I have lower right back pain which radiates around to the front and down my leg to my knee. I went to a chiropractor and she said I did not have a herniated disk but have a pinched femoral nerve. I did not get any relief from the treatments so I had an MRI from my medical doctor which found a small left L5-S1 disk herniation. Disk bulges at two levels. Degenerative L4-5 subluxation. I cannot have the steroid shots so the doctor made an appointment with a surgeon. I would really like to try physical therapy or exercises first and was wondering if anyone could give me suggestions. He did not give me any pain pills or suggest anything else but surgery. Any advice would be appreciated.
I would suggest you make an appointment or get a referral to a spine specialist. This can be either a fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon whose practice is limited to the neck and back. Get a copy of your MRI and take it with you to the appointment. These are the two specialties that have the most education and training in the mechanics and diseases of the spine, and I feel it is best to start at the top and get a diagnosis...and then work from there.
One of these doctors will look at your MRI and will correlate those findings to what is found on physical exam, a basic neurologic exam and after hearing your description of how this impacts your day to day life.
You don't need to be concerned about being rushed into surgery. The doctor will try conservative measures, with surgery being a last resort. You will probably be referred for a course of physical therapy. (and typically a series of ESIs, but since you can't have them, they will think of something else to address inflammation, etc.).
Vertebral subluxation is a chiropractic term, and I'm not sure what was meant by it. Do you know if the MRI showed a spondylolisthesis (retrolisthesis or perhaps anterolisthesis)? This is a condition (often found at L4-L5 or L5-S1) where one vertebra slides over the top of the adjacent one. It can contribute to an instability at the spinal segment which can result in a "pinched" nerve.
I can suggest a book to you that might help with your discs...but if you have a spondylolisthesis, the exercises should not be done...so you may want to wait until you meet with the spine surgeon.
Thank you so much for the reply! The written report from the MRI doesn't say anything about spondylolisthesis. The doctor I have an appointment with is a spine specialist but the appointment isn't until August 12th and I was hoping to find some relief before that time. I guess I will have to be patient. Thanks again!
If you do not have a spondylolisthesis, there is a book "Heal your Own Back" by a well-known physical therapist, Robin McKenzie. He developed a system for evaluating and treating disc problems a number of decades ago...and his exercises are now commonly used among PTs around the world. Several people I know have been able to heal their herniated discs by faithfully following the program contained in this book. It is in its 9th printing...so lots of people have tried it.
You might want to call your doctor who ordered the MRI and check to see what the subluxation means in your case, and if you could try "McKenzie" exercises. This doctor could refer you to PT so you could be strengthening your core and back while awaiting that August appointment.