I've been dealing with a recurring bulging L5-S1 since 2008. I'm now 46. Controlled it pretty well with exercises and stretching. Also I'm an avid golfer which hasn't helped. I've had 5 major episodes since then where the disc has bulged in response to me bending forward improperly, golf etc.. Had MRI's which always show a left sided bulge pushing on the nerve. These episodes usually put me out of commission for 2 weeks and another month plus to get close to 100%. I sit a lot for my job and that has always been the thing that aggravates it the most. Even when I'm doing well, too much sitting will cause discomfort. Had my last true bulge episode over a year ago while trying to pull a sock on while bending forward and standing up. It rarely radiates any further than my hip. No real leg pain which is a good thing I realize.
Since then I've tolerated sitting much better than ever before. Played golf all last summer pain free. Then in September 2015, I had a sudden terrible nerve pain around the disc site while simply standing at work and doing nothing movement wise to bring it on. Unlike the previous episodes where the disc bulged and stayed on the nerve for days, this was very brief. Like something hit the nerve for a moment then subsided. Even with that, it laid me up for several days just getting rid of the soreness and stiffness. A prednisone pack pretty much knocked it. No where near as severe as the previous bulging episodes.
6 months later, and it did it again last week. Just a sudden hit on the nerve out of the blue with no movement precipitating it. Took a prednisone pack and is pretty much gone now. Waiting on an MRI and my Dr has suggested that the disc may have finally degenerated and dried out to the point that I'm no longer dealing with the bulge situation like before, and may instead have a fragment floating around as the disc is breaking up. That would explain why I can sit without pain now but also why I'm getting hit out of the blue like this when I'm not doing any movement to cause it.
My question is whether anyone else has experienced that type of progression over time as a disc degenerated and what was the eventual outcome? Was surgery eventually required? Did it stabilize and resolve itself? Any input would be greatly appreciated.