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Herniated disc, just entered 5th month...

nosaj85nnosaj85 Posts: 6
I'm 25 and have always been fairly athletic. In November I began to get back pain. Not too bad, but I rested as much as possible, stopped exercising, and didn't go out as much.

In January the pain began to quickly worsen. By early February I had been diagnosed with a herniated disc (L4-L5) that became so painful it would sometimes take me 30 minutes to get out of bed (really bad pain in my back and right butt, a little tingling and weakness below the knee).

I have had 2 epidural injections that took away about 50% of the pain, and now, with pain killers, I feel about 75% better for most of the day, but I still hurt in the morning, can't sit down for more than a few minutes, etc. I'm in my 3rd week of physical therapy, but don't feel like I've been improving. The only time I don't hurt is when I'm walking.

It's now been 5 months with some pain, and 3 months with more severe pain. I still can't exercise or do most of the things I would do in my normal life. I have lost 25 pounds, often feel tired and emotionally on edge, my performance at work is hurting a lot, and my social life is completely gone (people stop calling when you don't go out with them for 5 months).

I don't think I'm bad enough that I need surgery, but I also don't seem to be improvingtoo much any more and I'm having more and more trouble dealing with this situation. I'd just like to hear from people who have gone through similar experiences and I appreciate anyone who will share there thoughts.



  • I've lost 15 pounds, not 25. I've had my body fat % checked and the 15 pounds I've lost is all muscle.
  • Nosaj - I'm no doctor, just someone in the same boat.

    I've had an L4-L5 herniation for 9 months, with pain in my back, right hip and right leg. I too have undergone PT, with no success at all. First, I went to a chiropractor, who couldn't help me at all. I went to a PM, had X-rays and an MRI, then I had a series of 3 epidural injections last fall, and they DID help, for 3 months... then the pain returned. Another series of injections did nothing, so my PM doc ordered PT, a nerve conduction study, an MRI, the works. I, like you, have lost 30 pounds.

    My doctor told me that 25% of the time, herniated discs will heal on their own. He said that discectomies improve the patient's condition 1/3 of the time, do nothing 1/3 of the time, and actually degrade the patient's condition 1/3 of the time.

    However, after months of pills, injections, PT, stretching, nothing has changed - my pain has only gotten worse.

    So... tomorrow, I'm going to see a surgeon, about a discectomy, or whatever he advises. I'll get a couple of opinions, but - knowing the odds - I'll opt for whatever it takes, to have a chance of a life with less pain.

    I can't tell you what decision to make, Nosaj. I can only share my experience, and let you know you're not alone, and that there are options. I hope your situation can be resolved without surgery, but a life with constant pain isn't worth tolerating, if other options present themselves... at least in my humble opinion.

    I'll pray for you.
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  • Thank you for sharing your experiences. Without the strong visual signs of something wrong, I don't think most people I know really appreciate what I'm going through, so it's comforting to hear from other people who are sharing similar experiences as mine.

    Good luck with the surgeon, and please keep me up-to-date on your progress.

    Best of luck,
  • Hi guys..sorry for interupting. I'm no doctor just someone who has the similar experience too but compared with mrmhead66, i just abt entered to 5 months having difficulties to walk n move. My MRI results shows multiple bulging disc from L2-L5 n having impingement nerve root @ L5S1 n bilateral @ L4..my toes feel numbness n leg pain from my hip until my leg..

    Im taking pills too to reduce the pain - most of it pain killer with stronger doses. Besides that - I go for fisio session, accupunture, traditional massage..- but relief me the pain for a very short period of time. it came back next morning..

    my doc planned to give epidural injections but he said no repetitive one..is that true?
  • Bintu,

    I'm sorry to hear about your experience. I'm not quite sure I understand your question though... I believe most people get 3 epidural injections, and I hear that quite a few people have success with those, though for me they only relieved about 25-50% of the pain, and only for about a week.

    On another note, a few days ago I began a new NSAID, meloxicam, and it has been pretty good. I still can't do most of my normal activities, but after taking it I had almost none of the constant pain during the day and I could once again do (some) physical therapy. It felt great to have a pain free day! Some of the sciatic pain has come back the last 2 days, nowhere near as bad as before, but it's actually really depressing to even have slight constant pain after going a few days without any pain. I'm hoping it doesn't get any worse and that I can have a little more success with the physical therapy now that I can be a bit more aggressive with it. We'll see what happens...
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  • Nosaj85

    Thanks for the info..
    Do you seek for 2nd or 3rd opinion on your prob? Is that necessary?
    Well, me too appreciate n aiming a day free without pain..*sigh*
  • Been there, as most of us have. I had similar situation back in 2009...did the gamit of treatments...finally saw and surgeon and then pictures of my back and was astonished as to how messed up it was. Had major surgery, with fusion, pins, rods, etc., which alleviated all pain from left leg, which is where I had my problem. Now, I experience pain in my right leg and, after going to a neurosurgeon, find I need a 2nd surgery (hemilaminotomy/foraminotomy)...however, after years of pain and exhausting all other possibilities, the surgery(s) may be worth it.
  • I did get multiple opinions, but that is because I had a few doctors initially get it wrong. First doctor thought I had a strained tendon in my back. Second said my hip was out of alignment. Third took xrays and said that my lumbar spine hadn't fully fused to my sacrum spine and that I would need physical therapy for the rest of my life. Wanting such a drastic diagnosis verified, I went to a fourth doctor, an orthopedic who focused on the back. He said the earlier doctors were all probably wrong, sent me in for an MRI, and showed me the actual herniated disc.

    While it seems like you already have an accurate diagnosis, I guess that it couldn't hurt to see another doctor, and that doctor may know some tidbit of information that can help you out.
  • Hello,

    I'm Gabi, 31 years old and 3 herniated disc in my lumbar spine. It seems I am in exactly the same situation like you were in 2011, I mean I can seat for ten minutes, I cannot do normal activities, but I can walk. A short history:
    9 month ago I had an MRI the results were:
    L3-L4: 8-12-11 mm
    L4-L5: 9-11-9 mm
    L5-S1: 8-15-5 mm

    Anyway , in this time I stopped working and after 6 month I made another MRI which shows that the dimensions were shrinking. L3-L4 remains the same (the disc is not ruptured here), L4-L5 was 4 mm and L5-S1 was 6 mm. So I continued waiting and hoping to disappear, but another 3 months have past, and now after 9 months I have no idea what decision to make. I would like to go to work, and to have my life back, and I think about having surgery.

    Please let me know, how you solved this problem, if you had surgery, please tell me how you feel now.

    Thank you and best wishes!
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