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Some positive news if you need it !!!

I am posting this because if you are like me, you are searching this site because you are scared and in horrible pain. I want to post my quick tale in hopes of giving someone else hope.
I have had lower back pain all my life. I'm tall and young (35) but remember my back 'going out' since I was 20. However it always got better. That was until May 2015 when I was lifting a suitcase and thought I had been struck by lighting. Fast forward three weeks to my first MRI which reveals two smaller herniation at L3/4 and L4/5 and one major 2 cm central herniation extrusion at l5/s1. Water works begin!!! I spent three months crying as everyday as the pain seemed to get worse and worse. Some nights I couldn't sleep and if I did I woke up screaming that someone was stabbing me in my butt. I had three epidurals over three months, did PT, saw a posture therapist, you name it. I work full time (ata desk) and couldn't wait to get home to lie on the floor and cry. The back pain got worse throughout the day and my foot would go numb. I thought 'this is it- I will have to have surgery'. I met with 7 doctors (4 neurosurgeons and 3 orthopedic surgeons- slightly crazy but I was crazy!). Six months in, the surgeons agreed I likely needed surgery as two MRI's now revealed the herniations were not getting smaller on their own. So I scheduled surgery for January 2016 as I wanted to enjoy the holidays for a month. family starting arriving and I found that I was too busy to do PT or the daily 3-5 mile walks I had been doing every day and you know what, I felt a bit better. Then I went for my third MRI, the one you have to have prior to microdiscetomy surgery. And who would believe it? The 2cm herniation is now 1 cm. the darn thing shrank down 50%!!!now don't get me wrong- I'm not out of the woods. My neurosurgeon tells me I can't do much still and I should baby my back but I can do that for another few months if it means I can avoid surgery. My back still aches at the end of every day and sometimes my foot is on the bottom but I am better than I was on day one and that's what I try to focus on. I take allege when it hurts, sometimes use lorazepam to sleep and bought a standing desk for work which was the single best investment I have made yet. So my opinion (and it's only that) to anyone is if you can stand pain, try to for awhile. The body does want to heal itself and docs agree a bad herniation can take 1-2 years to heal. I was in the best shape of my life when this happened and maybe all that exercise did it to me. Who knows. And yes, some of the pain is likely just in my head. I would be lying if I didn't admit that the minute he doc told me the good news at the beginning of jan 2016, I felt like a bit of pain forever left. Any way good luck to you all. I know how scary this is. Try to focus on what mobility you have rather than the pain. That was a lesson that took me 8 months to learn!


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,846
    positive stories.

    So much we read here is about the negative and how they have the worst pain possible and that their life is finished.

    It is refreshing to know that people like yourself understand the problem and know how to handle it..

    Thank you for your post
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Great that you have some positive news. I wonder if the initial phases of your story are somewhat similar to mine. I am 34 and have had my back "go out" a number of times in the last two years. This has been maybe 7 times and it has been acute lower back pain. Sharp pains. Confined solely to the lower back. It then goes away after a few days and then a dull pain may remain sometimes when sitting down for about a week afterwards. So it seems like recurrent acute pain.

    The most recent one was the worst which has gotten me worried. But the next most worst was a whole year apart. I would love to think it is only a sprain each time. I do have very tight hamstrings. I am worried that it could be something like herniation or degenerative disc syndrome though.

    Did you have sharp pains when your back "went out" each time? How long for? Was there any dull chronic pain between? Was the pain isolated only to the lower back?

    Like you I am tall. And like you I also am very active and like to exercise. Every time my back goes out it has been at the gym.

    Until the last year or so I thought back pain was something experienced only by people over 60 and that even then it was generally a dull pain. I had no idea young people were affected, especially when they are slim, athletic and have a strong core and have not had a bad accident. I never envisaged that having such problems was a possibility. I had no idea back pain could be so absolutely horrendous unless you had a huge accident.

    Now looking at this site I see so many young people, and so many under 30. They even seem to be a majority. And people experiencing such pain. Boy was I a starry eyed idealist until as of late.
  • Wittyname- my back had probably gone out 10 times through my life before the 'big one'. It would vary in pain but most times I couldn't stand straight for a good 5-10 days. My hips would be out of alignment and it was quite painful. At the beginning it was from bad posture at school but as I got older it was definitely from working out too much with a trainer. Even though I was in great shape the docs have explained to me there is really no reason to be throwing more than 10 lbs weights around.... At least in my case. The pain moves around elsewhere. I always thought it was my piriformis or QL muscle but now realize it was deferred herniation pain. I would strongly suggest you get an MRI. Had I seen this happening a year ago I would have stopped working out and focused on better sports like swimming and Pilates on a mat. Don't wait until the time the pain doesn't go away. I think pain pain can occur to anyone. Here's the good news- herniations become more rare as we get over 45! Fabulous- a reason to speed up aging. Good luck and keep us posted how you do.
  • Thanks Kristaylor. Yes I am probably going to get an MRI. My GP doctor couldn't authorise one so I need to go and see a specialist first which I have a referral for. My back issues seem a little different from yours though I think in that the pain is completely isolated in the lower back each time. I dont seem to be able to have found anyone who has this same issue. There always seems to be pain for others which radiates elsewhere. This has been what has made me hope I guess that my issue is not to serious. As the signifiers of seriousness seem to relate to the pain radiating elsewhere such as buttocks or down the legs etc.
  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • re: " family starting arriving and I found that I was too busy to do PT or the daily 3-5 mile walks I had been doing every day and you know what, I felt a bit better"
    It appears the PT and/or the walks were aggrevating your herniation.

    The quest for reducing herniations is a difficult one.
    When do you know you are back to 100% ?
    How do you know it won't reoccur ?

    I tried coming back to normal activities after a long 6 month layoff...and I went right back to total collapse.
    That told me that unless I get the fusion, I'm unlikely ever to become active again like I once was.
    Of course I am much older than you, and age plays a huge role in this.
  • Szyl - you are right. It makes me wonder if the PT is bothering me. I am starting to believe what I have been reading in that it can take 1-2 years to heal (if it ever does). I am hoping my age helps me. Everyone, and all literature, seems to tell you how important PT and core work is but i wonder if you are in 100% shape before this occurs (and with muscle memory staying on for 8-10 months) perhaps one is better just doing nothing? Who knows. I seem to find more balance in PT 2-3 times a week as with walks. I may never run again and i'll learn to live that with. As long as I can get through the day with bearable pain without drugs - I'm good. I will live a life 10-15 lbs heavier if i can avoid surgery. I can even say good bye to most sports. .This site and some people's stories have scared me straight. Best of luck to your continuing healing - I hope you find a combo that works.
  • szylszyl Posts: 31
    edited 01/13/2016 - 4:49 PM
    You will be able to run again...but you must get surgery to do so.
    You are young enough to tolerate it with a good outcome.
    SEE A GOOD BACK SURGEON NOW...especially if you are going on 6+ months of PT.
    I don't "buy" this "it takes 1-2 years" malarky. I was in excellent shape...and none of the PT helped me.
    I'm still in pain going into month #7.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,846
    You can do this or that or that you won't be able to do this of that.

    If you have surgery or not
    If you continue with physical therapy or not
    If you take your medications or not

    The point,please don't make any decisions. based on what another member said

    The only formal source of medical advice has to come from your medical team

    Please keep this in mind whenever you read members post including mine.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thanks Szyl. I am going to keep fighting off surgery since I know have a little MRI proof the herniation is moving back in the right direction. I won't forever eliminate the possibility of surgery but i'll give it another 3-9 months. I don't think that's much in the big picture if i can get through the days.
  • kristaylor said:
    Thanks Szyl. I am going to keep fighting off surgery since I know have a little MRI proof the herniation is moving back in the right direction. I won't forever eliminate the possibility of surgery but i'll give it another 3-9 months. I don't think that's much in the big picture if i can get through the days.
    Totally your call. Almost everyone I have talked with has been very happy with the results of their surgery.
    Today's imaging technology as well as the extensive history of outcomes has made back surgery much less risky IMHO.
  • Well, I finally got it done. It was extensive: L3-L4,L4-L5,L5-S1 laminectomies followed by L3-L4, and L4-L5 lumbar fusions.
    My surgeon  was very optimistic after the completion of the 3 hour procedure.
    He was able to correct my spindliosis as well as the acute spinal stenosis.
    Essentially I had extensive reconstructive surgery. I knew my condition was bad, but the problem was never being able to know HOW BAD it was given the feedback from other surgeons and physical therapists. Everyone had the opinion that I could be fixed by PT. After my second epidural failed miserably to provide any hope of recovery, I suddenly came to realize that surgery was my only option.

    I am so blessed to have finally found someone I could trust in.....that was the key.
    This specialist told me that I had only 2 options:
    1) live the rest of my life with very limited activity, and having to take pain killers....
    2) face 12-16 weeks of some pain and recovery time post surgery.

    After seeing his face after his review of my MRI and X-Ray, it took me less than 5 seconds to make the choice.
    Wow, am I ever so happy I chose the latter. On Day-1, I passed the PT test without even a back brace. In contrast, my roommate took over 6 attempts and 3 days to finally pass the test. Of course I was in terrific physical condition prior to the surgery from all of the swimming and spinning.
    I'm now on Day-19 and already walking 3 miles without pain. Previously, I could not even stand without searing pain. I rarely need to take any pain pills now.

    Finally, and this was a big motivation. I will be able to fulfill my dream and do a triathlon with my 3 daughters.....hopefully, later this summer.

    Since I am technically banned from this site, this will be my last post (as Szyl).
    I wish the best of luck to all who are suffering and trying to make the right decisions.

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