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Questions about annular tears & bulging discs

snookiessnookie Posts: 359
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Lower Back Pain
A bit of history...I fell April 1/08 on a partch of ice at work, starting having severe pain in my left buttock going part way down my leg. I saw my Dr the next day, he RX'd T3's and PT said it should be gone in 2 weeks, and to come back and see him in two weeks, as per WCB policy. Stayed on that regimen for 4 weeks, then my PT said that they need to do more tests. The WCB Dr approvved Xrays, which showed a transitional L5. Results sent to my Dr, he said that shouldn't cause pain. Kept on the T3's and PT.

FF 2 weeks, no change, PT told the WCB Dr that more tests were needed, WCB Dr sent for an MRI on my lumbar spine. I saw my Dr for the results. He told me that I have a buling disc at L4/L5, with an annular tear, no nerve compression. Shouldn't be causing me pain. PT started a WCB approved 'fast track' exersize program, which signifigantly increased my pain. I ended up in the ER.

Told the PT, she told the WCB Dr, I was sent for an MRI on my left hip and a bone scan (full body as I am a cancer survivior). Results normal.

Pt was terminated by WCB after 3 months with no improvement, the said that I have plateaued. My last appointment with my Dr, he believes that I in pain but he doesn't know why. I am on tramadol ER which helps me get thru the day.

Has anyone else experienced annular tears and or bulging discs that are causing pain despite lack of nerve compression? Any advice on where I should go from here? Treatments, tests that I could ask for, etc?

I am a 27 year old single mom of 2 boys. I am refusing to believe that my only option is to be in pain, and on meds. I want to be able to walk without a limp (because of the pain in my butt which now runs all the way down my leg on bad days) and do the stuff that I want to be able to do with my boys.

BTW, I am in Canada, where there is a major Dr shortage. Changing Dr's is not possible for me, as there aren't any taking new patients (I've called). I also cannot make appointments with the WCB Dr, as this is against WCB policy.

Sorry for the long post and the spelling errors (I wish there was spellcheck).



  • My former doctor suggested IDET, which I believe its called, is where they apply heat into the disc and its suppose to shrink the disc itself and therefor tears seal. He said its not always permanent, but helps with the pain. My insurance co wouldnt approve it for me, stating that its not recommended, Truth is I think it was too new for them.
    Yeah, its called intradiscal electrothermal therapy. I just looked it up. Hope this helps, at least worth a suggestion perhaps to the doc. Good luck!
  • I hust wrote it down in my daytimer. It can't hurt to ask.

    BTW, I have to correct my age, I keep forgeting I turned 28 last month (i think I'm in denial).
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  • That is a definite YES! Annular Tares do cause pain. I had one repaired through endoscopic microD. Not all docs will operate on annular tares as I have met people on this forum that live in my state and traveled to see my doc in order to have this done. the gel like substance that is inside the disc can protrude through the tare press on nerves and cause excruciating pain. I hope that you are able to find some relief. I went through PT and all of the same things that you did that caused more pain. One day in PT we found by putting the tens unit on me that my left butt cheek was totally numb. Good luck and please keep us posted.
  • Thanks for the reply, and confirming what I suspected. I wish I could try a tens unit, I am epileptic so it is too big of a risk.
  • Did me no good as PT did not do any good. It was just through the tens unit that my numbness was found. Do you have any docs in canada that are offering laser or endoscopic (minimally invasive) surgery? I really feel that is what it will take to repair your tare. Did they mention how large of a tare you have?
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  • That was a lifesaver for me before surgery was a rhizotomy (nerve burn) I have arthritis in my facet joints but it also helped the pain generated by my annular tare. Have you ever heard of this? This may be something else to ask doc about. I also have a wrap that I heat in the micro for a few minutes and fasten it to my back using velcro. It gives off moist heat and you can actually go to sleep with it on. It will not burn and stays warm for 2-3 hours. In the states it is available in most drug stores.
  • I don't know how large the tear is. I've asked my Dr for both a copy of the MRI report, and the films. He said that can't give me the report or request the films, i have to ask WCB. I have sent WCB a letter asking for copies for both. My hope is that once I have the report/films I can get in to see a Dr and look at other options. I don't know if there if anyone offers laser surgery for this up here, but I'm going to start looking!! Thanks for the support and the quick responses! I don't know anyone that I can talk to about this, This forum has been a huge help.

    I've heard of RF, my Dr didn't seem too keen. He said that if it was a nerve problem that it woulf show on the MRI (does that make sense??). I will ask again, there's no harm in asking questions.
  • may not know what he is talking about. Nerves carry pain signals to the brain so even if it were not a nerve problem it may work. RF is exactly what I am taliking about. I am going to send you a PM.
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