Hello. I'm new to the board and after having read some posts, I'm almost ashamed that I've struggled so much with my current back situation. It doesn't rival what a lot of you have gone through/are going through.
I apologize for not knowing the jargon or acronyms.
Anyway, brief background: 35-year-old male, very active until the past few months. Healthy otherwise, no smoking.
Two MRIs on my lower back indicate protruding and possibly torn disc at L4-L5 and bulging disc at L5-S1. Some facet issues, too, I guess.
I've had two epidural steroidal injections (ESI, right?) and got nothing from either. I am not in constant pain--I can sit at my computer for a fair amount of time and laying down gives me no grief at all (getting up from laying down is another matter).
However, I'm now limited to two physical activities: walking and (mild) lifting of weights. (A couple months ago, I went for a run and paid for it with three days without being able to get out of bed.) And I get the shooting pain from all sorts of daily activities; often I'll be doing something seemingly benign--like reaching for the remote or releasing my emergency brake or stepping off a curb--and I'll get the sensation that my back is about to "lock up." I have some dull pain and tingling in my right leg, but nothing too bothersome.
I am relatively afraid of meds, so I've limited my intake to Bextra, which used to work a little but now hardly at all.
Questions: Am I on the road to the nightmare some of you have experienced? Is it inevitable it will get like that? Am I done forever playing sports?
And if anyone can help me with an insurance question: currently my policy has a rider on my back, so I've paid for my injections in cash and all doctor visits aren't covered. What kind of coverage is out there which might cover my back?
Sorry for the length, but I would appreciate any input at all. Any. Thanks a lot.
it usually doesn't get worse. in your case stick to pt. my situation is just like your accept i'm in constant pain. two bulging disk same as your but my discogram showed a tear l4-l5. terrible pain. i have to take pain meds everyday. you're in pretty good shape it sounds like. hit the pt, but watch out for the bextra. they might pull it soon because of the heart attack risk like vioxx. jayboy
Most disc herniations will heal with the conservative measure you mentioned. If you are still having problems after a few months, or if your symptoms get worse, you may have to do something more. I am a 38 year old, very active male and I developed problems with leg pain after sliding into second playing softball. I tried all the conservative stuff but did not get any better, I actually got worse. I changed docs and found out my first surgeon had misdiagosed me. I ended up having a microdiscectomy in August. I am now back snowboarding and cross country skiing. I plan on playing softball again this summer and I look forward to golf, camping, hiking, fishing and mountain biking.
You will most likely heal fine but if you do require more invasive measures, it is by no means the end of an active lifestyle. Good luck!
Well for me, I've been dealing with my low back pain for three years now, it gets worse every day and I'm only twenty. It sounds like you are in the beginning stages of this. You do not have severe constant pain and hopefully it never comes to that. The best thing I would say is to get on this immediately and see what the doctor's are going to do for you. I am currently being taken care of by the pain management clinic and just recently, finally, they found something to help control my pain. See, I've been on mediciations for so long now that I'm sick of it. They don't do anything except make me not care about the pain. Doesn't get rid of it, just masks it. Pain management (PM) had given me that epidural steroid injection (ESI) in my lumbar spine for my degenerative disk disease (DDD) in L4/L5 with an annular tear. That didn't provide any relief so they didn't repeat the procedure. Just this past Tuesday I had a medial branch block. This procedure is an injection to find out if the pain is related to the facet joints. What they do is they numb the medial branch nerves that feed into the facet joints. If I get relief then that means it worked and they'll know where to go from there. It wasn't comfortable, that procedure, as they poked me ten times (on five levels, on both sides of the spine) but let me tell you, I had five hours of relief and I've never felt that good not in three years! So I say all this to say that everyone is different when it comes to this back stuff. Though all of us here have gone through the same procedures, everyone has reacted differently. In your case, since you're physically active that's wonderful! That's one of the best things to do because that makes the 'juices' flow in the body. Hopefully it doesn't get any worse than it is now. If it gets to the point that you need meds, then it doesn't hurt to get like a 15 day trial period of something just to see how you react to it...-Anita
Just wanted to say that there is hope. I had an episode where I was sitting on the ground for a long period of time, then when trying to get up I could not stand up straight anymore...and there was intense pain in my back and shooting sensations down my legs.
I ran the course with my HMO on and off for 2 years, I went through all the procedures (chiropractic, phys therapy, massage, etc) until they finally gave me an MRI. It revealed a bulging disc, I think L5-S1. I have no idea how it happened. Finally I went to the surgeon who told me that I could opt for the surgery or wait it out, sometimes the bulging disc material may actually subside.
This was about 4 years ago. I decided that I would do ANYTHING I COULD before the surgery option. Since then I have dropped 30 pounds, and strengthened my lower back and abdominal muscles. Physically, these muscles are the only support for your lower back, they act as a natural brace. There are right and wrong ways to do these exercises, however, as your phys therapist will tell you. Believe me, at first when I was in the most intense pain I was doing things like pelvic rocks and seemingly "unhelpful" exercises given to me by the physical therapist...and at first I couldn't run on the treadmill but could only walk. It was a slow process. But, I haven't had a recurrence since 4 yrs ago, and can now do whatever I want as far as sports and exercise.
I don't want to promise that this will work for you, but I do want to tell you there is hope. I definitely had the same feelings of hopelessness that you did. Follow your phys therapist's advise and do the exercises. Again, my focus was on strengthening trunk muscles, stretching, back massage, and dropping weight.
There are lots of conservative treatments for back pain. Surgery should be considered a last resort.
Since the shots didn't work, and they are a diagnostic tool, they have ruled out simple imflammation from overdoing and you must have something else causing the inflammation, making it a continuous source of pain. Sorry that you had to go through three of them to find this out.
I think that when a person is in pain, and this is just my take on it, one will try anything to stop the pain. We will try things later that we swore we would not ever do. I know that I have.
You might want to steer away from the Bextra. It is now on the list of questionable meds along with Vioxx and Celebrex. My doctor had me try Liquid Gel Advil and they seem to take the edge off. I was taking the pill form and they were not working.
I've had a couple rounds of physical therapy, and there was marginal improvement. But it seemed to have a ceiling. I was doing back-strengthening exercises every day, and in an intense manner. Lately, I haven't been able to do all of them due to pain.
I don't expect this to naturally subside. I've never been so inactive in all my life, and yet nothing is "healing," and all it takes is for me to do something slightly out of the ordinary (such as paint a mantle in my house, which I did last week) to give me a few days of bonus pain.
If a disc is protruding, what can be done? There's probably a thousand answers to that, right?
I'd like to replace the frick'n thing, and ask the doctor to save it for me so I could taunt it and wildly stomp on it post-surgery.
Rider: my wife quit working for The Man--and I've never worked for Him--so we had to buy our own insurance. My back was a pre-existing condition, so no coverage. One company wouldn't cover us at all.
Yeah, I've read about Bextra. I'm in good physical shape (other than the back, of course), so I'm not too worried about it for now. Plus, if my heart explodes, that'll mitigate the back pain, right? Right?
What the surgeon told me is that the protruding disc material can only be removed with surgery (again as a last resort), or in some cases the material may actually "dry up" and the protrusion may shrink a little. But other than that there's nothing else you can do about the protrusion that I know of.
It is possible mine has "dried", but I don't know. I do know that it was protruding quite a bit when I received my MRI. I haven't received a follow-up MRI.
Back surgery is always a risk, make sure you have either 1) exhausted all other options or 2) are in such pain or are so tired of it that you feel there's no other choice.
Again good luck! Please let us know what happens.
(for pounding on your disc and setting it aflame!!)
I want to answer but I don't know how to exactly. Can I say there is no guarantee either way? Mind your dr's do's and don'ts, learn to lift and bend the right way, go to PT, try the injections again, maybe transforamial this time(one on each side of nerve openings instead of the one in the middle only). Stray away from sports that can cause injury. You could get way better, you could stay the same, you could get worse. I am 27 and I got worse, but, I kept lifting humans! (nurse asst). Had I not done that after my first surgery four years ago, maybe I wouldn't be here right now, but, then again, with my neck, I may have found my way here regardless!
I understand how you feel. I often wonder how my life will be, but if I think about it too much, I will go insane and take my family with me. Don't be afraid of tests, surgery or second opinions. This is YOUR back, so you do what you feel is best. Got it? Gotta promise to take care of you and whatever you feel is in your best interest. Wow, did this sound drawn out or what???
PT helped me with my first bulging disc 5 years ago, til I got another one now & the muscle spasms have pulled the old one out too! I have been going to PT but not much results this time. Tell me about being limited. I'm limited to sitting on the couch & watching t.v. and maybe doing up a few dishes, putting a load of laundry in the washer etc. I haven't been to any kind of social event in months, too much pain to leave the house!!
I feel like a vegetable... oh, by the way, the PT I went to the first time was McKenzie method.
I have problems with the same discs and have had unsuccesful surgery. You said you have done a couple rounds of PT. Not sure what a round is. I'm currently in my 5th month of twice a week PT. I didn't begin to see improvement until 8 weeks. I also do home stuff once a week. That's three times a week. Everyday is too much, I think for your condition. I'd get a good PTherapist. I agree with the others, surgery is a last resort. I'm a good example why. You can probably deal with this if you get the right help. Your activities have to be limited because you have a damaged spine. You can't bull your way out of this.