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Herniated L4/L5 disc. My Story

tomreilly15ttomreilly15 Posts: 1
edited 07/23/2015 - 9:42 PM in Lower Back Pain
Hello everyone,

I figured that since I was here reading some other people's stories and trying to find solace from them, I should write my own story in hopes of putting a few people with a similar situation at ease.

Back in May 2nd, 2014 I was participating in a lacrosse game when I felt an uncoforting sensation on the ride side of my lower back after throwing a wrap check (basically twisting my body unnaturally and a high speed). I am 17 years old then and figured that it was just a pulled muscle and I'll just have to play the rest of my lacrosse season with a slight restraint. At that time is was completely manageable, significantly annoying, but bearable.

The summer comes along (June 2014) when the pain was too profound for me to play with. I had to stop all athletic activity and get this checked out. I received the MRI results which showed I had a bulging disc l4/l5 lumbar spine. At that point I was experiencing sciatica, the pain was from my lower back down to my calf in my right leg. It was horrible; as the summer progressed, my back regressed. I went to physical therapy (slight short term relief),acupuncture (no relief), deep tissue massage (short term relief). There was a huge change in the summer (I don't know what happened) where I went from bad to horrible. I walked with a limp, I couldn't extend my right leg, I couldn't run or jog. My quality of life was greatly diminished. I couldn't play any sports and sports are a HUGE part of my life.

I never went to a chiropractor as I feel they are suspect. I find it blasphemus that they can diagnose your case within the first 10 minutes you're in the office. But, when you go to an orthopedist/neurosurgeon they can't quite seem to give you a direct answer because they know too much. There can be numerous reasons for back pain and they don't want to submit to one concrete solution.

My reccomendation is to save your money from chiropractors.

Anyway, I scheduled surgery in November of 2014 for a microdiscectomy. Turns out there was a piece of cartilage (didn't show up on MRI) pressing against my sciatic nerve as well as an l4/l5 herniation. my neurosurgeon removed the cartilage and a very slight bit of my disc. He told me I wouldn't have gotten better without surgery.

I ended up playing a vigorous level of high school lacrosse in 2015 (with lots of Advil) after a 4 month recovery with rest and physical therapy. PT got me back to where I wanted to be before the season (highly recommended). I was back to sprinting, lifting weights (cautiously), agility drills, you name it. My life was back to where it was.

Currently as I write this, I am 100% pain-free. As soon as I woke up from surgery I felt immediate relief because the cartilage was gone but it took me some time until the pain was completely gone. I noticed that weather did have a slight impact on me during recovery so if that happens to you it's normal.

What I continue to do even though I'm pain free: Sleep with a pillow in between my legs at night, not because I need to, but because it's comfortable and beneficial; sleep on a not too soft not too firm mattress; pick up heavy objects with my leg muscles; stretch my hamstrings and legs every opportunity I get; work out core to help support back stability; have an optimistic outlook on the future of back and life.

I HIGHLY recommend that if you're contemplating surgery of any kind, you spend hours on end into who will be cutting you open. No surgery should ever be taken lightly, having a doctor that gives you confidence and satisfaction is a big key to this puzzle. Please take the time to research surgeons that are credible; it's your spine we are talking about.

Sorry this was so lengthy! But I felt an urge to write my story. I'm 18 years old now. Sad to say that these injuries can happen to pretty much anyone of any age. Keep on being positive if you feel that everything in your life is going downhill. Mindset is paramount to how you end up. Hope everyone is doing better and it continues. Thank you for those that took the time to read this. Later!


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

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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
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    ...for your encouraging words, esp from someone so young and caring enough to reach out and encourage others!

    It is always so great to hear success stories!

    I wish you the very best and continued pain free lifestyle!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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