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L5/S1 injury,Sciatic Pain, Whether to have surgery or continue with medicines and exercises


I had a fall two years ago that resulted in disk herniation at L5/S1. The pain after almost around a year subsided and i thought its gone but then again started again. I have pain in my calves and feet and sometime in hips as well.

I have been to neurosurgeons, some suggested surgery and others were like you dont need surgery at all. As per the ones that didn't advise surgery, exercise was my way to recovery. With the anti inflammatory medicine and some multi vitamins i continued my life with a change in job, then leaving that job due to its requirement of physical work and now to almost jobless situation. The thing is after two years i feel i am at crossroads to have surgery or not. Doctors are conflicting in their own way and i don't blame them as each one has and can have their own opinion. But the thing is my healing, my recovery. I am almost 30, just when i was about to have a good promotion, start earning good money, get married, help my parents/family/people around me, be a part of their solutions to problems, contribute to society, excel in basketball; there came sciatica and it grounded me( I believe each one dealing with spine injuries has their own background).

The anti inflammtory medicines after some time started to have a reverse effect on my stomach so i stopped them. Despite the pain in legs and feet, i don't want my stomach to go wrong way. In past 4-5 months i have avoided them at all and am only taking multi vitamins(is it good or bad to leave anti inflammatory medicines, do they help in disc healing or only reduces the pain ).

A friend of mine had a surgery and he is doing good now. Reading posts here I see every one had different outcome, some went great and other had negative effects of surgery. An acquaintance of my uncle who is an orthopedic surgeon is completely against cutting the disk surgeries :). Its a confusion, the prospects of having a pain free life directs me for surgery and then looking at some people experiences it feels its better to be in current state and wait for healing rather than an unsuccessful surgery. Larry Bird had a bad back but he continued playing with, he had a surgery as well but still looking at his videos playing with back pain inspires me to wait for the natural healing But sometimes in those painful moments you feel its better to have surgery.

I am doing stretching ,strengthening back and core muscles exercises but im not so sure if they are helping at all. Just for reference I have attached my spine MRI just to get a comparison from other members how do it compares to their scans. Does this herniation asks for a surgey. This MRI was done two years.

It would be great to have comments from other members how did they decide to have surgery or not, the reasons they weighed for or against to decide a surgery.



PS: This is a universal forum with tons of reading for folks with spine problems. Kudos to administrator for running it. Secondly, English is not m y first language so please don't mind if i have written something that doesn't clear up the situation.



  • It's been a couple of years since this post. I actually have an almost identical story to this and an MRI that is very close to this one with a L5/S1 protrusion of 9.2 mm. I ended up going through the American healthcare system starting with pills, chiropractic, physical therapy, osteopathic, pain management, 3 different physicians, finally got an MRI and was recommended for surgery. I was willing to do anything to avoid surgery and I even went to Bosnia where I'm from to seek alternative treatment. That has actually helped the most and I have an adverse effect on my digestion so I stopped taking any medication. I feel like my trend has reversed and is getting better. I was wondering what your status is with this injury? I wish I can post my MRI image because it almost looks identical to yours except maybe a larger rupture. I wish I could play basketball and ride my bicycle again some day but I feel like those activities attributed to this injury as well as my car which I realize I need something bigger in order to maintain better posture. 
  • LizLiz Posts: 8,835
    edited 02/17/2017 - 2:12 AM
    Hello hasudin
    Thunderstruck has not been back to the forum since creating this discussion so I am closing it.

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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
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