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Disc Protrusion? Do I wait until this thing fully herniates?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:25 AM in Lower Back Pain
I have had lower back pain of some sort or another for the last 14 years. My condition seems to get worse every year. This year I started getting numbness and pain in my left leg that was so bad that I couldn't sleep.
I had an MRI that showed a disc Protrusion between the L4 and L5. I have done 4 months of PT and three epidural shots. The pain in the leg is gone, but the lower back pain is as bad as ever. I live an active lifestyle and I am not ready to slow down. Would a discectomy let me return to a life of Skateboarding, wrestling, and other high impact sports?

Any Help is Appreciated!

D. Coombs


  • Hey there D. Coombs,
    Sorry to hear about your pain. Pain in the back is like a tooth ache...it just doesn't seem to go away! As far as surgeries go, as far as I know, docs usually shy away from surgery as long as possible because tomorrow and or perfect recoveries are promised to no one. I have neck problems, but I think the principle is the same: surgeries on the spine are complicated and have many risks. My 3rd opinion doc was a surgeon specifically for athletes, and he did a surgery (discectomy with fusion in the neck) on a pro ball player, and the guy returned to pro football in time. My Dr. even went through fusion at two levels himself, and is doing fine. On the other hand, I have heard of and spoken to many folks who have come out of surgeries numb in the opposite side, in more pain, etc. So, as I would love to promise a good outcome, or course I am not a doc and cannot. It is tremendously beneficial that you are in such good shape going into this, though, if you do need surgery. I know how you feel D...I used to be a competitive kickboxer and cannot do it any longer due to serious neck injury. Hang in there baby, and get well soon. Enjoy the blessings of sports as long as you can. Get a great doctor and 2nd/3rd opinions too. Then you will be able to make a better decision for yourself.
    Laura (ouch)
  • I had a microcdiscectomy in December of last year and it was like a miracle. From the moment I woke up, I was aware that the pain in my leg and back was gone. Sure, I had surgical pain, but it was a lot different. Unfortunately for me, I have three severely damaged discs and my relief only lasted six months. If you only have that one bad disc and just a bit of a protrusion, it could be that the discectomy would fix the whole problem. Of course, I'm not a doctor, but I can only tell you of my experience. All the best to you.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
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  • Will surgery be more benificial now, or should I wait until my problems gets worse. As of now, I have to take a half of a 5mg Vicoden to train Jiu Jitsu and then I am very sore for the next few days.
  • Hey drcoombs, be careful training on pain meds. They will dull the pain enough to train, but since you won't feel pain, you may overtrain and injure yourself even more. Pain warns us that something is wrong. If you can't feel it....danger danger danger. I would just hate to hear of you not being able to train anymore. Do you do MMA? Are you competitive? I used to to taekwondo and kickboxing. It is a part of me and in my blood. Can't train right now and it is driving my crazy...so you train for the both of us okay? ;o) Just be careful, please. Keep me updated on your progress. Is there any way you can get in to see a good sports medicine doc? Take care drcoombs
  • No, MMA for me! I don't even go for takedowns anymore. I just immediately jump a guard to prevent being taken down. I think my competition days are over, but I can't give up training the Jits. I have only been taking a very small amount of vicoden befor training, so I still feel some pain. Thanks for the warning though. I will let you know how things are going, trying to prepare for tournament in a month.
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