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Small L5 S1 Protrusion/Bulge - at least 4 months in

DizeeeDDizeee Posts: 1
Hi all.

I have been having issues since June last year, although my current state all started in around October time 2015. In June I had an unexplained and breathtaking Sciatic Nerve Lock on my left side. It came from nowhere, and I was knocked out on heavy prescription pain relief for a couple of days. It then released and I had no problems since. In August last year we moved house and in September I jarred my back moving a heavy piece of furniture. It was sore for a couple of weeks but that too passed. Then in October I noticed intermittent back pain and sciatica, mild I would say.

I had 2 weeks private residential physio through work in November. As I had an undiagnosed issue they simply dealt with me as I presented and told me I likely had poor posture, tight hamstrings from cycling thousands of miles a year and tight QL's from muscular imbalances. 2 weeks there helped a bit but did not change my intermittent mild aches and pains. I then had a flair up in November and over xmas which both lasted a few days and I had to take painkillers again as it was significant discomfort and really got to me mentally. I also then had an MRI on December 4th (which I was almost symptomless for at the time), results of that were a minor central disc protrusion on L5 S1 affecting the traversing S1 nerve root. I found this out in Jan after the two flair ups in Nov and Dec. I was seen by a physio during all this, who said the treatment was painkillers and physio, and that I have excellent mobility and reflexes. I had already been doing stretches and core work since my private physio in November, so by this point I was 6 weeks into daily stretches and postural changes. I was also avoiding painkillers unless I really felt I needed them.

Fast forward to now (Feb 2016) and I feel like I am in a current state of constant flair up. My sciatica has been bad, I am also feeling occasional and minor cold/weakness type pain in my lumbar although not often. My main issue is just nerve pain /sciatica which affects my thigh and buttock, with a small patch on my calf I notice. Occasionally it spreads around my quads and sides of legs. It is either side, mostly right a the moment although I do get it on both sides at the same time. However, my mobility remains very good, I don't have any pain doing any sort of spine stretches and can get into some very flexible positions. I still cycle, currently around 140 miles a week with no particular pain on the bike, I am not finding that I wake up at night in pain (although this has happened on the odd occasion). I do get the odd pins and needles sensation currently in my right heel, and being crumpled up in the car at work for 6 hours a day is starting to bring on discomfort too.

What confuses me is I have ever changing and vanishing symptoms over weekly periods. Months ago back niggles, no nerve pain. Then some nerve pain, back niggles and noticeable feelings of pain flickers when turning in bed or changing positions on the floor etc. Then none of that, and no symptoms at all. Then slight nerve pain, then increased nerve pain with no other issues, and now a stiff back, nerve pain and occasional back tweaks but still no issues turning in bed etc. I have never had pain when coughing / sneezing.

I was told it can take up to 6 months to recover from a disc bulge by the NHS. Ironically one of the best symptom relievers is a hot bath - 20 minutes in one can lead to the removal of all pain and a good few hours of bliss. Otherwise I am getting by on taking Naproxen with 30mg of Codeine, and for when I really get into a panic I pop a 2mg Diazepam too.

My questions are these:

1) Nobody can tell me why I suffered an out of the blue lock in June last year. It was the worst experience of my life and I am told it sounds "unusual". It left me with deep muscular bruising and numbness for weeks after despite only lasting a few hours prior to taking the meds. I predict this pain similar to childbirth.

2) I have been stretching and doing physio excercises now for around 8 weeks since my private physio at the end of November. It did seem to be all getting better just before xmas but has since seemed to be getting worse with flair ups happening more frequently. I don't understand why this may be the case - surely it would improve steadily and be noticeable?

3) Can it really take 6 months for a bulge to disappear and can I expect things to go up and down or are these increased symptoms evidence of a worsening bulge?

4) Are there any signs or symptoms for a healing bulge - i.e what characteristics can I expect to see when the bulge is reducing? Can the increased nerve pain be a good sign that my nerves are are being freed or am I just kidding myself?

I am SO confused by all this. I am only 33, only weigh 75kg and have never had any medical issues. However this is starting to mentally depress me as I am having to concentrate solely on my back and my motivation to do anything else is waning. My instinct tells me this is not getting better or going away. The NHS tells me it will and that I am not bad enough for surgery. My wife says I need to be positive, all I know is this is the worst thing that has happened to me, and it seems like it is not going away. I know spinal injections are the next step, which I am unsure about doing, and I have no idea what to do next.

Does anyone have any advice? Thanks

There are no medical professionals on the forum side of this site. Therefore everything you read is based on the personal experiences and/or research done by the individual member. Comments should never be taken as pure medical facts. You need to discuss this with your doctor. They are the only ones that can provide you with detailed information about you, the patient.

Liz, Spine-health Moderator


  • 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
  • chop my leg offcchop my leg off British ColumbiaPosts: 56
    I had 4 bulging discs . They only operated on one. L5S1..... twice due to severe neuropathy.   I still have buldging discs L5 and L4, 6 months later and still after the last surgery.  Now Im on crutches can't walk or put my right foot down lately.  Had 3Rd MRI, They say it's from the nerve being pinched/entrapped from scar tissue now from the 2 l5s1 disectomies aND residual pain from the severe nerve damage.  Neuropathy is a horrible thing.  Vicious circle.  The pain before surgery would of never gone away without surgery and would of caused even more damage if I didn't get it done right away.  And now the pain is different but severe..   the good news...  I don't want to chop my leg and foot off anymore...just my foot.
    L5S1..2 microdisectomies in 30 days maybe one more on the agenda. 4 bulged discs and one of them loves my spinal canal X2 :/ and a compression fracture . And now scar tissue wrapped around the nerve causing horrible neuropathy all over again.   VICIOUS CIRCLE :(
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