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Looking for others experience and advice on herniated disc

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:38 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hi all,

My name is Stephanie and I'm new here. Before I ask what I'm looking for... let me give you some background on my condition.

I'm a very active 25 year old with no kids. 2 years ago, I started feeling this sharp pain in my back every morning that got progressively worse over the months until I finally went to the doctors in April of 2008. I had a MRI and was diagnosed with a herniated disc at L4/L5 and a bulging disc at L5/S1. This is NOT caused by any underlying condition such as DDD, etc. My doctor referred me to physical therapy which I completed from May-July of 2008. This did not help at all. In July of 2008, I was referred to a physiatrist for a cortisone injection. I found this very helpful put the pain ended up returning months later. I also tried manipulation and decompression. As the time went on, the shots lasted less and less time and they weren't as effective at pain relief. Here I am now, about to have my 5th cortisone injection tomorrow since August of 2008. Each time I flare up the disc is worse than the time before. I reherniated 4 weeks ago... was out of work for 2... and now I'm moving but in a lot of pain and can't really do anything other then work. My doctor and I just don't understand why this keeps happening to me. Here's why:
I'm not overweight. I don't smoke. I have no family history of back problems. I work with a certified personal trainer 4x a week on core strengthening, low impact cardio and mild weight training. I don't wear high heels. I bought a Temperpedic mattress and a car with lumbar support. I even have an ergonomically correct chair at work.
Each time I flare up is worse than the time before. I've never had to go to the hospital before this past time! The pain was that bad!

So I'm sorry for blabbing and thank you for reading all this!
I guess what I'm looking for is to see if anyone has had a similar experience with trying ALL the conservative treatments and getting no results. Where did you go from here? Also, has anyone without DDD undergone surgery such as a discectomy? How did that turn out?

Thank you so much for reading and I appreciate any help or guidance!!

Stephanie :)))


  • I did have a microdiscectomy almost 2 years ago. I do have DDD but I had the surgery for an annular tear. The surgery did help the pain going down my leg but did not help my back pain. I have tried every conservative treatment that there is currently available before having surgery. Have you seen a spine specialist? Have you had at least 2 opinions? Sometimes it is better to get at least 2 opinions in order to figure out what your best options may be. Good luck.
  • Thank you for responding.
    I am currently seeing a physiatrist who specializes in spine conditions. I've also booked an appt. with an orthopedic spine surgeon, just as a consultation. I was initially very against surgery, but I just don't know what to do at this point. I was so sure that treating this conservatively would work and it just hasn't. I figure it's best to weigh all the options and get the opinions of people who have been down the same road.
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  • Like you I have had recurrent problems with my back and sciatica. Although my discs at L4/L5 and L5/S1 are degenerated, my other discs are fine so I haven't been given a diagnosis of DDD. My microdisectomy has unfortunately not resolved my problem, but I do know two other people who it has worked for.

    It certainly sounds like you have done all you can conservatively. Have you had another MRI done since the one in April 2008? It may be that another one shows something different that could be causing the problem. It is definitely worth seeing a spine specialist. You may even be lucky and get one like mine who doesn't rush into surgery unless it is really necessary.

    Good luck and keep us posted

  • :H :D Welcome!

    Well, It certainly seems that you've done everything right to try to assist in healing your discs issues. You didn't mention if the physiatrist has you on any medications for pain.

    Sciatica is a tricky little devil. I started with issues in October of 08 and three epidurals later was still in pain -- the passage of time seemed to help in my case. I, like you, tried everything to get on top of the situation but sciatica seems to have a mind of its own. I take lyrica (for nerve pain), tramadol 50 mg and advil every day to keep it at bay. I do scretches every day.

    What I'm getting at is you should have some pain management available to you for the flare ups until the right protocol can be found so you don't wind up at the ER.

    I am so sorry that you are dealing with this at such a young age -- I'm older so expect it as my body ages.

    Take care,

  • I'm sorry to hear about your lack of luck in healing your pesky disc.

    I actually had my first herniation (protrusion)@L5-S1 back in '01 (at the age of 24) and was treated successfully with PT.

    When I herniated (extrustion) L4-L5 two years ago, it was the first time that I heard I had DDD. I also found out that I had herniated (protrusion) L3-L4 at that time but it wasn't causing symptoms. Do you have copies of you MRI reports? The location and size of your herniation can play a big role in what's going on with your back.

    I had a micro-D at the tender age of 30 two years ago because I was in a great deal of pain and wasn't improving with conservative treatment. Actually, when I met with my neurosurgeon for my initial consult he flat out told me that surgery was really the only answer because my disc extrustion was so large. I can say I did quite well with my surgery until I re-herniated again in September of this year. This time the herniation is much smaller but just as annoying (so far) probably due to the fact of the location. Same level, same side but further to the left. Right now, I am trying all of the conservative methods again to see what can be done...I am scheduled for my second epidural steroid injection next week.

    Though I'm told I have DDD at two levels, the pain I'm having right now is almost 95% leg pain which points to an actual disc issue.

    DDD is just a part of aging...some of us do it a little faster but they could find it just as easily on a young, asymptomatic adult.

    I totally support trying all the conservative treatments but sometimes you have realize when you've hit the end of that road. The big questions are how tolerable is your pain, how much does it affect your normal day-to-day life, etc. Really, its a very personal decision.

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  • I am wondering why you think you re-herniated especially since you have not had another MRI? Also I have found that what I have thought to be slowing down to allow to heal is sometimes not slow enough. Meaning you really need to focus on simpler mckenzie type PT with simple walking. If you push it a bit too much the pains will just come back. Alo has the doctor prescribed any meds other than shots?

  • Hi Stephanie!

    My brother has had surgery on a herniated disc and he does NOT have DDD. As far as I know, they went in and drained some of the disc, since it still had its gelatinous core. The disc receded and it was successful for him.
    I, on the other hand, am a completely different story.
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