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Ruptured disc at L5 with sciatica-HELP

potbellypatppotbellypat Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:52 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hello all,

Little background: I am a 29 former college football player. I have been involved in powerlifting since I was fifteen (sports as long as I can remember), and over the last 5 years I have had (what seemed like) minor back issues squatting and deadlifting. I always thought it was muscular and would take time off until the pain subsided while lifting.

I am very active in recreational sports and I still weightlift as well (neither since the injury). In late January after playing basketball I awoke the the next day with (what I know now as) severe sciatica in my right buttock and calf. I have gotten an MRI (14mm disc extrusion w/o fragmentation).

After speaking to an Ortho, even though the pain was severe I opted see if it would heal on its own. I have since been doing PT every day and am in the middle of Chiropractic spinal decompression. The pain is still very bad but the Percocets and Meloxicam make it bearable. I have gotten back 75% function of my big toe (which was completely gone), I can support my bodyweight on my right heel now (I couldn't do that at all initially), and the numbness of my leg and the top of my foot is gone as well. The sciatica pain has not gotten better.

It has been 3 months since the injury and I know that I still have a ways to go, but based on what I have written is it plausible to think I will ever be able to run/lift/play basketball/be active again? I am very positive, but before the injury, I haven't been more than 1 week without being somewhat active, in my whole life.

Sorry for the long post, thank you for any help.


  • Ruptured discs do not heal as well on their own as a Bulging Disc does. Ive seen a lot of Doctors Assume that a Bulging Disc , Ruptured Disk and Herniated Disc are all the same, and they are not. They are very Different. Bulging means just that, its pushing out, Herniated and Ruptured mean its broken open and is leaking disc material and fluid.

    Now the Reason you are Having Pain at all is because of Spinal Stenosis or Irritation. When the Disc Ruptured it pressed out its insides against your Nerves. Think of a Jelly donut being squeezed. The Jelly is very irritating to the Nerves so when the jelly insides touches the Nerves you have either one of two scenarios.

    1. It irritates the heck outta the nerve and causes pain , some numbness, and tingly feelings.
    2. It compresses the Spinal Cord to some degree and causes more severe symptoms of Pain, Numbness, Tingling, saddle anesthesia and more. This is Spinal Stenosis.It causes problems walking.

    I'm also 29, I didn't have a choice on my surgery but you do.I recommend you talk to the Doctor about the Surgery. If you can have it done Laprascopicaly or a Micro Disectomy, then I would say go for it. If it is a More involved surgery then there is more to consider. But with the symptoms you describe, Im very surprised you have not been pressed more for surgery.

    With out surgery, I think you may years away from being back to normal. With, 6 Months.

    Please Keep in Mind, Iam not a Doctor. I am Giving you Opinion only , using Knowledge I have gained from my own Medical Problems and Conditions.

    I wish you all the best. Please let us know what you decide.
  • If you have a herniated or ruptured disc, that pain won't go away until you have a surgeon remove the material or your body removes it naturally, which coup take years. I had a 16 inch protrusion whichd left much of my left leg
    numb. I woke up from surgery and the pain was gone. some minor pain still keeps me company, but it is very tolerable. the longer you wait, the longer it takes to heal.
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  • I have several crushed discs in the lumbar region. I am currently being treated with injections where the surgeon injects cortesone and numbing agent. These have provided quite a bit of relief from the sciatic pain and last about 3 months. Surgeon said he would recommend I continue with the injections as long as they work and when the quit he would recommend fusion.
    I think you are right to try conservative measures first.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • Thank you for the replies guys. Davrunner to answer your post, my next step is to get the shots for the pain. I was apprehensive at first, the pain lets me know that I can't push myself, a false sense of security, you know. However, I know that I have to keep my activity level at zero, aside from my PT and walking. After I read your post I got a referral from the chiro this afternoon, and will keep you guys posted on my progress.

  • davrunner said:
    I have several crushed discs in the lumbar region. I am currently being treated with injections where the surgeon injects cortesone and numbing agent. These have provided quite a bit of relief from the sciatic pain and last about 3 months. Surgeon said he would recommend I continue with the injections as long as they work and when the quit he would recommend fusion.
    I think you are right to try conservative measures first.
    I was told injections only are allowed twice a year? Are you not worried about the long term side effects? How many Injections have you had?

    Do you have the Numbness and Tingling remain after the injections?
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  • Many people will injure themselves and will get a steroid pack for 7 days to reduce swelling. This is the same as a dose for an injection. You are only supposed to get up to two doses per year. Many people fail to consider the 7 day pills treatment and that can cause kidney problems...and increased scar tissue.
  • I see my PM Clinic Doctor on Friday to Discuss Cortisone Injections. But I already had a large course of Cortisone through Iv. Does that mean I could only receive one other dose safely for the next year?

    Because I have heard it may require 2-3 Injections for Maximum benefit, Im wondering why they are bothering.
  • I read and have heard that if you wait too long to have the discectomny/laminectomy (or whatever the doctor suggests) the nerve damage can become permanent. You need to get a second opinion from an orthopedic surgeon on your situation, because if you want to get back into your sports you need to be sure you aren't damaging your chances. I would look up a reputable sports medicine practice because they are dedicated to getting their patients back into their sporting endeavors. Then you will at least have another medical opinion to get you to your goal of getting back into your athletics. JMO, I may be dead wrong.
  • My ortho finally stopped me from having the cortisone injections because I was constantly getting them. They helped but it was getting to be too much and he thought it might be making "hamburger" out of my lower back. I probably have had 20 like injections in my lifetime. My pain med dr would do them in a course of three during every session. Like one then wait a week, then another, then wait a week, then the third. He said it was better to do three smaller doses rather than one big one. I don't know if that is true or if he just wanted to bill three times. I really really liked him though, but the time for me has passed for all that I guess. He was really good, I hardly had any pain when he did the procedure and he was very quick. I had this one orthopedic doctor once a long time ago who did it and it was AWFUL!!!! He tried for like 10-15 minutes to get the needle into he right place. I was crying and screaming at him almost on the table. He did NOT know what the heck he was doing. Anyway,I am SO rambling. If you do get injections, I totally suggest going to a respected pain medicine doctor, they much more know what they are doing.
  • I read you can have three injections a year. However I would be its the TOTAL amount that counts not the number. The pain medicine doctor will guide you in the right direction I bet, so good luck. I forgot to mention that my injections were only three a year for the most part.
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