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l5/s1 disc hernia

Hi, im a 18 year old male and i just recently found out i have a disc herniation in the L5/S1 discs. it is causing leg pain as well and i have roughly had it for 6 months. it most likely occured while i was playing basketball at that time. i was wondering what the best course of action for this problem would be. one of my major concerns is my physical ability to play sports( basketball) and lift weights. I am now considering to either go through with a cortisone injection in my back or go through extensive physical therapy with deep tissue massages, acupuncture, and etc. I know the injections are usually temporary and that physical therapy is a longshot because ive had this for so long. i would just like to hear about others experiences with this porblem and i know that the last restore would be surgery which i would like to avoid if possible. and also would like to know that if this problem will limit me in the long run from playing basketball or any other physical abilities.


  • I'm a 16 year old female with exactly the same problem. I herniated both my L4-L5 and L5-S1 disks in gymnastics. The L5-S1 disk is pushing on my sciatic nerve. I have been dealing with the pain emotionally and physically for about 4 months now. My chiropractor made the problem worse because of the stretches he had me doing before we knew that the disks were herniated. I was then referred to a physical therapist. I would suggest physical therapy to you. Although we just found out today that the disks are herniated, my PT has been working on me for a while and it has helped to calm down the sciatic nerve even with the herniation. We do ultrasonic muscle stimulation and deep tissue massage. Now that we know what is wrong, we will be treating it long-term in hopes of getting the disks back to normal. (as close to normal as possible, at least) I understand your pain as far as not being able to do sports, that's for sure! I don't know that I'll ever do gymnastics again, and with cross country coming up I'm hoping to get better soon, but its an extensive process. Track this year was the worst, though. I most likely would have made it to state in the High Jump and long jump. Unfortunately I'll be lucky in I can ever High Jump again, because the mechanics it takes is what pushed the disk over the edge.
    Well, I know that every athlete is different, but for me icing and walking help. My sports medicine MD has me walking backwards and to each side to get my muscles working properly again, and he also has me laying on my stomach and pushing up with my hands in a "cobra stretch" to help get things moving and to allow my body to reabsorb the herniation so it no longer presses on the sciatic nerve. Also, he said absolutely no lifting or bending over. When you are sitting it is really important to have good posture, too.
    As a young person, I would not suggest surgery except as a very last resort. As my mom always says, "the original equipment is always better."
    ~Best of luck~
  • I did my L5S1disc herniation 4 months ago, such severe leg pain in left leg I had a nerve block done , which took about 2 weeks to really take the pain away, went to physio weekly, nothing has really helped to take the numbness out off my foot and leg, after 3 months the pain came back, and I had another nerve block done, it has been 3 weeks, just starting to be on my feet again for any length of time. Although i cannot sit really at all. I am really trying to avoid surgery, but it has gone on so long. I will be going to a new physio next week and starting a warm water aerobics class for backs.
    I am 50 years , I really feel for you guys being 18 and 16 yrs for something like this to happen when you have your whole life ahead of you. I do believe that time will heal, but how long can we all cope with that.
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  • I just had L5-S1 fused 6 weeks ago. ( the 2 levels above that are fused). I dealt with sciatica pain, numbness down the leg, etc. I did many injections and exercises. All of which lead up to the fusion. My surgeon warned me that letting the nerves go on that long can lead to irreversable damage. I just could not take the pain any longer and had the surgery which immediately stopped the nerve pain down the leg. I am fused now at 3 levels and once this level heals/fuses there will be some restrictions. I dont think you would be restricted from basketball. Football, hockey I would think yes due to the hard impact contact on the entire body. You need to find a great surgeon that can answer all your questions and guide you in the right direction. Maybe you can get some injections to calm the nerve down a little during basketball season and then have the surgery needed during off season.

    Best of luck to you! If you have any questions, please just ask! I have been through it all.

    DDD 2 level ALIF L3-L5 in 2007. 4/11/13 posterior fusion w/decompression on L5-S1.
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