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Help with lumbar disc injury

scott1991sscott1991 Posts: 4
edited 12/17/2015 - 8:09 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hi all, hope I can get some fresh eyes on my situation.

I injured my lower back playing football almost 6 months ago, I ended up with severe lower back pain with pain all down my right leg along with varying degrees of numbness from just toes to complete foot etc. Along with this is the inability to move my leg too much, bend at my back or walk properly (I have a very pronounced limp) I spent a night in hospital as after the initial injury I could not pass water at all (it got sorted fairly quickly and I was told it was more than likely shock ) had an xray which showed nothing and got sent home. it was quickly diagnosed by my GP as a slipped disc at L4/L5. Something which my physio also confirmed when they first saw me.

Now at this point i was off work indefinately as i coukd barely do anything let alone stand and work. I was being treated with a course of physio and numerous medications (gabapentin and strong painkillers effectively) with the idea to try and remove the sciatic pain from my leg and get me walking normally before tackling the back pain whilst letting the disc heal itself. This went on for a number of weeks without any real improvement other than the aggravation of the nerves settling down and the numbness finally going away. But the sciatic pain remains and then intensity of the pain never changes, its always agony!

In September my physio eventually agreed that the treatment just wasn't doing enough and referred me on to a specialist. I saw him and he immediately arranged for an MRI (I never had one up to this point) and said one should have been done at the beginning. I finally had the MRI 3 weeks ago (around 22/weeks after the original injury) and I am still awaiting official results.

So I called the department where the specialist is based and the lady told me that results are in and I will be sent a report perhaps next week. I asked for info and she could not go intondetail but told me that effectively the results don't show anything immediately threatening but the letter will detail the findings. She went on to say that the specialist recommends more time for healing on its own and if there isn't any improvement, then a referral to a spinal surgeon will be needed. But there is more info in the letter I will get.

Meanwhile I am still struggling with the effects of the injury. I seemed tobhave recovered up to a certain point and things leveled off, im not getting better and yet it has not got worse either touch wood! Ive been like this since mid october but it is completely ruling my life now I cannot work full time I can only manage up to 25hrs and have to split my shifts throughout the week as working 2 days in a row is too much. I still can't walk properly and have to limp all the time and as ever the sciatica is still there.

I just do not know what to do now, I really don't want to be waiting longer as I know that I won't improve that much as I haven't since October, should I just push my GP to refer me on to a surgeon? Surely it must be clear that this is not going to heal completely without intervention?

I would really appreciate any advice i m at a loss as to what to do next!

Many thanks!!


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz -Spine-health Moderator

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Hi Scott1991. My heart goes out to you when I read your post. I understand how you feel as I've been there. I was diagnosed with an L5 S1 herniated disc with sciatic nerve compression which gave me continual pain down my left leg to my calf. At it's worse the pain went down to my foot where I was limping and could not walk. It was so terrible. Im an active person and I could hardly walk. I felt like I needed a walker (frame) or cane or crutches. Anyway, in the start of my journey (back in Feb of this year), my doctor prescribed me too with Gabapentin and ibuprofen and I had some percocet when the pain was unbearable. I had to go to the ER 2 times due to pain. I had to really push hard for an MRI. How can a doctor know how to treat my problem without seeing what exactly is going on? In the beginning my doctor didn't tell me that gabapentin takes a couple of weeks to kick in, so I was expecting relief asap. I took a LOT of ibuprofen and did take percocet only when I couldn't take it, but not on a daily basis. I was scared of becoming addicted. The gabapentin sort of messed with my head so I stopped it as I was catching myself saying some odd things and not thinking right....so I stopped that after a month. The surgeon wanted to do surgery, as that is what they do of course. He was going to do a microdiscectomy. I never had any surgery before and always exercised with weights and cardio so I was in good shape. I wanted to exhaust all my options before going for the surgery. I know it has helped a lot of people but also know that herniation can come back in the same place. It's risky. At the same time I wanted the pain to stop and was willing to do almost anything! I went ahead and the blood testing done for pre-op. I also went to a chiropractic clinic that a friend suggested who offered treatment on a spinal decompression machine, DRX 9000. I NEVER went to a chiropractor before so I was a bit skeptical , but I had nothing to lose. Surgery isn't going anywhere. He looked at my MRI and said I was a good candidate for the treatment from the shape and size of the herniation, my age, physical condition (not overweight), non smoker....
    I chose to do the treatment. I went 3 times a week for 9-10 weeks. It HELPED amazingly. The sciatica started to fade. My pain levels went from a 10 down to a 2. I was able to sit again, drive, decrease the ibuprofen etc... I did have a few more treatments after that to tweak things a bit more and it really worked and helped me. In addittion, I had accupuncture - 9 appointments in September. That really helped too with the inflammation and bring healing to that area. So, from Feb this year up to now I have come a long, long, way. Now, I'm totally med free and pain free. I'm back at the gym - taking it very slow. Just doing swimming, light upper body exercises, easy squats, lunges, core work but still being very careful. It took me 6 months to start noticing improvement. I thought it would never go away and feel so blessed that I can function again. I did a lot of praying too, which works! You can get better too and there is hope! The pain for me hurt so bad that I couldn't concentrate on anything and my patience was SO thin. I have 2 kids 6 & 4 years. I thank God for my husband who took on all the housework and child care. I felt like I had to advocate for my own care and not just rely on what my doctors said and advised. My GP seemed apathetic and I felt that a dog in pain would get better care and attention that what I received. I found a good chiropractic clinic. They listened. They specialize in backs. I hope you have a good doctor who listens to you. Mine didn't. At home, I iced my back several times a day to help decrease inflammation, got a firm mattress on my bed, used a portable TENS machine to help get through the day. I now have an inversion table I bought off Amazon for $99. I use it daily and love it. I also bought a 'anti-gravity' chair (lawn chair) and used it at home when watching tv as my couch was too soft. Anything to help keep the pressure off my low back. I used a lumbar support cushion in my car. Keep positive! Your body can heal. Keep a journal (I did on my iphone) and when you look back on it, you can see your progress and it's really helpful. All the best to you.
    42 yr old female. L5/S1 disc protrusion. Left side sciatic nerve pain to calf. Status post spinal decompression treatment on DRX9000..
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
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  • Hi jenny jane73, thats definately a good idea it would be amazing if a treatment such as the spinal decompression would help!! I am going to ask my GP how availabke the treatment is over here.

    Well things have taken a rather bad turn in the past week or so, basically the symptoms have been progressively getting worse. I think i know why but anyway things arent great at the moment. My nerves are really aggrivated and the sciatica is insane now. Along with this all of the tingling/altered sensation and numbness has come back, mainly in my right foot. Went to see a DR (not my GP he was away) and he said possibly the disc had bulged a bit more and is irritating the nerves. He wrote a letter to the clinic that is arranging the surgeon appointment and that was that. However, a couple of days ago i was at home amd my sciatica and back pain was really aggravated and painful, i noticed a slit change in sensation on my inner rright thigh which was completely new to me . Then from nowhere i leaked urine, not an awful lot but enough - when i realised i was able to stop it myself. This happened 3 times and then i was able to empty my bladder (all really shocking and embarassing for me) i called by GP And he asked to see me to go to hospital immediately as an emergency if it happened again and i was not able to control the incontenance but if it stopped happening overnight to then see me straight away the next morning.
    So i went to sleep really worried and thankfully i did not have a repeat of the episode so went to the dr that morning. He examined me again and also went into more detail about the first mri results. Turn out i have a disc bulge at l4/l5 but i also have a disc rupture at l5/s1 which i had no idea about!!! He then said he was not happy at all with my condition and sent me to hospital anyway for tests because of the urine incontenance episodes.

    So i waited in A+E for 10 hours on new years eve, i had an exam by a spinal surgeon (literally the fastest exam i have ever had i was amazed how little time i spent with him) he sent me for a second MRI. The results showed no change in damage to the spine since the first one and they were pretty much the same. At this point im relieved there is no more damage but also upset and confused as to why everything has got so bad again and why on earth i had this urine leakage problem. Nobody seemed to have the answer for me and i was sent home with strong painkillers and instructions to go back straight away if anything changes or gets worse amd wait for my appointment with the other surgeon.

    One dr i spoke to there suggested that because of the length of time ive been injured, the other conservative treatments tried and the fact that my quality of life has been so badly affected, surgery is something to be thinking about. But it seems that nobody wants to make the decision to do surgery because the spinal surgeons would rather aviod it because of furure complications.

    I literally feel at a dead end now, ive gotten a lot worse and started with these leakage episodes (although they seemed to have stopped for now) , my own GP is concerned but nobody higher up seems to be because the imaging doesnt fully support my condition worsening. I really dont know how much longer i am expected to carry on like this!!

    By the way, with me now knowing i have a double disc injury, if i were to have surgery is a discectomy still a posibility? Or cant that be done as there are 2 discs next to eachother damaged and another procedure would have to be done?

    Thanks for all your help!!
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