Just a little over two weeks ago I acquired low back pain radiating into one leg from what is believed to be (by me, my MD, and my DC) compression of disks. No traumatic injury, just prolonged standing on a hard surface doing volunteer service to people in a dinner line for 5.5 hrs. I have completed a 10-day course of prednisone. My MD prescribed 2-3 Lortab for pain. My DC has made adjustments and given me a therapeutic exercise for the low back. I have found some relief by using a cold pack on the back and leg. They have told me to expect 6-8 weeks to heal. I am doing some walking now, and that is tolerable. I am doing very little sitting, fanny down. I just kind of "half-sit" on the side of a chair. I am still compromised and in pain, especially at night as a try to sleep. I tried to get through the night last night without a dose of Lortab, but it was a miserable night. I do not want to get hooked on Rx medication! Is there anything else that I might do to accelerate improvement. This is all new to me.
Yes. You need to get a referral to a physical rehabilitation specialist who will demonstrate several exercises to relieve compression. You will require at least four to six sessions. The exercises cannot be learned on the internet, but are very helpful. This will be money well spent, even if it is not covered by insurance. Opiates won't work. Ask your physician to prescribe a transdermal lidocaine patch which you should wear for no longer than 12 hours a day. Keep well hydrated and avoid any lifting. Sleep with a pillow between your legs. Also, to relieve the pain, have your physician prescribe a TENS device.
I finally had surgery for a herniated disc in 11/10. Definitely try therapy. I also had pain injections in my lower back. Since I waited so long to have surgery, I was told it would take approximately a yr. to heal, but I am still in a lot of pain. I live in LA and here you don't need a prescription for a TENS unit. I bought mine at a pharmacy. When in use, it disrupts the pain signals, but as soon as you take it off, the pain returns. I do know several people who leave theirs on all the time. You need to have an MRI also to make sure there is nothing major going on. Hope you feel better soon!
Thanks for your helpful suggestions. I have begun physical therapy and will be doing that three times a week for 2-4 weeks. It's demanding, but I'm willing to do what it takes to register improvement. My MD prescribed the transdermal Lidocaine patch. I used it once, last night, and I'm giving it mixed reviews. The patch somewhat relieved pain, but the spasm in the soft tissue and muscle continues, so a cold pack did just as well to relieve that. It was worth a try on the patch, but given the cost I think I wouldn't give it rave reviews at this point. However, I've got 30 of them, so I won't lay them aside. I know I've got a ways to go, so I'll do the PT exercises, apply the patch, and soldier on.
If you've got pain radiating down into the leg, that's a disc problem. If it's not herniated then it could be a bulging disc. for some people, an epidural steroid injection does the trick to pull it back in. Basically shrinks the disc away from the nerve. TYhe other possible option for bulgingh disc is Decopression over several sessions. Basically stretches your back disc apart to 'suck in' the discs away from the nerve. Over several sessions this has been successful for some. If it turns out it's a herniated disc, then a minimal microdiscectomy is usually the only viable solution. This is why I asked, have you gotten an MRI done yet. That needs to be done at least to see what you've gort going on so as to not waste your time and money trying treatments that may not be applicable to your problem.
I had an L5-S1 herniated disc 5 years ago. I tried all that other stuff I mentioned with various doctors that just took my money until finally they said, you have to get surgery don or this will start to do some real damage to your sciatic nerve, None of this other stuff is working and for a herniated disc, surgery is usually the viable solution. I had messesd around with all the other "thrapys" etc for almost 7-8 months. In that time I probably went too long that a little pernmannt damage had been done to the nerve because of being strung along by the doctors, chiropractors etc. For 7 months I could not function, sit or walk without extreme pain. After the surgery I finally had relief. Not 100% but I was able to function again. I was like, "why the hell didn't I do this 6 months later,?" I probably would have come out of an earlier surgery much better. It's a quick minimally invasive procedure, most don't realize. But everyone was relating all these horror stories about "oh no, you don't want surgery" Well, that was all really based around what people hear about extensive, invasive bone fusion surgeries for multiple degenerated discs etc, which a simple little microdiscectomy for a single herniated disc is not even comparable to.
As far as healing, it does take more than two to three years for the back and muscles to gradually get less discomfort. That's because the back discs don't get blood flow and it is slow to scar. And there will be a little scarring around the disc even as minimally invasive as the surgery is. But now I walk and work out etc with practically no pain. Sitting or standing for long periods gets a little uncomfortable and I start to feel a little tingling or numbness in the foot sometimes, but nothing bad or disabling. I just get up and walk around and it foes away. Some days the weather will affect it a little but that's normal with any injury to back or bones and muscles etc.
I hope your therapy helps, but don't fall into to it too long if it doesn't start showing results. Long term you're just wishful thinking if it's not really helping and sooner or later you will need to get that MRI so you can know exactly what the problem is. If anything, just to rule out a disc problem.
Thanks for your insight. Currently with physical therapy the situation is improving day by day, so I am encouraged that I'm heading in the right direction. I am off pain pills, I am able to walk without pain, and my range of motion has improved. If improvement continues as hoped, I think I will be able to avoid surgery. I appreciate your comments.
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