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23 years old, L5-S1 herniated, pinched nerve

YoungL5S188YYoungL5S188 Posts: 81
I am a 23 year old male. About 3 months ago, my right leg started to hurt a bit and I did not think anything of it. Last month, it started to get worse and worse, Went to an orthopedic and got an MRI. Came back with a L5-S1 disc herniation that looks like it is pinching a nerve. I was put on anti-inflammatory for a week which did nothing at all. Then I was put on a 6 day dose on oral steroid pack of Predesone. Half of the days, I was taking it I barely had any pain. The 7th day when I had no more pills, it was back to normal again. Since then it has gotten worse. I only had pain from behind my knee to right before my foot now it is throughout my whole right leg (thigh down), burning, pulsating, stinging, sharp sudden pains, etc.

As of two nights ago, my left leg started to hurt out of nowhere. When I stand up straight without jeans on, there is a bruise right behind my knee where the leg closes. the left leg has been hurting for past two days now. Behind the left knee also feels somewhat swollen possibly.

As of last night, lower back started to hurt, today lower back does not seem to hurt yet today but both legs definitely. right leg is a lot worse then the left leg but left leg definitely is in a lot of pain as well.

This runs in my family. Father and brother both have many issues. Father is now on disability because he has multiple herniated discs, multiple pinched nerves and has had 5 or 6 surgeries with no success. He is basically screwed at this point. He is on crazy painkillers (Fetanol pathces daily and Levo) for his pain cause he needs them but I refuse to start with the vicious cycle of pain killers.

I have a pain management doctor appointment tomorrow afternoon. My orthopedic that gave me MRI referral and the oral steroids said the next step is epidural shots. I feel that all that is is a band-aid for a short term until you have to go get another one.

I am scared for surgery, along with my parents are scared for me because of my father and there can always be complications. I don't know what to do but I feel literally like a 60 year old man and I can barely get up in the morning for the past few weeks to go to work. After work, I go home to my house and lay down and relax until bed. I am too young to deal with this right now. I barely have a life other then work since starting the pain problems.

I'm scared and I don't know what to do.

Any advice or help is seriously greatly appreciated.




  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 11,348
    You will soon find out that there are so many others in your age group that are dealing with similar issues.

    It sounds like you are going about this the right way.
    Getting to see various doctors, having diagnostic tests done and then going on conservative treatments.

    Don't think these are just band-aid approaches. For many people it is enough to get them past the point where, managing their situation is without surgery and just OTC medications.

    Avoiding that first surgery should be a major priority with you. For many, once they have had that first surgery, it seems like the flood gates open. But there are thousands of patients who had one spinal surgery and have never had another one.

    Pain medications along with other essential medications is what is needed at times to manage pain situations. Take a look at our FAQ and scroll down until you see "The Blend" That is something I wrote a while ago and firmly believe in.

    It is important to stay ahead of this. Do not like it build up and get worse.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thank for your reply. I appreciate it. Got my MRI Cd and Report last night. Report shows they found central disc degeneration at L5-S1 region along with inpingment on S1 nerves bilaterally (to both legs), thats why I feel the pain in both legs now.

    As for the painkillers, I refuse to take any painkillers as bad as it may get. I just wont let myself take them.

    Hoping I can get a steroid injection today at the doctor. I'll update after the doctor.
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  • Have to wait until the 17th for the shot. I cant wait that long. Doc had no other open appts. Im hurting so much. Its getting worse everyday!

    He gave me hydrocodone 10 325s and they arent helping at all. I hate them but i needed something tonight and it didnt even help. Just made me feel really out of it.
  • Hello Nick,

    I am sorry u are having this issues being so young.. Hang in there tough... I know ifs horrible to feel like 60 being 23.. Many many people get better with conservative treatment.. Pain is better than numbness and I have a feeling within a few months you will feel better.. My left/right legbilateral sciatica last 3 months, then started to subside.. traction FOR ME made it worse , stretching was okay, but honestly what i felt helped me was exercise bike and eventually when i could do the eliptical.. I could not do the eliptical til the 3rd month.. I saw 3 different docs who gave all differrent opinions. one wanted to do 3 level fusion, anohter was MED surgery, and last was nothing.. IF U GOT ONLY 1 level of issues on the MRI and u had 2 MRI to compare I would lookinto Laser surgery.. Reason i say this with only 1 level of issues there is a better chance of success.. I have 3 levels of issues so if theyzap one level it could be another.. My friend did lazer sugery and he has beenhappy for 3 years.. Lazer surgery suppose to not effect anything other than a small possibility of scar tissue but nothing comopared to laminecomy and fusions ,,,etc..

    I am not a expert ... Give it time and take it easy even if it starts to feel beter!
    take care.bggbb
  • I went in on Friday to the hospital where my pain management doctor is located. At 11am he did 2 steroid injections. I'm guessing one for the right side and one for the left side?

    Back was very soar after the injections until the next day soreness got much better. Seems that my right leg which the sciatica originally started in only, is in alot less pain no more pulsating pain or tingling.

    My left leg which started week or two after right leg sciatica started is now unbearable.

    Since the shot though, my left leg has been unbearable even worse.

    Today and yesterday morning was the first days I actually woke up in pain. Usually when I wake up, I feel pretty good for a 4-6 hours and then it gets really bad around 3pm but for some reason last 2 days, instant pain when I wake up. Making it hard to to go to work in the morning.

    Also went to see a chiropractor yesterday because I was not sure what else to do.

    I'm 23 years old and i'm always on the go constantly, i am starting break down because I can't say laying around and doing nothing everyday after work!

    Any suggestions at this point?
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  • Hi NIck

    I can definately relate to your condition, I am an active 24 year old male recovering from a herniated disc at l4 l5.

    I suffered with sciatic pain for sometime (at times un bareable) I visited a chiropractor and had 5 sessions of manipulation and acupuncture which gave me no respite at all if anything my pain became worse and more frequent. The chiropractor reffered me to a surgeon and I had an MRI scan where I was diagnosed with my herniated disc, I felt my life was turned upside down and felt very depressed at times I couldnt walk.

    My surgeon recommended a discectomy operation which he advised is around 75% successful with HIGH risks associated, I declined and he recommended I try conservative treatments.

    For the last 8 weeks I have been using Mckenzie(google or YouTube if unsure) exercises to localise the pain in my back, I apply ice to the lower part of my back 4/5 times a day and I am taking on 2500mg of glucosomine sulphate. Since doing this I have seen drastic improvement in the shooting pains down my leg and lower pain in my back.

    I am not stating that this will help you like it has me however if someone would have given me this advice 3 months ago I would have welcomed it with open arms.....give it ago what have you got to lose?

    I am now back at the gym, granted only doing static exercises and plan on returning to rugby in the near future. Good luck and stay strong!
  • Went to see an orthopedic surgeon in Columbia Medical in NYC on friday. He spent about 45 minutes with me explaining everything. He feels that he does not want to operate on me because I am young and feels he will have to see me in a few more years again. He thinks more epidural steroid injections, rehab/PT and exercises will help me and I should be better within 2-3 months. It already has been over 2 months. Makes me confused

    Going to see a neurosurgeon for a 2nd opinion tomorrow and another injection on my left side( worse then my right leg) on Friday again.

    Also i dont know if it is associated but for the past 3 or 4 days my left arm feels a bit weak and my left part of my neck feels weird/stiff.


  • Most orthopaedics will refrain from surgery as they did with me many years ago due to being too young at the time,they like to try alternative treatments first then if all fails then they will consider an operation,unfortunately for us we have to endure the pain for the next few years perhaps some people will be lucky enough to get permanent relief, yet reading many posts a lot of people eventually end up with surgery.
    These injections can help to diagnose the exact spot some work some don't it is a way of finding where the pain is being caused.good luck

    You mention arm weakness this is possible it is your neck causing this hopefully it's just tense muscle causing irritation to nerves and may well calm down in time,I would try using a mix of cold and hot packs to contract and relax the muscles,this is what my physio told me,she said preferably cold over hot.also a TENS may help.

    Best of luck Des

  • Nick,
    EVERYONE IS SO DIFFERENT!! My neighbor had sciatica for ATLEAST 1 YEAR.. She was miserable and that was about 15 years ago.. She told me she was a mess and thought she would never be the same.. For 1 whole years she suffered, then after the first year it started to get better, but for the last 15 years she is very careful cause knows it can go at any time.. Again some people never get better and others get better in MONTHS sometimes many months.. You have to remember ONE very important thing IF YOU EVER feel better that does not mean you are normal or ready to go for a HARD RUN or play basketball etc.. You are going to have to commit yourself to take it easy even though u may feel good.. Nerve issues can be a weird thing.. I mean some people wake up one day AND MUST HAVE EMERGENCY back SURGERY and never suffer a day of back pain before where others are in pain for years and doctors still dont feel they need surgery.. Some people can have ONE HORRIBLE LEVEL of BACK ISSUES and must have surgery when others have 4 LEVELS of BACK ISSUES and never need sugery.. Its a mess and I feel for you but you are not alone.. As far as your neck goes once you are aware you have spine problems ANYTHING will make you think the worse.. Not saying its not something but once u know u got issues its easier to contribute everything you feel to your cervical, lumbar, or thoracic..

    Its fustrating with the pain.. I know!!I KNOW! I am living with it.. As i type i can feel the burning pain in both butt CHEEKS, then when i stand up i will expect the pain to shoot down my left leg.. Hang in there! I have a feeling it will get better soon!! One thing that helps me was staying hydrated and doing indoor bicycle.. THat along with massage therpy(EXPENSIVE) where the best for me.. It took me about 4 months before i could do eliptical with out have PAIN at a level of atleast 7.. Now 4 months after my SCIATICA issues i am at a pain level of 3 to 7 just depends.. Mostly 3..

    Take care!
  • Hi, Nick,
    It seems we have almost the exact problem..my pain started Jan 1st..Happy New year to me.started in my lower left back then started getting stabbing pains,burning and spasms. I also had a bruise in the beginning just like you described. Had an MRI same problem as you but only in the left leg every now and then I feel a little pain in the right. So far I had my first shot on Feb 2. it took about 8 days to start to feel approvement. I also saw a surgeon he said that the disc will heal on it's own it takes several months. Put the disc will never be 100%. in the mean time he told me to do the shots and to either walk for 20-30 min or do the elliptical. Only low impact exercise. So far i'm into About 4 weeks of having this shot done feeling about 50% better. But I do take 800 mg of ibuprofen and I ice several times a day. I also keep moving laying around makes it worse. I'm getting another shot this Wednesday hopefully this works.. Your allowed up to 3 shots a year. I'm trying to avoid surgery and hoping that if I wait long enough that it will slowly go away. I was taking norco after my first shot but now 4 weeks later I'm only taking the ibuprofen and making my self walk or the elliptical 3 times a week. I hope you feel better soon. This pain is awful...
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