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Hi everyone!

I am a 29-year-old female who has been dealing with back issues for almost 13 years. To make a very long story (somewhat) short - I started having low back pain in high school which went undiagnosed despite exhaustive testing. Over the years I have grown very used to that pain and it is now just a part of my everyday life - I really do not notice it on a daily basis unless I do something to additionally aggravate it.

However two and a half years ago I started having pain down my left leg brought on by sitting for long periods. At the start I couldn't sit for more than a couple hours, now I am down to less than five minutes. I had an MRI which showed degenerative disc disease (which had also shown on my MRI from 10 years prior) and a protruding disc at L5-S1 that was impinging a nerve, and I believe another slight protrusion but I don't recall where.

Since then I have done three rounds of physical therapy, which helped with strength as well as techniques to help delay the onset of pain, but never helped with long-term pain relief. I also had two epidurals at L5-S1, one was 100% successful for almost three months, the other did not help at all. I have been on gabapentin for over two years, started at a low dose and have worked up to 3600mg/day. (In the last month I have been reducing it and am now down to 1800mg.) I am not sure whether or not the gabapentin ever helped, but as I have started coming down off of it my pain has increased, although my activity level has also increased, so I am still not sure about its effects. I may start increasing it again and see if it makes a difference.

10 weeks ago I had an L5-S1 bilateral laminectomy. The procedure went well and the surgeon said he could see how inflamed and angry the nerves were (so at least I am not crazy!) and we had high hopes that this would help. Since then I have been taking it REALLY easy, I do none of the activities I used to do (volleyball, swimming, long walks) and only do my physical therapy and some light walking - less than 30 minutes.

Since I have returned to work (4 weeks ago) I have started having pain again. I have to sit for 8 hrs/day (I use a kneeling chair, I would not be able to tolerate a regular chair) and then when I get home I am in enough pain that I lie on the couch or in bed all night. One bonus - I have not had any right leg pain (which started about 6 months ago, but was always FAR less than my left leg) since the surgery. I also feel that my pain is different. It is the worst in different spots than it used to be, so I feel like the surgery may have taken care of part of the issue, but there is certainly still something going on. When I had my six week post-op appointment with my surgeon's PA-C she seemed disappointed that I hadn't noticed any improvement (other than right leg which I did not even think about till the other day) but had said it may just take time for the nerve to heal and that she would hope to see at least some improvement by my next appointment. I see my surgeon next week but if anything I feel worse. I assume he will schedule another MRI so we can see what is going on post-surgery and then go from there.

I want to be active and healthy but my body is fighting me and that is pretty frustrating, considering I am still relatively young (especially when this started three years ago). I can take steps to deal with it on a daily basis, like the kneeling chairs and I just ordered a "Varidesk" so I can stand at my desk at work. But I would like to be able to play volleyball again and go for super long walks with my dog and sit in a movie theater or at dinner without having to lay down both before and after just to accommodate my pain. I go back and forth between feeling bad for myself and feeling stupid for feeling bad for myself - I log onto forums like these and see people that seem to be in so much more pain than I ever have been and then I feel like I am just being whiney. But then I have a particularly painful day and I feel like I am justified in being whiney. Sigh!

The main reason I joined is that I am interested in exploring alternative treatments that may help me deal with pain since it looks like it may be a longer term problem than I was hoping. I am curious to learn about other peoples experiences with similar problems, but also learn how people deal with their pain in general and share my own experiences!
DDD, facet arthropathy, mild bulge at L3-4, bulge at L5-S1 resulting in spinal stenosis (more pronounced on the left)
12/3/2014 - bilateral L5-S1 laminectomy


  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    edited 02/12/2015 - 10:12 PM
    Welcome to,the site! While you are reaching out to other folks here, please look into and read all the information related to your issues. As you learn or reaffirm your knowledge.....something may come up to talk with your doc about.

    You mentioned about you Gabapentin .Hopefully you dosage changes are with doctors knowledge . Everything no matter how in control you feel has to go through doctor...as they really need all information to care for you.

    It sounds that you are very active in your care...getting chairs at work that are more comfortable. You sound very knowledgable. Please don't ever compare your pain to others. Pain is pain! And I think all of us but I know I for sure have gone through many different emotions re' hating no control over pain and then some acceptance and lowering my expectations of
    I realize you are so young and that makes it frustrating even more. I know it is difficult to be patient . I thing I would suggest is coming right out and asking doctor what activity level you can hope for in time. For me when I first was treated and then felt better I resumed my activities just to have pain return. After telling doctor she said "Oh no....you can't do this that or the other"
    I wish she would have told me...but.... And then there's always the pleasant surprise of being able to heal better than expected!
    Best of luck!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • ScargosunSScargosun Posts: 16
    edited 02/13/2015 - 9:46 AM
    I felt like I was reading what I was feeling when I read your post. I am older than you but feel the same way. I just want this to get healed to a point where I can be active again! My long story is posted on this thread so I son't re-hash it here. I was also starting to feel bad about being in pain when it appears there are lots of people with worse sx than mine. I have the sciatica on the left too but mine is ok in my desk chair but murder when I try to walk more than 50 feet or sit in a typical comfy chair at home or when I lay down flat. I am glad to read that PT has helped you a bit. That is what I am hoping for. The procedure you mentioned is a new term for me as well as the meds. I am going to do a little more research. I am going to remember what the other poster said above, 'pain is pain'. You should too. Good luck!
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