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How severe is a 6mm bulging disc at L5 S1?

Have lower back pain and sciatica from 6mm bulging disc showing in MRI. My primary doctor says 6mm is very minor and I should recover with only physical therapy so a referral to an orthopedic Dr isn't necessary at this point.

Was wondering anyone who recovered from a herniated disc or bulging disc, how far out was it protruding? For the amount of symptoms I'm getting I'm surprised that this is considered very minor...

Also, is 6mm bulging considered a herniation?
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Comments

  • You can take a ruler and see how small 6 mm is. A bulge is not the same as a herniation.
  • My disk was out by 20mm on my first MRI, and by surgery time months later it was worse. It was also an protrusion/extrusion and not a bulge.
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  • I had a 5mm bulge that cause me the same problems. I had back surgery nine months later. I'm in my 3rd week of recovery and I'm not sure that I would opt for surgery again if I had to do it all over agin.
  • Jack N said:
    I had a 5mm bulge that cause me the same problems. I had back surgery nine months later. I'm in my 3rd week of recovery and I'm not sure that I would opt for surgery again if I had to do it all over agin.
    Did you try an epidural first for the 5mm bulge?
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,249
    is not always that critical. What is more important is the Grade and Location/Zone of the herniation.

    The Grade ( 1 2 or 3) can almost be looked at as the size, since it is the distance this disc is pressing out towards the spinal nerve.

    The Location/Zone ( Central(A) , Lateral(B) or Far Lateral(C) ) will determine the overall impact of the disc herniation.

    All of this is combined to identify the MSU classification of the herniation. For example a Grade 1 herniation will probably have little impact, while a Grade 3 is really impinging on the nerve root.

    It all can get complicated. That is why its always best to ask your doctor about the severity of your herniation and what your options are.

    .
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
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  • baydude said:
    Jack N said:
    I had a 5mm bulge that cause me the same problems. I had back surgery nine months later. I'm in my 3rd week of recovery and I'm not sure that I would opt for surgery again if I had to do it all over agin.
    Did you try an epidural first for the 5mm bulge?
    Yes I had 2 epidurals in that period both with great short term success, one kept me pain free for about a month the second kept me pain free for only about 2 weeks. On my MRI my bulge was read as 5mm and my NS said it was probably the smallest bulge he would consider operating on. After the surgery he said it was much bigger than what expected from the MRI. I'm going to see him in 6 days so I will ask for some more detail.
  • Jack N said:
    baydude said:
    Jack N said:
    I had a 5mm bulge that cause me the same problems. I had back surgery nine months later. I'm in my 3rd week of recovery and I'm not sure that I would opt for surgery again if I had to do it all over agin.
    Did you try an epidural first for the 5mm bulge?
    Yes I had 2 epidurals in that period both with great short term success, one kept me pain free for about a month the second kept me pain free for only about 2 weeks. On my MRI my bulge was read as 5mm and my NS said it was probably the smallest bulge he would consider operating on. After the surgery he said it was much bigger than what expected from the MRI. I'm going to see him in 6 days so I will ask for some more detail.
    What type of surgery did you get?
  • I had a minimally invasive l5s1 microdisectomy.
  • You are only three weeks post op. Why would you not consider surgery again? It is still very early in the recovery of your spine, and while it is common for there to be an increase in nerve pain post op, and it can continue for some days and maybe weeks, it should subside in a bit of time.
  • My disk is 22mm.. still havent seen the doc though so im clueless to the next steps to be taken
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