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L5/S1 Moderate disc protrusion

Hey Everyone,

I'll put a bit of my background here first before I ask my questions.

24 Year old Female, 5'8" 159 Llbs. Apart from L5/S1 "moderately large" central disc protrusion, I am very healthy.

December 2007--Hit by car while crossing the road. Broken clavicle, no other injuries
April 2008-- Sudden terrible low back pain, Go to PT for 1.5 months, everything is great!
August 2011--Throw out back turning the wrong way while sitting, get better within a week.
January 2012--Throw out back from sneezing, get better within a week.
March 2012--Start to notice sudden lower back pain at dinner, gets worse througout the night. For the next month in a lot of pain with limited movement. See a doc who prescribes muscle relaxers and anti inflammitories.
May 2012-- Although not in as much pain, still in pain--go to chiropractor, this helps signifigantly
July 2012- Having sex with boyfriend, when he suddenly pushes my legs too far back, and I feel lower back go. At first its excruciating to moving from sitting to standing, slow walking range, can't bend over etc. Go to PT, and get much better, still have some aches, but generally doing well.
August 2012-- some very mild burning pain in calf, go to doctor, get an MRI and get the result that I have a moderately large central disc protrusion at L5/S1, with some mild degeneration between the vertebrae.

I've seen a orthopedic surgeon's PA, and he didn't seem too concerned. Even though I have mild sciatica, I guess I passed all the nerve tests. Of course, after that, the pain gets worse. I can stand/ walk forever, but I can't sit for more than an hour without feeling pain in my tailbone. I also can't seem to get comfortable lieing down, and usually wake up at least once per night.


1. My pain predominantly is in my lower backs, the muscles in my glutes, and sort of up in the butt crack tailbone area. What I feel is crazy is that its a burning, inflammed pain. I think the reason why standing is more comfortable than sitting or lieing down is because nothing is touching the area, (for example, lieing on my stomach feels best) Has anyone else expereinced this burning inflammed pain? This is not like my prior back pain. Is this the sign of an infection? :/

2. Is this something that happened from having sex w/ my boyfriend? Or maybe got accelerated from the accident? Should I not be having sex in the meantime?

3. I read that 80-90% of patients don't need surgery, but when I look online, it seems thats what everyone gets? I don't know if its even an option for me, since currently, my disc is protruding (hasn't leaked out). It seems like surgery is something that is just inevitable with this....Does anyone know of someone who has conquered a herniated disc? How? My Doc said sometimes they get "re-absorbed"....

4. How often does one get an MRI for this? I'm nervous, because what if things get worse? or change from my last MRI? I didn't know if there was anything standard for this.

5. Treatment Advice. Its hard for me to work right now, thats most painful (especially cuz my right butt cheek ends up feeling like its ON FIRE after sitting for so long--fortunately, I am not feeling so much in my calf anymore, even though it was super mild. Thats supposed to be a good sign). I know definitely, from reading here, and talking to a few people who have endured this.....that it could be a lot worse. I'm grateful than I can walk, move around, and generally live my life, albeit with some pain. I am very scared of becoming invalid, addicted to pain killers and so on. I'm even avoiding ibuprofen right now, cuz I have been taking it somewhat regularly since March. I wish there was a way to treat the root cause of this rather than it being a pain management issue. And its so hard, because different docs tell me different things (One doc says no bending, my PT says bending is good---WHAT?!).

Sorry, if that is a big ramble. I'm only 24, so this is heavy on my mind. I have dreams of having children, carrying them, hiking, and being active, and that feels far away right now :(

Any stories, experience, expertise, would be appreciated. And if you are in central Texas and have had good doc experiences, please recommend!!!


  • KarenDKKarenD Posts: 742
    edited 08/15/2012 - 3:20 PM
    I don't remember seeing your posts before, but I've found this site very helpful, so look around in different areas to see what's out there. You are young and because you have been pretty healthy you might not be as used to dealing with doctors, etc. This is a good place to find info on what to ask when you go to a Dr. about your spine issues. You could follow up to get more information about where your pain could be coming from. I'll try to give my perspective on your issues.

    1) I have had burning pain. Mine is mostly down my leg and I've had it down my arms. I understand mine has come from nerve inflammation. Inflammation doesn't mean infection. I've had back problems on and off since my late 20s, and not considered surgical until the last couple years in my early 50s. PT can help if you can keep working on keeping yourself strong. When I started using pain management for shots it helped for long periods of time initially, which helped for a number of years, so don't think it's just pills.

    2) Nobody knows if something you did during sex contributed to your pain. If you haven't talked with your boyfriend about your concerns it would be good if you could talk to him about it. Don't give up on sex, but maybe tune some things back a little.

    3) I haven't had a disc leak. Herniations are an issue especially if they are pressing on the spinal chord or nerve. I think it takes a chronic issue or a major issue to have people attracted to this site and to keep following it. That mean people on this site would tend to be people with more major issues and not the 80-90% who don't require surgery or who can find enough relief to deal day to day with the issue or whose issues have resolved.

    4) PT and pain management and coordinating with your primary care could help, with continuing attention to especially keeping your core strong. Bending might not be good in an acute state, but a PT can work with you to bend correctly.

    I hope some of this might help. I have a daughter almost your age and she's been having back issues for a number of years now. It's tough to see in people so young.

    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • BrokebackBobBBrokebackBob Posts: 26
    edited 08/23/2012 - 12:25 PM
    You have your thoughts in the right place. I would not be afraid of more tests like MRI or EMG. They can reveal much about your condition. I fought off LB surgery for a long time but I was not childbearing and I made major lifestyle changes to avoid sciatic attacks. I also had a bad knee and problems with neck. In 2004 I jumped off the back of a pickup into the soft beach sand and triggered my first real bad sciatic attack. On my back for a month,out of work for 4 months and lost 40 lbs and started heavy PT program. I had 5 or 6 attacks since then with severe DDD. Cymbalta helps with stiffness of DDD but not sharp sciatic pain. I am 60 and have fusion scheduled for Sept 25 on L5 S1. because pinched nerve is causing atrophy in left calf. I have no muscle tone and cant do one toe raise!! I have started to limp. Surgery is to stop atrophy pain also. ACFD 3-4-5 July 2011 discectomy and fusion Sept 25 2012. I am not going to limp thru life I need to take the chance I have alot to gain but I could lose alot more if I dont.
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  • archthegreekaarchthegreek Posts: 1
    edited 12/30/2015 - 8:21 PM
    Hi- I have the same exact symptoms as visionblue. I've been going to pt, had cortisone shots, and been prescribed pkillers. Have been getting better with pt, but feel that I've hit a wall. have the same exact symptoms as you and most pain when I sit down for long periods of time (escpecially car rides). Been getting much better though. Was curios if your pain went away now (2 years later) or you had to get surgery. seems like my doc's are trying to push surgery but really don't want to do it and was wondering if time will heel. Please advise if your pains now (2 years later) went away through pt or something else or you had to get surgery. Your response will be greatly appreciated.

    This is a old thread, the original poster has not been on the forum for more than 3 years

    I suggest you Creating a new thread
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    Liz -Spine-health Moderator
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