Hi all I just wanted to tell my story and to hear from people in a similar situation to myself.
I am 37 years old and have a herniated disk L4-L5, with all the classic symptoms of tingling, numbness, hot burning sensations and acute pain down the right leg. Worst pain is in the right buttock around the piriformis muscle.
I first noticed a little pain in my back about 18 months ago and thinking it was a slight strain, I let it go a couple of days.
Mind you there was no trauma or any injury which had led to this pain.
After a week or so I began seeing a physiotherapist for treatment. The usual core building exercises and stretching routine was the order of the day. After subsequent visits the pain began to worsen and he suggested I have an MRI which showed a moderate disk bulge in the L4 L5 region.
Treatment from the physio continued and over the course of a few weeks the pain improved.
The injury over the next 12 months was up and down even though I had not changed anything in my daily routine and knowing of the volatility of my pain I would protect the area by doing all the right things eg, lifting correctly, proper posture while sitting, not sitting too long etc etc. Mind you I would have my set daily routine for my core exercises also. I swam 3 - 4 times a week for an hour each session covering up to 3km each time. For me the swimming was the best exercise for strengthening my core and just fitness in general. It also helped me mentally focus on my recovery. A bit like yoga I suppose.
Unfortunately the pain just would not go away.
The pain sometimes would be so bad I would have to take fairly strong anti inflammatory tablets twice a day and be restricted to lying on the floor alternating from my front to my back.
It had reached the point where I made the decision to consult one of the leading and most trusted neurosurgeons in my area. Mind you the wait to see him was 4 months.
About a month after I made the appointment my condition deteriorated quite severely with acute pain, and for the next three days and nights I would only get an hour or so sleep. By this point I could barely walk and I was admitted to hospital where my surgeon's practice was.
Suddenly it all became quite real that I might be having surgery that very day or even the next, so it was quite overwhelming as you could imagine.
I was sent off for another MRI that day and later that evening my surgeon came to visit to discuss the options.
One was to give me a few different meds to calm everything down and see how I was over the course of the next few days, which the nurses already did, the next was to undergo a microdisectomy, and the last option was to try a steroid injection to settle the inflammation.
After a lengthy discussion I decided to try the cortisone injection.
Over the next few days the pain subsided and I had great expectations that the injection had worked, albeit for the lower part of my leg with the tingling and burning sensation. The nerve pain in the buttock and lower back was still there but more manageable.
It has now been a month since the injection, and while it has settled the pain in the lower part of the leg, the pain in the buttock and lower back has worsened.
The constant chronic pain coupled with the lack of sleep over the past month has made the decision to have surgery much easier and a final visit to my surgeon in a couple of days will cement this.
Wish me luck.
I think the major problem with back pain is that unless you have gone through it your self, you truly have no understanding of what one goes through with the roller coaster of emotions and pain. It is so debilitating at times that it also greatly affects your mental state. It is so important to keep a positive attitude with your progress and I think the biggest hurdle for me was to go through all the steps of trying different methods of recovery and knowing that I had tried, and exhausted them all, and was left with surgery as the last resort.
I would love to hear from people out there which are experiencing the same or similar issues or have had the surgery themselves.