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Depression from lower back pain and sciatica.

alexb11aalexb11 Posts: 1
Hello all,

I figured I would come here to share my story to see if I could get some real input from anyone else who reads this who may be, or have been, experiencing what I am now. I feel that sometimes doctors and others we go to don't fully understand what it's like but maybe someone out there who reads this can relate and know that there are others who feel your pain (Literally and metaphorically speaking). Anyway i'll get to the point.

I am 20 years old and have been suffering from sciatica caused by two bulging discs in my lower back for almost a year now. I have lived an extremely active life up to this point until the summer of 2014 when I came home from a round of golf and felt a horrible pain down my right leg. The pain kept getting worse the longer I tried to rest it and take ibuprofen. I was convinced it was a simple pinched nerve or a misalignment. The pain surfaced at a time when I had no health insurance, and the combination of my "rub some dirt on it" attitude, and no affordable health care at my disposal I tried to get through it myself. Sitting down for any duration of time would cause excruciating pain. My next semester of school started and I could not make it through a 50 minute class without wanting to cry.

I realized that I had a serious problem that I needed help dealing with when I realized all my grades were slipping and I was in constant pain that completely restricted me from any activity outside of limping. I broke down in tears sobbing in the college library in a study room. This isn't something easy for a 20 year old guy who has dealt with a fair share of previous injuries to admit. This was the only one that made me feel completely helpless.

I found a place to get a cheap MRI after that day. The MRI revealed the two battered bulging discs in my lower back that clearly have some wear and tear from my baseball, football and basketball days. The doctor prescribed me some tramadol and suggested an epidural injection or surgery. I had a severe allergic reaction to the tramadol and was floored for two straight days projectile vomiting and dizzy.

I still saw light at the end of the tunnel after hearing about how effective epidural injections are for people with this. I scheduled my first epidural at this time and was begging it would help subside my back pain. I received the injection and after the first couple days of the anesthetic wearing off my sciatica and back pain returned. Ever since then I have fallen into depression. I spent my entire life always active, lifting weights, playing sports, hiking, or really anything competitive. The last year I have not been able to stand the pain of anything past walking.

I don't know how to handle the depression, are there doctors or specialists who can help with the mental aspect of dealing with this?. My depression as well as physical pain and disability has affected my physique as well. Leading up to the surfacing of my sciatic pain I had a great appetite and metabolism, I worked out 3 times a week and weighed about 150 pounds. (slim but healthy nonetheless). Since my back has gone bad I have lost a substantial amount of weight and muscle mass. I am down to 125 pounds and have lost my appetite. I have severe morning depression because that is when my pain seems to be the worst. My schoolwork has declined and I don't know how to cope with this.

I am trying to avoid prescription pain medication and surgery as much as possible but at this point I am considering something because I can't continue much longer like this. I never imagined being in this state at 20 years old.

If you have any suggestions or experiences you could share I would really appreciate it, I am stuck in a bad situation and don't have much support or resources and I appreciate any information that could be helpful.

Thanks everyone,


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

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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Hi, I'm new to this forum too. I can totally relate - when I was 16 I had pain so bad that I couldn't sit down or do much of anything. This was during the supposed "prime of my life". Turns out I had a broken vertebre likely from a bad snowboarding fall and I also had spondylothesis (sp?).

    Long story short I had a back fusion of L4-L5 at age 17. At age 18 I had another surgery where they took the hardware (screws and brackets) out. After the recovery from surgery (a long painful road for a few months) I was totally back to normal and I could do active things again.

    Then 8 years later at age 25 I twisted weird and something felt like a snap in the same place in my back.

    Since then (I'm 30 now), I've been trying my best to get out of this now chronic and constant pain. I've been feeling pretty depressed too.

    A week ago I got a cortisone injection in exactly the right spot (the sciatic nerve was trembling and jumping). Relief! Ohh my gosh, I didn't know how much numbness I had before - i can feel muscles and can make them contract if I want now!

    I know this relief is temporary but I'm using this time to strengthen all the previously affected and weakened muscles. I hope this will help when the cortisone wears off.

    I guess my advice is go back to your doctor and ask about ALL options. And mention that your feeling depressed because of the pain. They can help you try something else . There is nerve pain medication, I just started neurotin and it's super helpful too. You don't have to suffer like this, so be open and see what the possibilities are. Tramadol might not be for you but maybe something else will help you get through class or studying. Also talk to your professors and tell them your situation- sometimes they are compassionate and can help - like if you can't sit through a class because of pain sitting, maybe you could do something else (like read extra chapters) or something to make up for missing class.

    Hope this is helpful and hang in there!
  • After reading about pain you're in and having gone from active lifestyle to not much of one, I can relate! Mine started at age 25 in a car accident January 2014, through no fault of my own.
    Ive got a bulging disc L5 and had the steroid injection june 2014, I felt awesome straight after, I could walk normal again, no need for crutches or any assistance then bam within 4 hours I was in agonising pain again,worse than ever. Ive tried physiotherapy, hydrotherapy thats been no help. Saw a neurologist at last Friday just gone, now more waiting for nerve conduction tests. I dont think these doctors understand the pain and hell each day is, the struggle of doing the smallest things. Ive been on numerous medications and contemplating stopping them as none have helped in the slightest, ive been on tramodol, gabapentin, pregabalin,naproxen, codeine,co-drydamol, co-codamol, amitryptalline just to name a few and the side effects outweigh the point in taking them from dizzzyness, vomiting, passing out, loss of appetite. I'd give my right arm for a nights sleep ive not had one in 15 months im lucky to get an hour without waking, and trying to get 'comfy' is a whole different matter. So I know and understand what you're going through.
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