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Hello all I would like to share my story dealing with sciatica and a bulging disc. I'm a young male 22 going on to 23 soon. I stayed active by playing a ton of basketball and lifting weights. Also did wrestling , and football in high school. Any how I experienced lower back pain when I was about 20, i thought nothing of it and gave it some time. Later on around 21 years of age the back pain resolved but i was facing this new pain that ran down my right but cheek to the back of my knee. I went with this pain on and off for about a year or two. I noticed that when i lifted weights i wasn't experiencing any pain, the only lifts I would do were mostly upper body, I decided to stay away from dead lifting and squatting due to my pain. Also i noticed after playing basketball the pain would be the worst the day after. I would give it a few days off, pain would subside and play basketball, once again the pain down my leg would return. I kept playing basketball due to my stubbornness of loving the sport. One day I woke up with the worst pain I've ever felt running down my leg, felt like a sharp pain as if i were being stabbed , every now and then I would feel tingling down to my foot. Working as a transporter at the hospital i had to be on my feet through out the day so i finally decided to get a scan done to pinpoint the problem.
I went in for my MRI scan that showed i had a bulging disc at L5/S1. Impression: L5/S1 right paracentral disc extrusion measuring approximately 1.2 x 1.6x 1.5 cm with severe right lateral recess stenosis and suspected S1 nerve root impingement. Mild background disc bulge also noted at the L5/S1 level. I went to pain management right after to discuss my options which were first medications, physical therapy, and icing. The next option would be an epidural injection to relive pain which honestly terrified me, being 22 young and healthy i didn't want any invasive treatments. Last option would be surgery which would include a fusion, or a microdiscectomy, which once again terrified me. So i decided to go on with the medication and stretches first. I was prescribed naproxen , gabapentin , vicodin, and felxeril. My experiences were, the vicodin being a narcotic pain reliever, i tried twice and felt naseous with not much pain relief i decided to stay away from it since people can get hooked on it. The gabapentin was for nerve pain, it did help mostly at night when the pain was the worst. I only took the gabapentin a few times as well. The felxeril was prescribed for muscle spasms which I would rarely get, the muscle spasms didn't hurt just felt funny so i didn't take that either. The next and final drug was naproxen and it worked wonders for me. I took this twice daily for 2-3 weeks. I read the side effects on possible GI tract bleed, and many others which scared me. But I felt the naproxen was helping so I decided to take it. I asked the pharmacist whats the longest i could take naproxen before it becomes harmful and the answer was daily for more than 6 months, thank God i didnt have to take it for that long.
Onto my pain, I had excruciating pain running down my leg through out the day it would be about 6-7/10 and at night it was the worst 9/10, I would toss and turn , grind my teeth, not getting any sleep. Driving was tough at times too, I'm a college student so walking to classes was a challenge as well. The pain was the worst when i would lay down or walk, sitting was my best option for pain relief. This pain was constant 24/7 sometimes more bearable at times. It was also mentally tiring and frustrating. I would be moody and catastrophic thoughts about always living with this pain, not being able to work anymore, and so on so forth.
The recovery, So i took time off work on absence of leave. I'm an active guy with school , work, and extracurricular activities, being off work felt bizarre. So i looked up youtube videos , read forums, and everything to learn about curing a bulging disc or at least my main focus to get rid of the sciatica pain. At this point i gave up basketball completely knowing that was a major cause , and i gave up weight lifting for now which was a hard thing to do. I bought a back brace which i recommend, it felt like it improved my posture, and gave me a snug secure feeling on my spine. I picked up swimming , i read that its less pressure on your joints and spinal column than regular exercise. Stretching i feel is important too, just be careful to start off light, and if you're in pain be extra careful. This stretch called the reclining pigeon nose was the best pain relief for sciatica when I would lay down. I also did the heat pads but i felt those didn't help too much. Icing your back helped as well. Another thing is to correct your posture at all times, from sitting to standing to laying down. In class I would sit for hours but I made sure my posture was right with the help of my back brace, while walking too, walk slower concentrate on your posture. I'm a month in with this recovery and finally little to no pain. I even stopped taking the naproxen for a week now and no pain. I still wear my brace mostly at all times. I still stretch and go for a swim at the gym. I'm giving up basketball which was the culprit, ill start introducing weights a few weeks from now and start off light. Still practicing good posture too. I can feel that i'm not 100% but at least i'm not in pain anymore which was the goal here. Also another thing is to be careful not to bend over as well, if you have to get something off the floor squat down keep your back straight and lift with your legs. I know it feels and probably looks funny but its all part of using proper body mechanics to avoid injuries.
Well that's my success story and I hope anyone dealing or suffering with sciatica recovers as well. An important thing is to find out if there's anything that's causing this to continue, for I it was playing basketball which I completely abandoned to keep my spine healthy. Once again i'm not 100% but not in pain anymore and can do my daily living activities with ease. This is just my story, I know everyone's body is different , different locations for bulging or herniations , different treatments but I hope this helps anyone reading this. Stay positive have faith and one day too you'll probably recover as well.