I am a 27 year old, formerly active, male who has been enduring 2 years of problems due to having slipped three discs in the lower back. Having had 2 operations (one an emergency), much medication, physiotherapy, other treatment and self-treatment (swimming, walking, etc.), I am still in agony from head (headaches) to sciatic pain (to ankles). I saw a neuro-surgeon about 3 weeks ago who has told me that there's literally nothing more they can do. I am at my wits end and simply don't know what else to do. I was wondering if someone could provide me with some ideas or suggestions on further treatment or spinal care? Here is a bit more in depth narrative:
About 5 years ago, I started getting some minor sciatic pain in my left leg, although it was not bad at all and was periodic. I was working about 80 hours a week in a warehouse at the time loading and unloading lorries. I consulted with my parents (doctor, nurse, believe it or not) who said it was nothing. I therefore didn't do much more about it. I then worked in construction for a while, before winging my way into an office job about 3.5 years ago. As I moved up the ladder, the positions because increasingly stressful.
During Christmas 2012, I picked up a bag (not heavy, nor light) and I felt a deep, burning sensation spread out from my lower back. I couldn't get it checked out for a while - in fact, until March 2013. I had an MRI which confirmed I had two slipped discs (L4-5 and L5-S1). According to the diagnosis, the L4-5 disc was more herniated than the L5-S1, but it was the latter that was causing the problem. After undertaking various sessions of physiotherapy, coritzone injected into the spine, taking medication, swimming, etc., with no improvement of my condition (only worsening to the point of hardly being able to walk or lead any semblance of a normal life), it was decided to operate in October 2013. The operation removed the protruding part of the disc.
Immediately after the operation, and thereafter, I felt no difference other than a slight improvement in mobility. However, upon returning to work after 6 weeks recovery, I was again back as I had been pre-operation within a week. Again I continued the treatment, and tried to grin and bear it; but in February 2014, I stood up from a chair and I felt the same burning sensation that I'd previously had. Afterwards, I couldn't walk, even from the bed to the bathroom (about 3 metres). After 4 days laying in bed, I had to call an ambulance. I was again operated on, this time they removed the soft tissue from within the disc at the L5-S1 level.
After this operation, there was some significant improvement, although after the 6 weeks recovery period, I requested more time to fully recover from the neurosurgeon, but he refused (an error I feel). Again after a week of returning to full time work (I had worked one week at about 20 hours a week), I was in agony again.
By April 2014, I had lost my job. I decided I would apply to do a month long, teaching qualification as I felt this would give me a job with more physical dynamism, which would be better for at least the time being for someone in my situation. I was then using the 2 month intermittent period to focus a lot on rebuilding muscles in my back by swimming, walking and not leading a sedentary lifestyle.
In June 2014, I woke up one morning and I could not longer walk again. I couldn't do the course. I had an MRI again, which showed that I have 3 slipped discs (new addition of L3-L4), although the L5-S1 was obviously shown to have been removed. I again took more medication, which didn't alleviate the pain. During all of this, I have not had a single drug that has actually reduced the pain (including 200mg of tramadol). During this period, the pain has now spread to my neck, shoulders and constant headaches. I have mostly spent the time laying in bed (no other choice), and gradually increasing where possible walking. I also had physiotherapy, which seems to have been useful. However, I've had to stop this as I ran out of money and needed to return to my family. I now have to wait 3 months for new sessions.
The neuro-surgeon then told me there's nothing more that he can do. Hence, I am absolutely at my wits end. I cannot believe that there's no other solution here? I've felt that most of the medical professionals I've seen have not taken me serious here. I am now in an awful lot of fear of returning to any form of employment as sitting down is the worst, and lifting (as required by many jobs) is clearly out of the question. I'd be so grateful for any ideas and assistance here.