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L5/S1 pain

Hello everyone, just wondering if you have any ideas for pain relief? I currently have no insurance but saw a friend of a friend who is a PM doctor. L5/S1 was definitely his diagnosis. From buttock stabbing pain on right side,to killer lower back pain when sneezing or coughing,I can't take much more. I did a round of steroids from my friend(medrol) with little luck. I really need advice on easing pain while getting in and out of car. I can't take time off work and am really scared for my daughter if I get too much worse. I'm afraid I may not be able to work. My friend who does PM suggested an MRI if medrol didn't help but I'm also looking for some quick relief from this pain. Any advice is appreciated.


  • I was just diagnosed with herniated discs L4/L5 and L5/S1 and the neurologist that saw me last week has turned me over to the spine doctor in the same clinic and I meet with him today. This started a couple of months ago with hip pain which became leg pain and foot numbness/pins/needles. I took 40mg of prednisone a day for 5 days before my MRI with no help. I was prescribed 10mg Norco and instructed to take 1-2 tablets every 4-6 hours as needed. The past 7 days the pain has been so bad in the morning that I actually cry or scream. I have pretty much given up on driving the past week it's just too painful. I was given a back brace after my first neurologist visit that helps some what. "Ossur Miami Lumbar". I'll be happy to post again after I visit with him today. I certainly feel for you. I don't know what I'll do if I have to drive any time soon.
  • First, I am no doctor and therefore don't pretend to have all of the answers. Having said that, I suffered with my L5,S1 pain for only a few months before I realized that I wanted some real help NOW. I went to my ortho doctor and had an MRI, which revealed a herniated L5,S1 disc. He gave me an epidural, which lasted about 3 months before the pain returned. I opted to have it repaired vis surgery and all went well. Then, me like an idiot, decided 15 days after surgery to wax my car, which caused the disc to rupture. This stupid act caused me to have emergency surgery. Today, I am 75% better. Maybe you should consider having a epidural.
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  • RTgirl2011RRTgirl2011 Posts: 511
    edited 08/10/2012 - 7:29 PM
    I would try an epidural steroid injection. I had one and the procedure isn't to bad. Honestly, it did hurt a little but nothing to major. It took it a day or two work completely and it can last for several months. Mine only lasted about three weeks because i had a huge herniated disc that was wrapped around some nerves. I just want to offer another opinion. I hope everything works out for you and you don't continue to suffer.

    Discectomies 05/08 and 04/11, fusions L4-5 Feb 9,2012 and L3-L4 June 28,2012, Staph infection washout 3/2/2012, Bulged L5-S1. SCS trial on January 17th, 2014, which was a success! Permanent SCS on February 20th.
  • I have read several articles and it's clear everyone hear has had pain/surgery/recovery and not necessarily in that order. I recently had a discectomy and immediately had no relief and possibly more pain. It's been a few weeks and I still have a lot of pain in my right leg and buttocks. I have had pain on my right side for the past 2 - 3 years. I just left the doctors office and it looks like I need to have a micro discectomy now. My question or concern is that right after the surgery a nurse was talking to me and mentioned that I had surgery on the left side? I was marked on the right side and all of my pain has always been on that side. One of the doctors assistants kind of said "well it's really not the left or right" and moved on. Should I be concerned or just move on with the micro discectomy and hope for the best.
    anthony purich
  • Hi There. I had 360 fusion at L5/S1. I agree that an ESI is worth a try - it's also done using Depomedrol and a local, but the placement is different. You could also talk to your doctor friend about a caudal block which has the potential for relief from your coccyx up to L5/S1 or higher. II'm discussing it with my PM next week). You may also want to ask about NSAIDs. Have you tried any ultrasound, TENS or anything like that? They may help. I know that, in my case, any kind of manipulative physio/chiro including IMT just made things worse. One of the hot new meds here in Canada at least, is Nucynta. There are 2 types - apparently the ER (extended release) works best. So far it hasn't worked for me, but neither did Tramadol, which is the base medicinal component. Definately ask your PM his/her thoughts.

    Practical things to try are ice packs on for 15 mins, off for 30 mins. And heat, same pattern. Make sure you sleep with a pillow under your knees (not your thighs) when lying on your back, and between your legs when lying on your side. When sitting in a chair, use a foot stool so that your knees are at a 90 degree angle.

    There are some interesting posts about anti-imflammatory diets in the Treatment Forum. I don't know if eating certain 'anti-inflammatory' foods helps, but I suppose it can't hurt. Check out the posts, they talk about using things like Tumeric, and fresh ginger on your food.

    As for driving, there isn't anything that I ever found helps me in terms of getting in/out, nor being stuck in the 'driver's position' for any long period of time. I always use a pillow to cushion my back and bum. Use my hot seat. I drive an SUV, so I use a stool to climb in and out of the car.

    Good luck. I feel for you. Keep me posted on your progress.
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  • Carol TCCarol T Posts: 4
    edited 09/03/2012 - 6:46 PM
    Marni -- I've had the same problems you've described since June 2012. I did end up having a steroid epidural and I think it helped somewhat. I no longer have the sudden excrutiating spasms down my left leg. I still get the tingling, occastional pain when I sit too long or move the wrong way. I'm still taking naproxin (500 mg) almost every day. I do exercises and physical therapy. Also do ice and/or heat when it bothers me a lot. I try to get up from my desk at work more often but that and the driving aggravate the symptoms the most. I try to walk almost every day. I've also been swimming a lot this summer and plan to take an aqua aerobics class. About once a week or so I get accupuncture. I also bought a kneeling chair so I don't put as much pressure on the L5-S1 joints.

    I think all the above has helped. However -- you don't have insurance and many of the above are expensive. The epidural is most expensive and may not provide that much relieve - the doctor will tell you there's no guarantee.

    Regarding cheaper ways to get relief fast --
    1) take aleve (it's the same as naproxin), take with food if you have a sensitive stomach. The prescritpion I have is 500 MG for 12 hrs but you can get the same amount with a dose of over-the-counter Aleve.
    2) learn to move your body as a unit. Once the PT showed me this, it helped tremendously. This means when you get in or out of the car, keep both legs together and swing them around. Same when getting out of bed--draw up the knees then flop them to the side, keeping them together, toward the edge of the bed. Push yourself up to sitting by hand or elbow, trying to keep thighs, hips, and waist in alignment. Bring feet to hang over the edge, knees still together, .

    My experience is the more things you can do to keep the pain down the better you'll be able to function.
    If you can, get an MRI so at least you know what's really going on....
    Hope that helps!
  • Carol TCCarol T Posts: 4
    edited 09/03/2012 - 6:54 PM
    Other things I forgot to mention:
    Do extension stretches -- like small cobras from yoga -- You lay on stomach (pillow under stomach) prop yourself up on your elbows, draw in lower ab muscle, hold it 10 seconds then lower.
    -The physical therapists and many of the self-help info on the web will tell you to strengthen the core. This doesn't necessarily mean crunches. I was told to lay on stomach and kick legs backward, keeping hips on floor and abs tight.
    -Also for the car, I bought a wedge shaped cushion at Bed Bath & Beyond for $19 bucks. It has a cut-out where your tailbone goes so there's some pressure relief. Hope that helps!
  • This is a good thread to read, packed with so many advices.

    Thank you for posting your valuable information.
  • I had micro of my L5 S1 4 months ago, while I still have many issues I can LIVE with them now as compared to before the surgery. I could do NOTHING. It can really work!
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