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Conservative hernia treatment not working, now what?

PBerriosPPBerrios Posts: 8
edited 04/14/2015 - 9:29 PM in Lower Back Pain
Hello fellows in pain!

I'm 34 and have been struggling with pain in lower back and leg, due to a herniated disc for a while, and it has brought my life to a halt.

2 months of ignoring the initial complaints led the lower back pain to spread into the leg and down to the ankle. An MRI confirmed an herniated disc. Almost 3 months of conservative treatment have passed:

The first 2 months were refraining from sitting, standing or walking too long, hot water bottle and very light stretching exercises, with no noticeable progress. Pain was under control when lying on my back.

Then I tried the "4xT" method (test, tape, trigger, train) which diminished pain an improved mobility in the first session. But shortly after -not sure if due to this treatment or a violent sneeze- pain got worse and constant, and the treatment stopped being effective to control it. Lying on my stomach is now the least painful position to hold.

Tramadol wasn't enough to aliviate the pain and sleeping became impossible. I got an epidural injection, which in theory was going to aliviate the pain after 10 days. In the meantime, I started with Oxycodon to cope.

It has been 15 days and the results are mixed: pain is less but still constant no matter posture, and cannot sleep more than 3 hours in a row; the "electrical" pain down the leg became this pulsating, amorphous constriction feeling in back, thigh and buttocks (different spots than before)

Mobility has improved though, so I restarted with physio, based on the exercises commonly recommended and massage. But walking and exercising make the pain increase. Overall, I'm worst than at the beginning of the treatment, 3 months ago.

So, I'm out of ideas. I'm "doing my homework" but it doesn't seem to respond well. The neurologist so far seems to be ok with "just wait and see how it goes", but I'm losing confidence it's going to improve at all. I really don't want to undergo surgery, given the risks, but I think it's going to happen anyways, so I also think "why wait?".

Can somebody with a similar process share with me their experience? I'd really appreciate some leads on what to expect, I feel in the dark.

Thanks in advance!



  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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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
  • Hey buddy I can share my own experience of having surgery for a herniated l5 s1 disc. To make a very long story short I tried all types of conservative treatment for nearly a year and in the end I still had to have this surgery. I need to admit that during this time there were periods when I felt better but also I was doing very stupid things like continued to go to the gym and do all kinds of stupid things :) Also 5 months before the op I got a job in a furniture shop where lifting heavy stuff was my duty :)). Needless to say what the outcome of that was.
    So I guess that the important thing is to combine your conventional treatment with having some respect for your back which I didn't had. I wish you good luck!
  • Hey Daniel, thanks for your reply. Do you think you would have recovered without surgery, if you had kept clear from straining your back? How long was your recovery after surgery?

  • I don't think I could have done it without surgery. I could literally not walk anymore and also couldn't sleep more than 2 hours a night under heavy sedation. I was risking to get permanent nerve damage and not be able to walk properly anymore.
    My recovery is still in the early phase I'm only 7 weeks post op. Look up my post it's called my journey. It's sort of my recovery diary :)).
    Anyways I think you should have a proper chat with your NS and design a battle plan. Don't just leave it to to gods hopping it will get better :) Take care
  • I read your posts, you are quite the optimistic! I completely agree that mood influenced the experience of pain: freaking out and breathing rapidly vs calm and breathing slow, what a difference. And being able to focus on nice things outside also help get along the restrictions in your own body. I'm sorry to read the pain is still an issue for you.

    Can I ask, how did you get the hernia in the first place?
  • Oh my herniaaaa :). From this point of view I might be the biggest idiot on this website lol.
    I got my first symptoms nearly 3 years ago from I believe a fall from a scaffold on a construction site in Ireland. After a year I started to get some strange feeling in my left glute so went straight for RMN. This is how I found out I have a very small bulge l5s1.
    Since then I built a 4mx4m wooden shed all on my own. I started going to the gym where I was doing all sorts of stupid things and the cherry on top was a job I got in sept last year in a furniture shop where I was dealing with huge weights. Looking back I wish I had done things differently in the 2 years I practically made fun of my back. But that's life :) stupidity and ignorance will always hurt you.
    That being said today I saw my NS for my first follow up after the op. I will post on my thread how it went. Take care buddy
  • ive been stupid too. doing tons of stupid things in the gym. btw nice bullmastiff dan, i have a great pyrenees mountain dg
  • Thanks. I also have a beautiful German Shepheard. I used to lift them off the ground at the same time and hug them. Stupid thing to do with a herniated back :) Now I just scratch them behind the ears and they both give me bad looks thinking I don't love them anymore hahah
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