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Degenerative Disc Disease - 25 year old

Good Evening-

Approximately 3 years ago I started with Sciatic Pain.... down my left leg but it was manageable. I saw the chiropractor who told me my L5 disc was slipped and it was definitely sciatica. Well, I kind of dealt with the pain but noticed the pain intensifying (after a rear end car accident in 2010) and then over the last 4 months I have been noticing the pain getting progressively worse and numbness going down my leg. I recently saw an Orthopaedic Surgeon on 10/2/12. He did an X-ray and sent me for an MRI. He put me on Medrol, Tramadol and Meloxicam. I stared physical therapy and got the MRI on 10/12/12. Today I went to get the results- the report shows a large left posterior paracentral disc herniation projecting into the left lateral recess and left foramen, encroaching upon passing left S1 nerve root and exiting left L5 nerve root. Additionally, a high-grade left lateral recess intermediate to high grade left foraminal. Further, L5-S1 level degenerative diseases, spondylolisthesis left-sided spondylolysis with left lateral disc herniation causing left lateral recess and left forminal encroachment. The surgeon placed me on Hydrocodone instead of Tramadol and told me to continue to Meloxicam, and physical therapy as well as get an epidural steroid injection treatment plan. Then, surgery is almost necessary if all doesn't work.

I am only 25 years old and he said "you have significant back problems for someone your age"- has anyone else had a similar problem? Any advice as I go into this treatment?

Olivia Douglass
Olivia Douglass
MIS TLIF L5/S1 on 5/1/13


  • I am sorry to hear about your pain.

    You may wish to read my history on my profile (rather than repeat here).

    Unfortunately, unless you can get your nerve de-compressed via conventional methods (such as what is recommended on this site and recommendations such as given to me by my consultants, weight loss, advise in books, get a good physiatrist, what has been recommended in past by other members based on their experience, etc), you may end up with surgery and a long recovery period. Hmm, I know this sounds grim and extreme, but if you read up on what people have said in this forum, you will understand potentially what may occur and does occur to many people. Knowledge is power. Educate yourself, take control.
  • natannnnatann Posts: 66
    edited 10/17/2012 - 2:47 PM
    I was your age when I had my first surgery. What has helped the most over the years was physical therapy, traction, and Pilates. You might have to have surgery, but doing therapy is the most important part
    When I was doing my pt& Pilates I had a good 4 years with DDD without having any major episodes of pain and rarely had to take any med's.
    Note Please keep in mind that what works for one person may be harmful to another person. Never to anyone's suggestion in terms of treatments and/or exercises without first discussing it with your doctors and getting their approval. This is VERY IMPORTANT

    Spine-Health Moderator Team
    99/00 L4/5 & L5/S1 herniation
    2001 L5/S1 microdisectomy age 25
    severe DDD at surgery level
    2011 pars
    2012 RFA L/3/4/5
    7-02-13 L4/5 l5/S1 360 fusion ALIF PLIF
    DX spondylitis , DDD, scoliosis, and slight kyphosis
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  • Good Morning!

    Thank you both for your response! The pain is almost debilitating at times and I am continuing physical therapy but they are being very cautious as there is extreme damage. The thing that gets me the most is the numbness and shooting pain that happens at random times. I go on 11/1 to see a physiatrist for a consultation to determine if I am a candidate for epidural steroid injections (although with the recent spinal meningitis outbreaks I am very nervous). I am also continuing the meloxicam in hopes that my pain may be relieved.

    I will browse through the forums to see what others have experienced. As for possible surgery I assume that it would consist of a spinal fusion? Not just a laminectomy?

    Olivia Douglass
    MIS TLIF L5/S1 on 5/1/13
  • Hi Olivia.
    What surgery would be offered would depend on what the doctor perceives is the root cause and surgical familiarity / expertise. Insurance considerations. Potentially quite a few things. Much of this is discussed in the website articles. You may wish also to read up on artificial disc too. Fusion reduces mobility and puts more stress on adjacent disc/s.
    In the meantime, your pain level sounds bad. Can you discuss / update your surgeon with your current pain rating and ask how he/she approaches managing pain?
  • Thanks again for your response. My pain level is more manageable than the numbness that I experience down my left leg. I am going to the pain management doctor on 11/1 for the consultation and then will follow up with the surgeon if the steroid injections don't work. I would rather not get surgery but at this point in the condition it is all so frustrating and I just want it to be better. I guess we shall see.
    Olivia Douglass
    MIS TLIF L5/S1 on 5/1/13
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  • Is indicative of nerve damage. The concern is that it may lead to permanent nerve injury.

    Your surgeon / PM can order a EMG study to quantify the nerve and muscle impacts.

    Muscle motor function can be affected; resulting muscle weakness, atrophy and permanent stretching of muscle.

    One may have to weigh up the relative risks of potential nerve damage from surgery vs potential damage of ongoing nerve compression. This is a discussion you should have with your surgeon/s. Get more than one surgical opinion.

    Hopefully the nerve root block injections will reduce swelling and nerve compression.
  • odouglassoodouglass Posts: 264
    edited 10/25/2012 - 7:59 AM
    I have been taking my Meloxicam on a regular basis and do notice a decrease in pain traveling down my leg, but the numbness is still present all the way down my leg and is rather annoying and catches me off guard. I was wondering about nerve damage, since it has been going on for so long. I am currently going to physical therapy (which I begin to question the necessity) and I am unable to do much with my left leg (cannot straighten it when laying down, etc). I feel like I have a lot of unanswered questions- but then again the doctors are trying all that they know to see what works. I just wonder if the physical therapy is actually doing any good for me?!
    Olivia Douglass
    MIS TLIF L5/S1 on 5/1/13
  • Other than the spondy your MRI sounds alot like mine and so do your symptoms & progression. In my opinion, you should not worry about the shots too much. If people are still getting bad medicine there is gonna be some big-time lawsuits out there. I also have followed your treatment pretty closely. Mine was chiro then ESIs and finally a microdiscectomy in sept. Recovery is slow and frustrating 7 weeks post-op. But even with bumps in the road I am wayyyy better now than before surgery. I do feel as if I treated the disc past the point of it getting better, but do not regret trying everything I could pre-surgery. Also my insurance would not approve surgery without seeing a non-surgical roadmap.

    I have alot of posts on the subject, look to those for further details if you like. Ths website & forum is a great place to research!

    Good Luck!
    L5S1 REMOVED herniation. Years of pain & compression. Microdiscectomy complete!! Trying to be super smart & safe with recovery!
  • I'm 31 and I'm having the same issues now. I was having the shap leg pain going thru my thighs. They would go and come. But now since I was going to physical therapy for my cervical surgery it have put more pressure on the lower part. Now my low back pain, buttocks pain and leg pain has gotten worry. I just had cervical spine surgery 3 mths ago. Still haven't recover from that. I went to the doctor 10/17/12 and now they talking about lumbar spinal surgery. I'm scared for the injections because some people was dying over of them, because some had fungi in it. I feel like into you g for all of this. My uncle told me right after I got my first surgery, once they cut on you, you would need another. Three months later he was right.
  • I seriously feel your pain, I am only 21 years old, and have had now over a years worth of PT, chiropractic care, aqua therapy, TENS units, and all conventional methods, I recently just recieved my first Facet Joint injections, I have 5 herniations, plus DDD, and Schuerermanns, and Mild Scoliosis, but the injections honestly think it made my pain worse, and my next step is surgery as well.. Best of luck, I feel you.
    Anna Renner
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