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27 Male - 7 Months "mild" L5/S1 Herniation



  • I am about 4 months in since my initial visit to the doc. I have seen some relief, but not much. I'd say if I started on a 7-8 pain level, I am now at a 4-5. A few days, I have actually been pain free. But the pain always seems to return. Sooo confusing and frustrating!!! What I worry about is permanent pain & damage. I am going to see my doc Friday and speaking to him about epidural injections.
    I have cut out ANYthing that would cause strain on my back. IE lifting, running, bending over, twisting, etc. Done.
    I do all my stretches and exercises my PT have me religiously.

    I am still able to work (sitting), but get up every 30min or so to walk. Which does help. I use ice about 2-3 times a day. I've been popping IBprofen 800's like its my job. I am afraid that any sitting may be hurting my situation, but really can't take off work. The one constant I've had is numbness in my left foot (outside and on pinkie toe -- ie L1/S1). Its numb about 90% of the time. I really hope that isn't a sign of permanent damage.

    So any suggestions, beyond what you mentioned above would be fantastic.
  • I have been through the same mess as you when I was 18 years old. I had a disectomy on the L5 and S1, I also had a herniation on my L4 but it wasn't causing me any pain. I had my surgery when I was 19 and now I am 24 years old and have very mild pain. My pain only happens when I work out for long periods of time or slept wrong. I have some flare ups that are so bad I just want to cry or throw myself off a cliff! If the pain is bearable I would suggest that you look into doing acupuncture and checking with your chiropractor about disc decompression. I have been doing decompressions and it has helped a lot! Also if you are doing pelvis tilts, that will help with the pain in the lower back because you are allowing your nerves to not be pinched. Make sure you are sleeping on your back with pillows under your legs, elevation is going to help with your back also.

    I wish you luck and I hope you find relief
    Heather :)
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  • Wow a lot of comments since I last visited, thats for keeping this thread alive.

    I know you are concerned about your job mate, but look at it long term. Any further damage you do now you may not work for a very long time. As mentioned many times pain is a signal. If there are not options available then I dont know what to advise, you know your situation better than anyone :(

    Its been really up and down for me of late, I will keep it brief:

    - Started to see a chiro in hope for more help. He mentioned I was tight in the upper and lower back, but my MRI looks okay for a full recovery. They performed ultra sound and electrotherapy for the muscle spasms, however what really loosened my back up was the use of an extremely hot hot-pack over the lumbar errectors (I will admit I was screaming like a little girl). Since having that done for about 20mins 3 times a week my lower back is no longer tight at all. Amazing. Id invest in a hot water bottle and try it once a day in the evening time for the same duration (if you still have the spasms).

    - The chiro however didnt give me much faith, he was pushing me to return to work, but from experience every time I sit down I get the "disc' pains and numbness in my butt. Tried it a couple of times during his sessions and made me feel worse. He was stumped, so I canceled the last two sessions...

    - The chiro was a last attempt at me returning to work which was successful at curing the muscle spasms but still not 100% myself (still nagging pains at say 3-4 level). I noticed I couldnt stand for long without discomfort, and sitting again still a major issue. Have handed in my notice at work to look into long term recovery.

    - I started re-looking into reabilitation of the body and curing anterior pelvic tilt and stumbled upon two reabilitation/posture specialists:
    = John Miller
    = Pete Egoscue

    - I found some pretty amazing stretches to help release the tightness and reverse the affects of bad posture. One of the best stretches is the supline groin stretch. Anyhow, John advised me on certain stretches to go with my core workouts and they seem to be helping a lot. Ive cured the standing up problems and feel much less tense around my lower back. However still have problems sitting down, I get the same old pain so will avoid it at all costs until I feel more confident

    - I agree with you on the McKenzie stretches, its purpose is to move the pain back to just the lower back. I felt it becoming uncomfortable so removed it from my routine.

    - However, today I have no idea what Ive done, but I have shooting pains in my lower back, this time the left hand side (if facing me). Previously its always been the right hand side annoying me. The amount of rest Ive taken now I would have thought my disc bulge would have severely reduced. So I have no idea whats going on. Its got me down quite a lot this evening after making such amazing progress.. I hate to say it but I feel something is seriously wrong around my L5-S1 area and nobody will ever be able to pin point it because Im not "that bad". My pains and discomfort arent severe enough to justify surgery, but i feel this is the only way I will reach the next level as it were (if it is successful).

    - I return back to the UK soon so plan to invest in an inversion table (read many good things about this), and continue with John Miller's exercises as well as core strengthening. The exercises he advises which I urge you to look into are:

    - Static back
    - Supine groin
    - Prone frog
    - Cobra
    - Hip crossover

    I am dreading the flight back, I feel it will be a disaster and I will leave the plane on a stretcher. But I cant stay where I am I need to return home with my family. Anyhow, at the peak of my recovery pain was at 0.5 whilst standing (lol), discomfort Id say between 1 and 2.

    Haha, and I said brief huh, my fingers do run away with themselves some times.

    Depression I totally understand Hutson, the pain like now really gets me down. Doesnt even have to be high, if I feel I have degressed in recovery it makes me really moody and negative. I cant help it, its just been way too long feeling this way. You just have to keep telling yourself you will get better, but only if you do all the right things. :)

  • rushy,

    Man, I can't believe it, it sounds almost EXACTLY like me.I feel like something really is screwy about my L5/S1. No one has really pinpointed it yet. Sometimes I don't know if they will... Surgery is off the table because I'm not in THAT much pain and my injury isn't that severe.
    Doctor has recommended an epidural injection. This, to me, is a band aid solution. Sure, I may feel great for a short period, but the pain will almost always return. I'd almost rather deal with the pain, IF there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Again, IF!

    For example. This Wednesday (Sept 12). Pain during the day, horrible pain at night. Shooting pain into the pinkie toe, like someone was stabbing me there. Eventually settled down. This was after using an ice pack, which is supposed to help!
    Thursday (Sept 13) yesterday....I was pain free most of the day. Both days I did the EXACT same things(s). This is what worries me. I can be going along ok...then wham...back in pain.

    Pain has also started down my other leg (right). Its very mild on most days...then again, that's how the other leg started.

    Most days it goes like this: Wake up almost pain free. Usually pain free up until 11-12 in the afternoon. Pain starts, slowly creeping in around 1-2pm. By 4pm, pain is usually around the 5-6 pain level. Subsides a little when get back home and lay down. 6-10pm lower pain levels, but I almost always get a few of those little pain shots down into my pinkie toe. I never sit too long at work, always walk around do stretches at work, etc.

    Here are a few things I've begun doing recently which have seemed to help. Sitting on one of those large exercise ball and bouncing lightly for about 5min. Supposedly, this helps lightly pump this disc and bring in blood and oxygen. Most times I've done this, I do get relief. I've also purchased an inversion table. This does seem to relieve some pressure, although it does seem temporary. If I could just get one of those for the office, I could just hang upside down do my work, ha!

    I've had points during the day when I was down to like a .5 or even a .25 pain level ;)! Then almost out of nowhere, it seems to return. AGGRHHH!!!

    My plan off attack. I'm going to sit down with my boss about getting possible time off. We'll see how that goes. I'm also making an appointment with a highly recommended orthopedic surgeon. NOT for surgery, but really just to sit down and review what more I could be doing...

    You know, from all the research I've put in about back pain at this point, I could probably become a damn orthopedic doctor!!
    But, in all honesty, I've seen people who've taken as little as 6 weeks to recover all the way to 2 years! Its all dependent of the person. I really believe, at least in our cases, we've had YEARS of bad habits and muscle imbalances. Its gonna take a LONG time to correct those. But it can be done. I'm at about 4 months now.

    I'm holding out hope man!!
    Please keep up updated rushy
  • I'm also going to look into those exercises you recommended.
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  • Hi Hutson,

    Sorry to hear your still struggling. Our situations do sound so alike its uncanny.

    Read your message in detail and totally know where you are at the moment. I expect you are in the same situation now?

    I will get right to the point avoiding wasting more valuable time:
    - Stop all activities that make pain worse now. Note what eases and causes pain, stop the bad and do more of the good
    - I understand finances and work are a problem, but if its making your health worse I strongly urge you to consider your work situation. Extended time off will be needed to make a return of health.
    - Get in touch with a group in the US called Egoscue, if you can afford it please I urge you get onto their self assessment and workout plan. They will assess where your spinal disorders come from, and will advise the best exercises. The most amazing one is the supine groin (google it). Its much better when used with one of their TOWER's. Will make sense after you have done some reading

    Now for the bit you may not believe. Ive done all of the above mentioned and can honestly tell you Ive not felt this good in a long time. Ive been doing the exercises now for 3 weeks. 1 week with the tower, my disc bulge pains have gone, my tight lower back muscle spasms have massively reduced!
    Its unreal. I never thought Id see the day. Ive stopped so many other habits I had which all help me. But the exercises are the main factor. Im back in the UK now, surfaces are higher, my bathroom sink is higher up, fridge access is better. I believe all this reduction in bending with the exercises and me avoiding sitting has helped so so much.

    Im waffling a bit as Im about to sleep. But had to update you before I went to bed. Mate if you dont do something serious to change your lifestyle now you may never get better.
    The advice may not work for all but Im a good case that the problems can be reversed. So look into it, I want you to feel yourself again as I am on the way to achieving myself.

    Mate I hear that. I feel Ive learned so much more than these so called back specialists and doctors. They dont know much other than surgery or drugs. You need to hit the root cause which Id say most of the time if you have hyperlordosis is tight hop flexors. Progressive stretching (IE via the TOWER) is a great way to ease them helping reduce your lordosis back to a normal position.

    Im updating you via my phone so sorry if the message is a mess. Hope its informative enough to help. Stop the McKenzie exercises and stretches and read up on Egosue and their clinics methods!

    There is light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Your situation is also very similar to mine. I'm a little older, 39, and am now suffering after years of mistreating my back, poor posture, car accident, etc. which have all resulted in degenerative disc disease with herniated discs at L5 and S1. I also have a desk job which involves hours of sitting. As a result, I have my desk raised and a high chair so I can both sit or stand while I am working on my computer. But also, my job is extremely dependent on me which does not give me the opportunity to simply take a day off when my back is in pain. I have to work through it most of the time, so things have not improved greatly for me the last couple of years. I am doing PT, and also taking hydrocodone and naproxen to fight pain. My problem is finding the right balance to keep flare-ups to a minimum. Sit too long, pain...stand too long, pain...lie in bed too long, pain. I also purchased an inversion table and find that partial inversion seems to work best for me. Fully inverted only causes more pain. Just got to find the right balance.
  • Rushy,

    Whats up man? Its so great to hear that you're improving! It really gives me hope! I read through some of your older posts rushy.....and on 9/11 you mentioned "...dreading the flight back, I feel it will be a disaster and I will leave the plane on a stretcher."
    So, its pretty obvious that whatever you're doing...keep doing it man!

    Here's my latest:
    -Finally caved and got an epidural injection on Oct 4th. At best I got about 40% relief. Lasted about 2-3 weeks. Now the pain seems to be creeping back. No surprise, I did a follow up visit and was told..."oh, you just need another injection!" ...I declined.

    -I have an appointment with Egoscue today. Very grateful that there is actually an office within 10 minutes of me. Just by what you have told me, I'm pretty excited. I've tried just about everything else in the last 6 months, and its time to give this a shot.

    -Couldn't agree more about the docs and specialists. While they all have been nice, and mean well, they only know so much. Get surgery or take drugs. We both know our bodies better than anyone. Drugs and surgery are LAST option. I want to correct the ROOT cause, not band-aid the issue.
    Funny you mention "hyperlordosis" because that is exactly what the doc told me I was developing when i got the injection. Its also funny you mention tight hip flexors because I'm constantly massaging the area because it feels so tight.

    All right, off to my Egoscue appointment. Thanks for the encouragement rushy!

  • Hi all. Has been so long that I have posted on here.

    Have read the last posts, sorry to hear you guys are still on the pain improvement journey. I'd like to think that you both are better now?

    I'm know for long posts so will try and keep it short. But what a journey the last few years have been. Whist I am still in pain daily, I can happily tell you my pain levels are now from a scale of 1 to at very most 4.

    I am back at work now in another new job, Im back in the gym also "only" doing weighted compound lifts (squats / deadlifts), really feel like I have a large portion of my life back.

    Whilst I believe the key thing for my recovery has been time, I must say increasing the amount of walking i do helps greatly, avoiding sitting down for long periods and finally the compound lifts actually really help out too. I wouldn't advise lifting weights until anyone is certain in their ability to do so. But its transforming my posture strength. Front squats with a barbell are a God send. If you can master them I do recommend them.
    If you can. Start them with only using your body weight. Once you master the movements.

    Ah also forgot, I invested in an inversion table also, another great addition to my LBP avoidance routine. I spend about 20 mins a day on it and it really helps stretch the vertebrae out. Feel so good for it once I've been on it.

    I hope this info is helpful to you all, and my story I'm so proud of in terms of recovery. I never thought I'd salvage any type of life. But I would say that im more healthy now than I have ever been. And can pretty much enjoy anything other than long periods of sitting (which isnt a bad thing really).

    It's all down to posture the way I see it. Slouch, incorrectly using your spine. It's no wonder were all in pain. Years of abuse adds up.
    Keep moving, and get using your body painway its supposed to be used.

    Look forward to hearing from you all if you are still around.

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