    " Research has shown that patients with a spondylolisthesis of greater than a 50% slippage, termed a grade 3 spondylolisthesis (50 to 75% slippage), or a grade 4 spondylolisthesis (greater than 75% slippage), generally do not respond to non-surgical treatment and are likely candidates for surgery."
    You mentioned that you have 12mm L5-S1 Herniation, is it a 12 mm slippage? I got 10 mm. slippage L4- L5 that was defined as grade 1.
    From above statement, for grade 1 patient it is not a candidate for surgery.
    However considering that you are very young and going to have much long energetic life, if I were you I will not hesitate to go for surgery.
    For the time being. as you need to work on computer, I would suggest that you can lay down and use computer. I have used it conveniently and efficiently. You can do it by getting a chair that used in bath room for old age people. This chair you can adjust the height. I tight note book to the edge of chair and lower the height of another side of chair. It works very well and be ergonomic as well.
    Hope that my message will give you some helps.
    Good luck,

    Somsak D.
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