Re: Would Large Central Disc Protrusion Cause Pain?
Welcome to the board.
Yes, a disc protrusion, bulge or herniation are one of the main causes of lower back pain. What type of doctor are you being treated by?
I assume you have had a MRI since you know you have a protrusion at L5-S1.
I would suggest you make an appointment with a fellowship-trained ortho spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon who limit their practice to issues of the neck and back, take whatever tests you have had, and go in for a consultation. While it is true, that not all disc bulges cause symptoms of pain, and a MRI will sometimes show a "false positive," it is equally true that disc bulges can also be the source of great pain and discomfort. If a nerve is being irritated, it can also be the cause of pain that radiates out from the site, traveling down the leg, sometimes into the foot. It can be the cause of hip pain, groin pain, sciatic type pain, etc. In the cervical spine in addition to these areas, it can cause pain in the arms, hands, and all kinds of symptoms in the head.
If you are still in pain, most doctors would suggest a course of physical therapy to strengthen the back and core muscles, and to hopefully get the pain to move off the nerve. A series of steroid shots might be tried in an attempt to get any inflammation down (and move the irritant off the nerve). You should be very aware of your structural alignment and use good body mechanics and posture. You should avoid any activity that requires bending or twisting at the waist, pushing, pulling, reaching overhead or to the side, and lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk. Make sure your grocery bags are not too heavy.
With the holidays approaching, avoid wearing heels as they are another source of aggravation.
You can use ice for pain...15-20 minutes per hour as often as needed, being careful not to freeze the skin...also products like Aleve, Advil and other NSAIDS if you tolerate them. Avoid sleeping on your stomach as this is especially hard on the lower lumbar discs.
Protruding discs can and do heal on their own without any surgical intervention, but it takes some work on the part of the patient, and, a great deal of patience, as it is a slow process.
There are many good spine specialists in the Seattle area. I hope you can find one who takes your symptoms seriously!