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Recent Diagnosis - L5

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Old 02-08-2012, 03:30 PM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Lacombe, LA
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Recent Diagnosis - L5

Hello All,

Obviously new to the forums, but I wanted to throw out my story to maybe see what everyone thinks, and to weigh in on the situation.

I had an MRI on Friday, and I just found out the resultsMonday that I was diagnosed with a Protruding Disc in L5, with a light tear. My Doctor with Pain Management stated my options were Epidural Treatment, Possibly Surgery, or Physical Therapy. I am 27 years old.

So here's the history....

In May '06 is when I first had back issues, and this was from my own fault. I was moving, and I lifted wrong & pulled my back. I saw a Minute Clinic, and was prescribed Muscle Relaxers (Skelaxin) & Pain Relievers.

I was fine after I recovered with Ice & such, but then I had another episode in '08 when I was at work, and I didn't lift anything, but bent over to pick up a piece of paper, and when I came back up, I was hit with a sharp pain which I could not relieve or escape. I had to leave work in my agonizing pain, and went to a Chirpractor, who treated me in several sessions, and it gradually got better.

I had another episode around March '09, where it just started hurting me really bad, and I saw a Local Pain Specialist, who treated me with Physical Therapy, and prescribed some more muscle relaxers/pain meds. At this point, I'll admit, I was overweight, weighing 260 at 5'10. At this point I lost a ton of weight & got down to 200 lbs.

Recently, as in last month. I had my back flare up on again. I worked a full day - which is retail, so I alternate standing & sitting alot. I saw a Quick Care, who again prescribed the Relaxers/Pain Meds, and gave a shot of Cortisone. He recommended me to the Pain Management Doctor, who in turn examined me, and then ordered the MRI.

The pain has come from the same place each time, which is my L5 region. So now I'm exploring the options as to what to do...or some guidance or recommendations from people who have also had this same problem. My pain is off & on, and I only take pain meds when it is way too excruciating for me to basically function. I have used ice, and it has worked fine for me after 20 minutes of application. I just want to manage this to where I can get back into a normal state, and eventually play hockey again.

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Old 02-09-2012, 06:14 AM   #2
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Re: Recent Diagnosis - L5

Congrats on the weight loss success!

I did have a fusion in Aug but highly recommend trying EVERYTHING else first. I don't regret my surgery but it was tough. My first doc advocated trying epidurals to get a patient pain-free enough to do productive PT....I think that's a good place to start.

You do need a dedicated doc though....Minute Clinics are great for quick issues (I had a great exp once for an ear infection) but you need a long-term care provider that you totally trust and who has a lot of back experience (my surgeon does fusions mult times a week). PM docs can help but you need a spine expert on the team too.

Old 02-09-2012, 08:16 PM   #3
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Re: Recent Diagnosis - L5

Are you having any nerve compression symptoms? Pain through the legs, buttocks, twitching muscles, numbness, loss of strength? If not, and if the pain is only coming from the back itself, I would recommend aggressively pursuing non-invasive techniques as much as possible. Discs can form scar tissue and heal over small tears, but you have to be very careful to give yourself enough time for the disc to fully heal so as to avoid a cycle of reinjury. Some of the posters may have specific resources, if you are interested in self-healing and only have the back pain.

I had an extruded disc, so after two years of constant pain, mostly in the legs, I decided it was time for surgery. But, not before doing the Medrol dose pack, three epidurals, lots of PT and seeing a chiropractor for 18 months. Medrol did nothing, epidurals each helped for two days. The PT, I think, kept my symptoms from getting worse. (By the way, this progression tends to be the standard methodology for most patients, starting with the most conservative measures first.)

I would not see a chiropractor who is going to adjust you. However, there are two separate schools of chiropractors. If you want to try a chiropractor, I would recommend the type of chiropractor who focuses on nerve stimulation. With your propensity to reinjure yourself, it is possible that some of your nerves and muscles are not working together.

Old 02-10-2012, 07:07 PM   #4
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Re: Recent Diagnosis - L5

Hi, I've been living with back pain off and on since 2000. I had two annular tears which were repaired using a non-evasive procedure called Disc Biacuplasty. I agree if you don't have nerve damage and/or pain down the legs to take the non-evasive techniques first, recommending a Pain Management SPecialist with a psychio background. I'd try injections (epidurals, facet injections, radio frequency abalations, etc) whichever the Dr recommends. I'd also try some other nerve pain meds like lyrica, neurontin, topomax (I take topomax) to help manage the pain being careful to start at a low dose and move up slowly to avoid side effects.

I'd also be very careful with my back. I know you're 27 but you've got an injury and you priority is to avoid back surgery at this point. That's your last resort. If you lift something heavy or twist the wrong way and completely blow that disc then you'll be worse off for sure. PT will show you how to bend and build up your core strength. That's what you need. Whenever I have to do anything strenuous with my back I wear a brace to protect it. That's just me.

Hope this helps, cj

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