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Would Large Central Disc Protrusion Cause Pain?

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Old 12-06-2011, 09:42 AM   #1
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Would Large Central Disc Protrusion Cause Pain?

I'm new here and quite desperate for answers!!! So, thank you in advance for any info you can share

From those of you with experience, can a large central disc protrusion cause pain? I have a large protrusion at L5-S1. My original Dr seemed to think that this was the cause of my low back pain. He sent me in for a cortisone shot, which helped very much. For once, someone didn't think the pain was in my head. He has since moved away and referred me to another Dr who told me that my low back pain is NOT being caused by my discs and that he has no idea why I hurt. He told me discs were meant to bulge and shouldn't cause me pain. He told me to try pilates an yoga. Maybe he's right? I don't know?!

I've been told so many things by so many Dr's, that I don't know what to think anymore. At this point, I'm willing to live with the pain. I just want to know what's causing it!!

Is there anyone out there with large disc bulges that have pain that is actually CAUSED by this?

Thanks again for any info you can offer :-)

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Old 12-06-2011, 05:29 PM   #2
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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!

Old 12-06-2011, 06:21 PM   #3
Join Date: Dec 2011
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g1princess HB User
Re: Would Large Central Disc Protrusion Cause Pain?

Thanks for the reply! The first Dr I saw was a physiatrist. He's the one that ordered the MRI's and cortisone shot. This guy also noticed that I had hyper reflexes and a few beats of clonus in my ankle and just to be "cautious", got me a brain MRI. He was very thorough. Luckily, the brain MRI came back clean w/out any lesions. He recently moved out of state and referred me to another Dr in his office.

This new guy practices occupational medicine with a specialty in musculoskeletal (sp) issues. Is he a good guy to go to for my back problems?

I've been to physical therapy many times and it seemed to help somewhat, but the pain seemed to come back after awhile. I have 2 children under the age of 2 and it's nearly impossible to not be lifting them and bending over for various reasons!

My MRI notes the large disc protrusion and this Dr said "Ah, that's nothing". He didn't even look at the MRI images. If it really IS nothing, then I'll move on. But if it's something that I should seek more treatment on, then I will, with a NEW Dr. At this point, I really don't care about the pain anymore. I just want an answer to what is causing my low back pain.

Old 12-06-2011, 06:24 PM   #4
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Seattle, Washington
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g1princess HB User
Re: Would Large Central Disc Protrusion Cause Pain?

By the way, what's the difference between a disc protrusion and disc herniation? Thanks :-)

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