Hi all. I am 41 years old, in good shape, but have a herniated disk between L4/L5 with sciatica. My ortho put me on mobic, PT, and pain meds, and I have had epidurals (please, no lectures). My question is this-
I have been doing this for 5 months, and althoough I feel a little better, I am far from healed. Who out there has had success without surgery? All I seem to see here are people with fusions, laminectomies, etc. I am very apprehensive about surgery, and want to avoid it. But I don't want to wait too long, and risk too much nerve damage, etc. How long should I wait before calling my friendly neurosurgeon?
This is really aggravating, so any input would be helpful.
Yes I have one! Unfortunately it's not mine but I'm hoping. My cousin has pretty much fully recovered from a L5-S1 herniation. Her ortho was reluctant to resort to surgery or epidurals. It took 8 months before she got back to work but she is fine now, provided she keeps up her walking and exercise programme. She was left with some numbness in her foot but she says it serves as a good reminder of what is a condition for life.
I have a similar problem, combined with DDD and an annular tear. I've just had my third epidural (fully informed and having read the Burton report) and was thankful that I did. I've been off work for the last five months. My ortho is not advocating surgery as the odds of more damage are too high.
From the reading I've done and having spoken to a number of professionals, surgery can be the short term answer but not always the long term one. Time, patience, exercise, relaxation etc. will usually resolve the issue in 6 -12 months. Unfortunately, I'm a 'child' of the modern age and expect instant fixes but on this one I'm learning that the body is often it's own best healer.
The success stories are out there - the problem is that they are out there getting on with their lives, not on discussion boards like us!!!
I consider myself a success story. I did the PT, walking, MRI, X-rays, second MRI, manipulations, and then lots of rest/exercise.
I did as much research as I could while contemplating surgery. I bypassed the cortisone shots for the back as I had already experienced the damage from them in my shoulder.
My diagnosis: L4 arthritis
Lax ligaments pulling my L5/SI out of whack
I took Bextra, Neurontin, Ultraset and Tylenol. I was prescribed, but did't take, Perodan, Percocet, Fentynal patch.
I was told that I would need an SI injection.
I went with Prolotherapy. I did it three times. The doc hit a nerve and I thought that I would never heal, but my ligaments are back to good as new. I am no longer out of alignment. Although I still have arthritis, the ligaments are no longer sloppy and my back is no staying in place.
As long as I keep up the exercise program, my back should be fine. Had I not done the Prolotherapy it would have just been a matter of time before I allowed them to do the SI injection and possibley gone on to herniate the disc.
Luckily, we caught it in time. If they had found a tear, as it was a push, twist injury, I am sure that I would have opted for the IDET.
It has been one year, two months, since my injury. I did fall on my butt at one point, which set me back, but time eventually healed that also.
When I started researching this, I used a mega search engine and just typed in the words to find non surgical means of repairing my back. That is how I came up with Prolotherapy. Otherwise, I would have never known about it.
surgery is the last resort. And, it all depends on each person. Some handle pain better than others. I don't deal with pain well, and being in the nursing profession, I can't deal with pain day in and day out. I will say though, if you are in good shape, are not overweight and don't smoke, if you had to have sx you'd probably get good results. People have to remember to pay attention to daily activities such as bending over and picking stuff up, even picking up the paper the wrong way can cause problems. I would be able to give you a good story if I hadn't ignored my body and put myself in situations to harm my back,(as a nursing asst we lift A LOT). I will say though, If you start leaning towards surgery, ask your doc if you are a candidate for a PARTIAL discectomy. This is much less evasive and you'd probably get good results. It is where they only remove the bulging part of the disc that is pushing on the nerves. I would have had awesome success if a few things had not happened(you can read my post under success stories). All surgeries related to the back are major since paralysis, loss of feeling/bowel and bladder functions are always a risk, plus risk of infection, but you take a risk anytime something is done to your body including seeing a chiropractor and getting the injections. Anyhoo, whatever you decide I wish you luck. In PT, ask about ultrasound and E-Stim. These help relieve pain. Always use ice on your back and do your stretches. GOOD LUCK!
Hi everyone, I have also had a success story. My MRI showed 4 herniated lumbar discs, and one bulging one. I can't even remember the numbers that went with them. I had severe sciatic pain for 6 months, and even had to give up 2 days of work, I work in a store, and the pain was worsened by standing. I only saw my regular doctor, and a chiropractor (my insurance wouldn't pay for PT). The pain went away very gradually, but it went away!! I don't mean to minimize how awful it was, there were times I would be in tears from pain, but I was terrified of surgery, and had not heard very good things about it, so I stuck it out. I guess time really does heal. Best of luck to everyone.
I'm also glad to hear more non-surgery success stories. I have had a bad couple of days as my back pain and sciatica were aggravated by swimming - which had been recommended by my ortho! I think it is question of listening to your body - figure out what helps and what hurts.
One thing that I found really good was a couple of sessions of rehabilitative one-to-one pilates sessions. I was shown how to strengthen my core (abs, pelvic floor etc. ) in a way that would not aggravate my back. Walking also made a huge difference and I have refused to allow myself become immobile again, no matter how bad the pain is. I have also cut out most inflammatory foods - carbs, sugar, coffee etc.
Trips to the chiro, osteopath, acupuncturist and PT didn't make much of a difference.
Does anyone else have any non-medical techniques that worked for them?
I am 22 with herniations at L4-L5 and L5-S1. The back pain was accompanied by sciatica. This had been a longstanding problem that was diagnosed recently, so I had very tight hamstrings and other weakened or tight muscles.
My doctors also said that they wanted to avoid surgery. My neuro said I may someday need surgery when I'm older, because the herniation at L4-L5 is fairly substantial, but that since I'm young, we should try to avoid surgery right now. There was a point for about a month where I could barely walk, and was in quite a bit of pain. I took bextra/aleve as well as muscle relaxers (flexeril and then skelaxin). That was about 2.5 months ago. At this point, I am not taking any meds (except for ibuprofen occassionally), and am doing PT about once a week. Aside from that, I walk 2+ miles on the treadmill and do other stretches and strengthening exercises for my abs and back. The exercises are pretty easy and not too strenuous, but they're helping slowly.
I still have to be very careful, which is tough at my age. No more sports (at least for the time being), and not too much lifting or bending. It sucks, but I just think back to when I couldn't even get out of bed or walk, and it puts things into perspective. I guess the most important things to do if you're going the non-surgical approach is to avoid straining the back, and at the same time, to do something to strengthen the back, abs, legs, etc and stretch. How you get there is sort of dependant on what works for you, but make sure you stay active.
I have the herniated discs and sciatica as well, and would love to say I was a success story too! No such luck though LOL!! My drs say surgery's not an option, I've tried everything you can think of (besides chiro), and still no success!! The only thing that keeps me out of bed, is my meds, and unless I find a new dr (other dr was dx'd with chrone's disease and quit)soon I'll be bedridden yet again!!
Don't mean to be a downer, just hoping for prayers so I can be a "success story" too! Take care!!
My experience is something like AS300's, in slow motion! I improved a good deal by about six months post injury. However, after that I began to roller coaster, going up and down. Working very hard to break the cycle!
Still, the stats are very good for improvement within the first six to nine months. After that, a reassessment is often appropriate.