To sum things up; Im 27. 5 years ago I herniated the disc below L4. About a month out of work, PT, and it slowly went away. I was only in any real pain for about a week. Fast forward. About 2 months ago I moved out of my old in house into a new one, alone, so yeah I ended up squshing that pesky disc again which I had completely forgotten all about over the few years prior. This time around the pain came in real slow over the course of about a month, and seemed to stay at a high level. Textbook sciatica; changes in position, walking, sitting, standing, sneezing, it all made me squeeze my fist in agony. I saw a orthopedic specialist who ordered an MRI and gave me some drugs and steroids. MRI looks the same as the one from 5 years ago, to me at least. Same old story, got laid off, sitting at home, pain blah blah blah. Reccomended me to a spinal surgeon, who seemed pretty happy to reccomend a microdiscectomy. I go back to see him again next week(last visit was about a month ago) and decide what to do.
Here's where things get interesting. Two weeks ago I ended up taking a plane out to Colorado, from New Jersey. I'm really into old trucks and do restorations on them, and saw one out there I wanted to buy. Long story short, I flew out, bought it, drove it home to NJ. On the flight in, pain was still about the same, i.e. had to take about 10 seconds after standing or sitting to regain composure, had to think really hard about picking things up off the floor, etc. I got off the plane, got to a hotel, went to sleep feeling a little under the weather, due to the altitude change.
I woke up the next day, and the pain was about 70% gone. Months of excruciating pain, gone almost over night. The following day it pretty much vanished. I was astounded. After staying there 2.5 days I got the truck and drove it back. Not a single ounce of pain, even from sitting in a drivers seat for 2000 miles straight(sitting always intensified pain prior). I enjoyed the week after returning home completely pain free. About 12 days after returning however, the pain is back, just as bad if not a little worse than before. It came on pretty quick, ramping up to its current level over the course of about 4 days.
Here is what I need to know.
Pain killers, steroids, nothing really put a dent in the pain before. I travel to a higher altitude(8000'-10000') and it vanishes quickly, and returns 1.5 weeks after I do to sea level.
I really doubt that this is any kind of coincidence. I really think the lower atmospheric pressure had something to do with it, sort of like decompression sickness, except the other way around; whereas nitrogen and other gases that are dissolved in bodily fluids, organs, lipids and tissues, effectively disperse from solution into the bloodstream and are released through the lungs(Boyles Law). I would imagine a Hyperbaric chamber would produce similar effects, if ran at lower pressures than normal relative to a patients environment.