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herniated disc and pregnant

bluebellbbluebell Posts: 3
Hi, I am looking for information about dealing with a hernitated disc while pregnant. I just found out that I am pregnant. Obviously it was not planned, as I wanted to wait until my back issues were under control. I am wondering if anyone else has dealt with this, and were you in severe pain during pregnancy? What did your doctors recommend? I have a young daughter already, and need to be able to function during pregnancy. Thanks for any advice you have! Below is some of my background info:

I have a herniated disc at L4-L5 (since April '08), along with bulging discs above and below. I have had 2 epidural steroid injections. The first injection really helped my sciatica pain, almost instantly, the second one helped a little. (Before the injections I had sciatica pain down the right leg, and numbness in the pinky & 4th toe).
I have been to physical therapy, and day to day I am not in severe pain anymore. I have leg pain only if I move a certain way, sometimes while tying my shoes, etc. I do have some back soreness/stiffness that has returned just recently. I know that I am not healed. I cannot run at all, without triggering pain, and I feel that I can't do anything active, for fear of aggravating the discs. This is very frustrating because I am only 30, and am not used to not being active, especially because I have a young daughter, and want to be able to run and play with her. Doctors have told me that surgery is an option - but they would want to do some sort of test beforehand, to confirm which disc is causing the pain. The options given to me are PT (already tried), Meds (not into taking meds), accupuncture or surgery. And now that I am pregnant, I have no idea how this will affect things....I haven't talked to my doctors yet, but plan to do so. Thanks!


  • Congratulations on being pregnant and Welcome to Spine Health! I have not been in your situation with the pregnancy, however I can relate to the rest. A smart idea to speak to your docs about the situation, so that you know what you can and cannot do if your pain gets bad again.

    Being active is not out of the picture. Just give yourself time to heal and have that precious baby and then go from there.

  • Congratulations on your pregnancy! And I am so very sorry to hear of your situation. I herniated (ruptured) a disk during my last pregnancy and can totally relate! I initially herniated the disk when my 1st son was about 4 months old. That one didn't take too much time to heal and I was back to my active self. (I'm usually very active and am only 29)
    However, when I was about 5 months pregnant this last time, I could barely walk the pain was so bad. Like you, down to my toes. I did a lot of chiropractic care just to get me through the pregnancy. I did take vicodin during the pregnancy---was very scared to, but after talking to drs, pharmacists, and doing a lot of research, I found out that it was safe and better to take it than to be in as much pain as I was in. PT did not help me as the only real help would have been to take the pressure off--which you just can't do when you're growing! We actually didn't know the extent of the herniation until after baby was born. Infact, my drs thought that it would just get better after the baby came out. That was not the case for me. I had a c-section because there was no way I could push. I healed up great from that! But I couldn't walk the week after the birth. That's when I had the MRI that showed just how bad things were. I exhausted conservative therapy- ESI's, PT, chiro, exercise (though, I couldn't do that much because the dang pain was so bad) drugs, etc. I finally gave up and had a laminectomy and diskectomy in April. (Originally hurt it last Aug, baby born in Dec)

    I am SLOWLY getting there. Very certain that I have a herniation at the above level now. I know that things aren't getting better because I have to lift my baby a thousand times a day! He's 11 months old now and I am so grateful for him, but sad to say, very depresseed over my pain. It's hard to be a stay at home mom in pain everyday and knowing that my surgeon said no more kids and that I 'm facing a fusion in about 5 years is completely devestating.

    I encourage you to see your dr right away. And do something about this NOW! How far along are you? I truly believe (but don't want to dwell on it...) that if my dr had taken more of an active role in treating my pain THEN, I wouldn't have gotten this bad. I know that there probably wasn't too much more I could have done, but I know that if I knew how serious it was, I would have slowed down. I was alone with my 2 year old (hubby was out of town for work) all summer. I was working (and VERY stressed--which is BAD for backs!) and lifting my 2 year old, cleaning, moving furniture to get ready for baby, etc....I should NOT have been doing that. So my advice...take it EASY! You can't go back!

    Good luck to you!!!
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  • well I too congratulate you on your pregnancy, I too am currently pregnant. I am 31 weeks with a HUDGE baby and also have 2 herniated discs along with degenerative disc desease. I have not had any steriod injections against my dr. advice, I was going to the chiropractor and getting massages until I couldn't afford it anymore. Now I've found that just excercising regularly barely gets me through a 40hr work week.Though the other night when I did work out I was having contractions from over doing it. I am a pharmacy tech and I'm on my feet all day and can't hardly stand it. I have opted for a c-section because of my back and I don't know if my back will ever get better. I would also like some advice on what to do.

  • I am currently 35 weeks, i have been on bdrest for 8 weeks with a herniated disk, i am going through the same procedure but i will let you know what my ob and othropeadic sugeon says, I will find out Tuesday

    hope this helps

    well after having an MRI,I have four buldging disks one of which is really bad.I have been on bedrest for 9 weeks now in agony.My obsteotrician was trying to make me have a natural birth but i am scared i would rupture them. So i carried on insisting on a caeser as my osteopath was advising it. I am now booked in for a c-section in 3 weeks.Everyone has their own views on c sections but make sure you do whats best for you.
    How many weeks are you?
    Have you had an MRI?
    I have an appointment on Thursday with an orthopeadic surgeon so will keep you updated..
  • ME TOO.....
    I increased herniation while 8 month pregnant with number too lifting my then 2 year old from the bath.....silly billy, couldnt walk for a few weeks then spontaneously got better. I was planned for a second c section because I dont go into labour, but ended up having a general anaesthetic because they could not get the needles in for the spinal....maybe because of the bad back they said. Exactly one year later herniated bad while lifting furnature when I know I shouldnt have and it didnt go away. It sux being in pain or numbness trying to look after babies, and house work and all the rest. Depressing yes. Surgery forces you to stop because you cant do anything else lol. I am hoping to have another few kids as soon as I am fused. I would not have been able to carry if not had the op, thats way too much pain and disability. But also have the word suggesting the need for a disc replacement in a few years on another level.....so for pregnancies my feeling is keep walking for as long as poss even if its slow. deff no bending only squating, and move with awareness all the time. Good luck with the pregnancy. PS I am only 29 too.
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  • Congratulations on your pregnancy. I was in a similar situation. I am currently 24 weeks pregnant - I went into my pregnancy with two disc herniations at L4 and L5, as well as degenrative disc, lumbar stenosis, scoliosis, kyphosis and fibromyalgia. I had one useless epidural steroid injection. During my 11th week I picked up a laundry basket and both herniated discs "failed." My doctor believes that one or both of the discs ruptured into multiple pieces and are damaging my nerve roots. I have been in bed since early November and unable to walk, sit, dress myself, drive, shower, cook my own food or make it to the bathroom. Fortunately I can work from home and my work has been extraordinarily forgiving and understanding. Before it got this bad I tried the chiropracter and acupuncture. I also went into for another epidural steroid injection (without the use of floroscopy). I have been in physical therapy the whole time, but cannot do anything on land whatsoever, so they have me in the therapy pools. When I'm in the pools it is the only time I can manage the pain. I highly recommend pool therapy, even if all you do is hang in the deep water for traction.

    The doctors are wary about giving me an epidural during labor because of both the scoliosis and the nerve damage (my whole left leg is numb like someone gave me a shot of novocaine). They think I will need to be on an intravenous painkiller (not morphine...) during delivery. I will be going in for surgury as soon as possible after giving birth, and the doctor believes that I will recover within mere weeks, thank God.

    My advice is start pool therapy as soon as you can. Also, be persistent with finding a great doctor. My original orthopedic surgeon would not even look at me after I told her I was pregnant. Neither would my PCP, or the entore Ortho teams at two hospitals in the Boston area. Furthermore, I switched Obstetricians because my original doctor treated me like a pill addict looking for a fix (I am not taking anything for the pain and am not interested in taking anything).

    Also, what have other people done for labor and delivery in this kind of situation? Were you able to have an epidural? Did they induce labor early (week 38-39)?

  • This is so annoying. I have had a slipped disk at L5 since a VERY young age and then Sept 08 i fell down some stairs on a boat and hurt my back again I didnt have any exrays on it as I was going to Bali so I had just continued to go to my Physio as usual. Now I am 34 weeks pregnant and have put on just over 10 kilos and my back is so sore I still go to physio and he thinks it will be fine with just doing this electrode treatment but I don't notice any difference. Im really worried that because I have only done everything through a public hospital at this stage they are not noticing my pain and what COULD happen. Im not sure what should be happening because I have been reading that L5 is very common but will there be any trouble with giving a natural birth????
  • I am currently 28 weeks pregnant, but suffered from a ruptured disc(L4/L5) and a sequestrated disc(L5/S1). After having pain treatment around the 10/11th weeks, and bedrest for 6 weeks, my back is OK, though getting a bit unstable now again as the belly gets bigger.
    My questions are:
    - what is the impact of natural birth on herniated/ruptured discs?
    - would I be able to give birth naturally?

    Has anyone with similar back issues given birth naturally that could give me some advice please....
  • Congrats on the pregnancy! I'm sorry about the back issues. I have no experience, so can't relate, but I did herniate and rupture a disc when my youngest was only 9 months old. It was awful. I was in such extreme pain that I was completely drugged up to be able to deal with it, and basically missed a month of his life, until after I had surgery. Even afer surgery, it was another 2 months until I could pick him up. He was such a stickler for his routine too, that he wouldn't even nap in bed with me or allow me to feed him his bottles in bed. He would only sleep in his crib and only have bottles in the recliner in the living room. Little buggar. He has such a close relationship with his daddy and actually prefers him over me, in part due to those few months I think.

    And for anyone whose Dr. has told them no more children, there are options. I suffered recurring miscarriages, so not the same problem as you guys, but I only had one biological child. My other 3 are adopted. If you want more children, there's ways to have them. :) I've heard many people say, including my sister, "But it's not the same." The only thing that's not the same is that you carried them for 9 months and gave birth to them and maybe they don't look like you. Doesn't matter in the grand scheme. You love them and don't view them any differently.

    My 3 adopted kids aren't even the same ethnicity as me. they are black and multi-ethnic. I seriously forget that they are adopted at times. I have even filled out family health histories and accidentally put my family info instead of their birth-family info. You just don't think about it, They're just yours.
  • I know your pain, I have the same problem S1 L4 L5, since Feb of 08. What most doctors don't know, or don't tell you is that with a herniation that bad (mine is extreme and at the worse level of herniation) you are not to lift over 5 lbs, thats a gallon of milk, that means no groccery bags, no pushing carts, no picking up children, no nothing over 5lbs. This is hard, but if you want this to heal naturally you will try your darndest! They also don't tell you that a herniation that bad on two levels takes up to 18 months to heal... most heal in the first month 80% out of the other 20%, 16% 0f those heal in 6 months, and the rest can take up to 18 months. Most doctors also don't know, or forget to tell you if you opt for surgery after giving birth you will have to pay to have it redone every 10 yrs.. which if your 30 thats probably an extra 4 or 5 very dangerous surgerys. You need lots and lots of rest and vitamins, your body is already tired due to being pregnant, you need to help it heal. Most think surgery will fix it all, but usually it fixes nothing and you end up with the same thing in a different place and are stuck in the same position... The best thing you can do for yourself is rest and physical therapy, no running, walking every day even if in pain, and taking care of yourself. I have received this information from the Mayo clinic in MN they do more of these back surgerys than any hospital in america. Just make sure you know what you are doing before you opt for surgery or think this will never go away, it takes time, and your body will fix itself. I have DDD spinal arthritus, and am only 21 years old, I've delt with this since age 12 and have healed multiple herniated discs at the worst levels of herniation that many uneducated doctors said I would have to have surgery to fix, but with a healthy lifestyle and being educated in my health I have beat the odds and have faith that anyone can too.
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