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Lumbar Herniated Disc Natural Recovery Time Estimate

Hello All,

I have been reading through the forums a while now and finally got the guts to join and post about my condition. I'll post my question first so the backstory won’t drown out the question. I really appreciate anyone taking the time to read and post anything at all, so thank you in advanced and my apologies for the length.

Question:
So I currently have a lumbar herniated disk (3mm) around the L4/L5 region and a bulge around L4/L3. I have had it around 4-5 months and am wondering if anyone has any idea of an approx. healing, not using surgery, based on their own experiences or ones they have heard elsewhere for someone around my age?

I understand that the healing time varies from person to person and based on the severity of the herniation, however, my doctor's haven’t even hinted as to an approx. healing time and I have read online anywhere from 6 months to 2 years

Also, any advice for coping with the pain and exercises and stretches would be great. I would, eventually, like to start going to the gym again. I know I will never be able to go back to my routine 100%, however, I have been seditary for a few months now and it is starting to get to me.

Backstory:

I am 25 years old and was at least physically fit before this happened (did weight training/running 5k's/etc.). I have always been active and have always have had back pain. I did 10 years of competitive ballet and figure skating when I was really young (which I am sure just adds to this all).

I have felt a bit overwhelmed and secluded going through all of this desperately looking for help online for since doctor’s seem to brush it off a bit. No one else I know has ever dealt with herniated discs.

The pain started about 5 months ago. I thought it was a pulled muscle and so did my doctors so they just gave me pain medicine and told me to take it easy. At this point I didn't have sciatic or nerve problems, just discomfort. I stopped going to the gym in hopes that it would get better and it didn't. It actually got progressively worse. I started Physical Therapy about 2 months in and did that for about 1.5 months. By this point my foot was pins and needles all the time as well as numb. At this point I was forcing myself to work (I work with computers so 8 hour sitting job) and then just go home and rest on my couch from the pain. I could sit for maybe about 20 minutes before I would have to get up and walk around from discomfort. My doctor finally ordered an MRI which showed the bulge and herniation.

Depression really started to kick in at this point, as I had to stop all my social activities and became sedentary for about a month. I couldn't even clean my apartment. I went to many doctors, all of whom gave the same responses which was just dealing and coping with the pain and that I was fine and it would go away. I even saw a neurosurgeon who luckily did say I was not a candidate for surgery, however, that didn't help me feel any better with the pain.

I finally started to get a little relief about 2 weeks ago. I ended up getting traction therapy, which helped significantly. I am able to sit a bit longer at work, and drive a bit better as well as spend more time out with friends again. I still haven’t gone back to the gym, but continue to walk and do light core exercises. Am trying to still be hopefull that I can eventually return to a somewhat normal routine again.
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134

Comments

  • Thank you Sandi, I will take a look at these and consult my doctor again.
  • I'm trying to do the same. I'm going on week 2 of shooting pain down my right leg and into my foot. Also the front of my right calve goes numb and so does my foot. I have horrible pain deep in my right buttock. I'm a week into hanging on my inversion table 10-15 min a day I'm also stretching a good 45 min a day as well my hardest stretches are stretching my hamstrings that causes a lot of pain in my buttock. Things aren't getting better but it's not getting worse either I work 40 hours a week doing construction and my commute is 3-4 hours a day so I'm putting in 12 hour days. As long as I can keep providing I guess I'm good but the pain and pins and needles is starting to really get to me mentally a person can only handle so much and this has been 24-7 for 2 weeks now. I'm getting a MRI next week and I will go from there if this keeps up I will take my own leg off lol it's crazy how much trouble a stupid nerve can cause it's not like I tore all these muscles it's effecting it's just that stupid nerve creating all these issues.
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  • Sounds like you are at the state I was about a month ago.Yeah I would get the MRI, it sounds like it is possibly bulging or herniated. From what I have read online, if whatever you are doing hurts don't do it. So maybe take it easy on the stretching for a while. It may just be agrivating it especially if youa re curving your spine.

    Can you take a leave from work for a while? That may help if you have to travel that much to work.

    I hope it gets better for you, keep me updated. Im hoping mine keeps getting better over the next few months. I've decided to not return to a normal routine for a while. I feel its better to try and make sure it has healed than just randomly start up a routine and have it herniate again.
  • I guess I can take the time off its just the timming is never good. I'm a foreman so I'm in charge on my job site I'm wanting to get it finished or pretty close before taking sometime off. I'm kinda worried because I have a work van and I would think if things got to were I had to miss a substantial amount of time I would lose that van but the big picture is this is my health and what good am I to anybody with a bad back. My wife just got her BSN and now she is a month into being a ER nurse I was the sole provider for the last years whike she was going to school and now financially we are starting to take off . That's is also why I'm so hesitant to take time off I just can't believe this happened now.
  • Yeah and your health is important and the longer you wait the more time off you might have to take later on. I would do the MRI and establish a doctor that you can see about it. The MRI is the key though. You won't know how bad it is until you get one. The doctor may suggest that you only need a few days off to just give it some rest, and some heavy pain meds for when you have to go back to work.

    You may also want to try massage therapy. I hear it helps some people with the pain.
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  • I have a MRI scheduled for sometime this week I'm just waiting for the insurance to approve it.
    Last night was the first night in a week I didn't do my stretches or hang on the inversion table and today was a really good day. I didn't have the normal buzzing feeling going down my leg and my foot wasn't numb first thing. Of course these did come on around noon which by then I'm 7 hours into my day.
  • My story is similar to yours. Very much so OP. I wish you well. I wish everyone here could meet. I feel so alone sometimes with this. My story is on the board under foot drop recovery. A place where I safely put my true heart. A place I wish Facebook could be for me but there's too many normals and many of them are judgy. Here you are safe. There is information for you. There are friends here. Spiny Malone is free. Imagine 100 year ago (I watched Downton Abby twice while having spine surgery. I keep thinking about Mr. Bates. (the cane) I see everyone with a cane now. It's new for me. I'm 39 and I swear I'll get really mad if I get one of those gag canes for my 40th. People don't generally walk with a cane unless they need one and I'm no exception. I walk with this so I don't go mentally insane. I hate it. I hate how people say they think it looks cool.. Even when they are being kind. There is no way you'd say 10 pounds looks good on a larger person. So why the cane and grey hair mother nature? Why this? Because... Mere human. You need to appreciate everything. Because.. in that room next to you was a tumor they hoped they got all of. The next one was opened with over 100 stitches and is being fed with a straw. Spiny Malone knows she was given this spine. At least it's 2014... There's a long way to go on nerve recovery but there's hope.
  • You are not alone Spiny. Your words are doing so much here. My size 11 beautiful shoes & boots could hang out with yours! Your words are read & we feel such a connection brave lady!

    My Mums spiny friend can't play golf anymore. She does work at the golf club, busy work to keep her mind occupied. Her husband of 50 years is in end stage cancer. It's about waiting now. Her only child, beloved daughter has also been told there is little more to be done for her cancer. Her daughter said to her Dad "Were we wicked people Dad? Why is this happening to us?".
    Life can be so cruel sometimes. Treasure the moments. The day may come when we will be wishing for the 'good old days' of JUST spine pain...
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Greg1978GGreg1978 Posts: 28
    edited 09/18/2014 - 1:47 PM
    I'm doing way better there's still that constant buzzing running down my leg and it happens mostly when just walking. I'm working hard and I'm a construction worker so I'm on a ladder twisting and bending. I'm doing 15-20 min of stretching everynight I stopped the inversion table for now. Next week I'm going to start some core exercises maybe after next week I wil start hanging on it again. I have a MRI set up for next wed I got a call from my insurance company today approving it. I think I have crappy insurance this makes my third MRI and in the past I never got a call telling me were I had to go they just approved it and I went were ever my doc sent the request to.
  • I am sorry to hear Spiny_Malone, and yes this does seem like a safe place to talk and where people will understand. I think it is harder for those who haven't been through the same kind of experience to understand what it is like. But luckily this forum is here for lots of support from people. Feel free to talk anytime especially if you are having a hard day!

    But yes we still should be lucky for what we have

    And that's good Greg, I hope the MRI helps, at least giving you a starting point as to where to go next. If the leg is still bothering you, try going to a pain management clinic. They maybe can help.
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