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Herniated Discs
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Herniated Discs

Hello, I am a 25 year old female who has been experiencing back pain since December 2002 and Back and left leg pain since Feb 2003. I had an MRI done and this is what it showed:
At L3-L4 there is mild facet arthropathy. There is degenerative disease at L4-L5 & L5-S1.
At L4-L5, there is a central disc hernaition with mass effect on the thecal sac. There is also an annular tear. There is no encroachment on the foramina. There is facet arthropathy and ligamentum hypertrophy.
At L5-S1, there is a paracentral disc herniation. There is no encroachment of the foramem on the right. There is encroachment of the foramen on the left by bulge. There is assymetric to the left annular tear. There is facet arthropathy.

I have tried PT twice which made it feel worse, I have tried accupuncture and I have tried the chiropractor.  I have also had three epidural injections which mildly helped after three, but I still live on pain medication. I take Dilaudid during the day and flexeril before I go to bed.
I am generally an active person and this is driving me crazy. I have been out of work for a total of three months now. I am a registered nurse so I have also been informed that it might be best to find a new, less physical job.
I am afraid my only option left is surgery. I go to the surgeon again next week. I wanted to know if there are any other less invasive options that might help my situation. I have heard so many bad stories about sugery and being 25 I don't want to deal with this every day for the rest of my life.  Thank you for your time and your reply.
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Avatar_n_tn
One test that wasn't mentioned in your post was an EMG which could possibly help to determine whether there's any active nerve damage from the disc/spine disease. Depending on what they find, this may help you and your physicians make a decision as to whether or not surgery may be helpful. Otherwise, it sounds like you're "maxing out" on conservative therapy measures. As I have never seen you or reviewed your films personally, I cannot give an accurate opinion as to the best course of therapy in your case.  But if there is significant nerve compression from the spine disease, surgery may be helpful. I can certainly understand your concerns about surgery, but in the hands of a good spine surgeon, many patients come out better than when they went in. Good luck.
23 Comments
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Hi,  I am so sorry to hear about your pain.  16 months ago I suffered from a severe disc herniation at L5-S1, it was so bad that when it happened I immediately lost use of my whole leg, they removed the disc 7 days later and I am left with drop foot which is permanent and not fun for an athletic 36 year old!!  I have 3 other discs that have herniated and gone through serious episodes of extreme pain.  My releif came when a doctor recommeded (besides my cardio workout DAILY) adding a daily regime of weights and abdominal work.  I am stronger than ever and feel great, my back only hurts when I don't work out.  It did not happen over night but a daily committment over months.  Another option that worked great was a steriod injection (series of 3), that also calms the inflamation (inflammation) and is non-invasive.  Of the many doctors I have went to they said, keep your weight down and exercise, that is all you can do for degenerative disc disease.  Good luck and hope this helps!
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Thank you for the reply. I have tried the epidural steroid injections and they haven't helped much.  All exercises I have tried make everything hurt worse.  Also, I am already at a normal weight for my height, I know when my mom hurt her back they told her to lose weight, but I don't have much to lose.  I think I am just becoming very impatient with everyone telling me it just takes time because it has been almost 7 months.  But I guess the best I can do is just take it one day at a time and have a positive attitude.  But sometimes that's hard to do. I think the worst thing about it is I don't even know what exactly I did to cause the heniated discs, the onset of pain was gradual. I am sure the fact that I life heavy patients every day as my job has a lot to do with it, but I can't pinpoint one specific incident.  Thank you again for your response.
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I am now 30 year old,and I had a bulging disc L4-5 for 12 years before finally having spinal fusion at that level two years ago.  I have had a lot of relief with the kind of back pain that keeps you from doing much of anything, (i.e. bending, standing, putting on your own socks and shoes, spitting toothpate into the sink, and actually making it, etc...)  I do have sciatic nerve pain daily still .  The pain is not always severe, but some days can be debilatating.  I also suffer from extreme nocturnal leg cramps, and lose a lot of sleep.  Even though I still suffer with these problems, I would not trade the surgery for anything. I still have pain, but I can get around a lot easier, can put my own shoes on again, and make the toothpaste into the sink (I know these things may sound trivial, but when you can do things like that, you  feel like a regular person again!)  I made my decision to have the surgery because the years of chiropractic adjustments, NSAIDS and pain meds, exercise, therapy, and cortisone injections just werent working.  My right leg also went totally numb, and that scared me.  I still have numbness in the lower half of the right side of my leg, and on the top of the foot, especially the big toe.  I shutter to think about the damage I would have done to myself by not having the surgery, and letting the disc continue to put pressure on the sciatic nerves.  I often wonder if I would have had the surgery even 6 years sooner, would I have the nerve damage that I do now?  I think what you need to do is decide how much pain you are having and how long you can tolerate it, and discuss with your doctor the possibilities of doing more damage by letting it go. Of course there are risks with the surgery that you should consider too, as it can cause nerve damage and permanent numbness,  itself (among other things). It is a big decision to make with a lot of pros and cons. I hope that I at least gave you a different way to look at things.  Good luck!
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My advice to you is to see a neurosurgeon ASAP as you should have seen relief from PT within 6 weeks. As for a chiropractor; you should not have any type of manipulation to herniated areas and they also cannot resolve annular tear issues not can they help with foraminal prolems. These are severe problems which also involve the nerves. Manipulation can cause the disc to rupture and also the tear to worsen and the end result can cause severe nerve damage. I believe that chiropractors should not be allowed to work on any patients with spinal issues without haveing an MRI first. I know as a chiropractor ruptured my herniated disc at L5-S1 when I was 23 an am now 46. I have had 5 low back surgeries, 1 neck, and surgeries on both shoulders and have become very knowledgeable throughout the years. If epidural injections didn't help after the second injection, I wouldn't have had the third. It is your body and your right to reject methods of treatment if they are not helping you and its your right to a second opinion. Nobody wants to have surgery and you seem to have tried all conservative  treatments, but it is time to see a neurosureon.
Good Luck!
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Thank you chinacat and cyndi for your advice.  I am planning on going to a neurosurgeon for a second opinion. I am currently under the care of an orthopedic spine specialist/surgeon. He is very conservative in treatment, and doesn't do surgery until everything else has been tried. As for the three epidural shots, I received the third one because I thought I had some relief from the second one. The first one had made everything worse, and the second one put me back to where I was before the first one. That is why I tried the third, for the first three days I felt better and then I had a terrible day and was back to the beginning. The pain is so constant sometimes I just can't tell if it's better or if I've just gotten used to tolerating it. It doesn't help that the pain is different everyday. I go back to the orthopedic surgeon this week and I think the plan is to go to a neurologist for an EMG. I will also be making an appointment for a second and maybe even a third opinion. I want to make sure I have exhausted all my options before surgery, because I have heard more horror stories than success stories with back surgery. Thank you again for your replies, I really appreciate it.
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Stormy

This is my two cents; I have had my fair share of trouble with my back since 1994. In that time period I have had 3 back surgeries last one being two years ago. Of my three surgeries none were fusions, I have held off on the fusion part as long as possible. Anyways, my point I am trying to get across is this. I have been a firefighter/paramedic for the last 14 years and in that time I have worked out almost everyday to try to stay fit. Last year I had a severe bout of back pain with temporary paralysis, I was bed ridden for two weeks. I hooked up with a new aggressive therapist who started me on a work out routine with the large therapy balls. I started to work muscles that I thought were already strong, but I was wrong. After about two months with the ball therapy I was pain free, not even sore. It has now been a year and my back is no longer an issue. Thank god because I am only 34. If you are interested in hearing more just reply on this page and I will discuss it in more detail if you would like.     Mark
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Avatar_n_tn
I've seen you somewhere before, stranger.....

Frodo
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Avatar_n_tn
please give me some more details regarding your fitness programme.

I had a discectomy on l4/l5 4 years ago. l5/s1 was slightly prolapsed but not impinging on any nerves and that was left alone by the neurosurgeon.

2 weeks ago I suffered severed back pain and now have sciatica left leg and burning in lumbar area. MRI shows prolapsed l5/s1 and trapped sciatic nerve.

Afraid of further surgery, long term as only 34 and police officer.
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Fire/medic

  Thank you for your reply.  I was wondering if you started your fitness program through a physical therapist, or through a personal trainer. Although physical therapy made me worse last time, I would like to maybe give it one more shot before having any type of surgery. Also, are you still able to work as a paramedic. I am an RN and I was told that I should stop bedside nursing if I don't want to have surgery down the road. I have been out of work for a total of about 3 months and I am scared for when I have to go back. I know it won't be for a while since I am still in pain, but I am afraid that if I just lift or turn one patient the wrong way, I will be back where I started. I work in an ICU so the patients aren't always that helpful in moving and sometimes they actually fight against you. Just curious because I love my job and I really don't want to do a paperwork nursing job, that's not why I went to nursing school. Anyway, if you can tell us a little bit about that fitness porgram that would be great.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hey,
   I would be glad to tell you more, lets just get off the forum because we are limited to amount of words we can use. I still do my job everyday by the way,without difficulty. If you want me to write you, contact me at my e-mail address, so I can get hold of your address also.   Mine: ***@****   Talk to you soon.

   I will tell you what has helped me, good luck
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi,, I was in a car wreck in dec. 2001 and recieved a herniated disc, My legs go numb. and hips hurt alot.. I cannot cook dinner without sitting down, and not even shaving my legs is a easy job.. I had steriod  epidural injection, and had to go to the E.R. for a pain shot,, I could hardly move my legs by the end of the day.. I live on pain meds... and I have even been put on duregesic patches.. My doctor wants me to go to a chiropractic,, but I feel this is a temperary solution to a permanent problem.. I do not want to do the therapy for the rest of my life,, and cannot afford it either.. I have 4 children to support.. I cannot work,, had to quit 2 jobs, for the pain.. I would like the hot wire,, but I dont know what to do anymore.. my doctor showed me what a fussion consists of,, bolts and nuts.. and I would not like that too much. But I would do it if I had too..
Its it not a waste of time for the chiropractor? Not to put them down about their jobs.. I'm sure they do good for certain things.. but a herniated disc? would that not make the problem worse,,,, please,, anyone email me with info on this.. asap.......***@****   thank you so much..... kristy
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Avatar_n_tn
I am a 37-year-old female who had a laminectomy of L5-S1 disc.  There was a left-sided herniation of disk material(2cm in craniocaudal dimension x 1.5cm in AP dimension x 1.5 in width) with compression to the thecal sac and exiting nerve root.  There was also a very large extruded free fragment extending from the L5-S1 level.  The fragment was lying posterior to the L5 body to the level of the L4-5 disc putting severe compression on the thecal sac and underlying nerve roots.  There is also desiccation at the L4 disc.  Postop recovery was very difficult.  I was completely numb from the top of my left hip to the tips of my left toes.  It took a few minutes for me to move my toes just a bit.  I was sent home a few hours later.  Although my severe pain was mostly eliminated, I could barely use my leg for almost two weeks.  Now, after six months, I still have almost no muscle contraction and continued numbness on the backside from the gluteus all the way down to under my toes.  I have extreme pain leveling in range from 6-10, depending on my daily activity.  The pain is generally in my knee, top and outside of my calf, outside of my ankle, foot and toes. In addition, my lower left back is always in pain and increases at times, decreasing my ROM. I received 8 weeks of physical therapy with negative results.  Since then, I have been receiving conservative chiropractic care and have had the first signs of relief from my lower back pain.  The pain continues in my leg and foot with periodic "shock-like" feelings in the bottom of my foot.  My left buttock has fallen and the muscles are atrophied from the buttocks down to my toes.  My foot has drawn up tight with my toes starting to curl under with much pain. The arch of my left foot is much more pronounced leaving my foot much smaller than the right.  I walk with a limp because my calf muscles cannot give me the toe raise sufficient to lift my body weight to the opposite foot.  I sometimes feel as though my left heel is being crushed; NO heel/toe raise on the left, only heel, heel, heel.  This is VERY PAINFUL!!!! The orthopedic surgeon has left me with not hope other than, "wait"  I am concerned that my right hip and knee are now hurting due to the compensation to my left weakness.  Also am concerned about the atrophy to my muscles.  I am a mother of three teen-agers and am generally very active.  Although my family have been very supportive and helpful, I am frustrated at the lack of concern from the medical field.  I am wondering if they would treat this situation the same if were them or their child.  I would love to find someone; anyone who would be willing to maybe look outside of their own knowledge or ability if they cannot help, and offer some solutions.  I was told by one surgeon, "oh well, it is hell getting old."  I am not willing, at the age of 37, to call it quits, pull out my rocking chair, and take up crocheting!!  I know that there has to be something that someone can do to help my recovery and my muscles.  I will not stop or settle for "just wait"!  Do you know of anyone or thing that can help me?  Thank you for your time.  I will be praying for all of your situations.  Be Blessed!  Neicy
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Avatar_n_tn
A post to my resent comment:  If anyone would like to contact me outside of this forum, please e-mail me at d_elkins***@**** or ***@****
Thank you, Neicy
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Avatar_n_tn
Miami and Arizona have the most advanced disk surgery techniques, which UK neurosurgery has adopted--UK: Mr. Martin Knight at Highfield Hospital and Rochdale Infirmary is educated in/practicing most advanced techniques since 1994 [was on BBC 'Tomorrow's World' 1993 for excellent recovery/minimally invasive approaches]--he's worth the 3-4 month wait for appointment and trip to Rochdale.
As for US neurosurgery...in Boston area I've seen both good and bad results, and FOR SURGERY, would look to U Arizona and/or
U Miami [Dolphins football players pushed the neuro medicine to advance, including excellent therapy/rehab]

SHEPHERD CLINIC IN ATLANTA SPECIALIZES IN DIAGNOSIS/THERAPY-REHAB-SUPPORT PLANS FOR ALL SPINE-BRAIN INJURIES AND ILLNESSES
AND COMES VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, has 3-4 month appointment wait, but worth the wait and the trip, must have a doctor tentative spine/brain problem diagnosis-referral or they won't let you make an appointment.

Boston University Medical Center, "INPATIENT 9WEST" on Harrison Ave. has a very good spine team w. outpatient spine-problems rehab therapy, seating clinics, prosthetics consults, etc...


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Avatar_n_tn
Miami and Arizona have the most advanced disk surgery techniques, which UK neurosurgery has adopted--UK: Mr. Martin Knight at Highfield Hospital and Rochdale Infirmary is educated in/practicing most advanced techniques since 1994 [was on BBC 'Tomorrow's World' 1993 for excellent recovery/minimally invasive approaches]--he's worth the 3-4 month wait for appointment and trip to Rochdale.
As for US neurosurgery...in Boston area I've seen both good and bad results, and FOR SURGERY, would look to U Arizona and/or
U Miami [Dolphins football players pushed the neuro medicine to advance, including excellent therapy/rehab]

SHEPHERD CLINIC IN ATLANTA SPECIALIZES IN DIAGNOSIS/THERAPY-REHAB-SUPPORT PLANS FOR ALL SPINE-BRAIN INJURIES AND ILLNESSES
AND COMES VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, has 3-4 month appointment wait, but worth the wait and the trip, must have a doctor tentative spine/brain problem diagnosis-referral or they won't let you make an appointment.

Boston University Medical Center, "INPATIENT 9WEST" on Harrison Ave. has a very good spine team w. outpatient spine-problems rehab therapy, seating clinics, prosthetics consults, etc...


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Avatar_n_tn
I am 21 years old and work as a cna, well I did until two months ago. I injured by back three differnt times, all of these injuries were from lifting patients.  I have been on modified duty for two months now and I finally got a MRI. I have been telling my chiropractor the pain I was experiencing was numbness and sharp pain in my legs, I also added that it felt like my spine. I got my MRI results yesterday and it read: small left paracentral disk protursion in L3-4,same in L5-S1 although this one more moderate. What blows me away is the chiropractor didn't mention the part where it says,(There is loss of T2 bright signal intensity from the intervertebral. There is also mild loss of disk space height at L5-S1,consistent with mild degenerative disk diease. Why did he fail to mention that to me. This is the only thing I have been able to think about. To tell everybody the truth, I am really scared. I have so many years ahead of me, and I don't want to live them in pain. Reading your replys has helped me see I'm not alone.
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I am a 31 year old male. I am currently in my second week of recovery from a microdisectomy of a herniation of the L5-S1 disc.  I injured my back about 10 weeks ago. Tried the Chiropractor at first, only slight relief, he really only helped open up the SI joint which was being constricted by the constant muscle spasmn in my glut/periformis muscle.  Once I got my MRI he pointed me to a Neurosugeon.  Of course the one that everyone recomended didn't take my insurance so I had to find one I liked on my own.  Once I did he gave me a script for steroids, no luck.   He recomended surgery.  No presure and said get a second or third opinion.  I went to an Orthopedic Surgeon with a very good rep.   He said that with my foot drop, that I had a two to six week window to have any chance of correcting it, if it was only pain/numbness in my leg thah it could wait.  He wanted to have me in surgery the next day, kind of pushy with a bit of scare tatic.  I went back to my neuro sugeon he said he had never heard of six week time line (30 years experience, 1500 surgeries) but that the sooner the better and I could wait a few weeks for more opinions but not months.  
Nedless to say I had the surgury, i had immediate relief of the muscle spasm, nubness and pins and needles.  The foot drop is still there but he said from the beginning that that could take any where from six weeks to eight months to come back if it ever did (he said 10-15% chance of not ever getting it back.
Does anyone know haow much I should be walking after the surgery, my Dr. really dances around the issue, he says don't over do it but keep moving around.  Another friend who had this done said his Dr. told him to walk as much as possible.
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Stormy
Please search the internet for "Light Emitting Diode Therapy, NASA, Neuropathy". There are devices using far infrared diode light for deep tissue, muscle and nerve accelerated healing.
A large selection of useful information is out there about this therapy. I had to build my own device as they are very expensive I bought all the parts but did not believe it would work, finally I assembled a device and finally placed it on my lower back, in 15 minutes the deep pain in the bottom of my foot was gone, I placed it higher on my back and the tingling, pain and numbness was also gone from my toes. My entire spine is rittled with arthritus and every disk is damaged and worn. An MRI showed no nerve pinching, still diagnosed with nueropathy though. Am also designing a chair with no support for the buttocks as sitting does bring the pain back, but still controlable with the
device. A commercial name for a device "SuperNova" and a company "Lightforce". I called a lot of people around the world who bought the devices and same good results every time. Please look into this therapy. ***@**** - email
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Avatar_n_tn
So, Stormy, we're all dying to know if you started the exercise program fireman was talking about. Is it working for you, or was he just blowing smoke? His come sounds as if he is trying to sell you something! But, if it's working for you, please share the wealth.

I can offer this advise to anyone with herniated lumbar discs, stay away from a program called Vax-D or any other form of traction. It is almost always administered by Chiropractors, so I should have known better. Its been a month since I quit the program and I am still recovering.
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Avatar_n_tn
email me please - ***@****
Lightman
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Avatar_n_tn
Chinacat, stromy, amt, jen-cna
Please search the internet for "Light Emitting Diode Therapy, NASA, Neuropathy". There are devices using far infrared diode light for deep tissue, muscle and nerve accelerated healing.
A large selection of useful information is out there about this therapy. I had to build my own device as they are very expensive I bought all the parts but did not believe it would work, finally I assembled a device and finally placed it on my lower back, in 15 minutes the deep pain in the bottom of my foot was gone, I placed it higher on my back and the tingling, pain and numbness was also gone from my toes. My entire spine is rittled with arthritus and every disk is damaged and worn. An MRI showed no nerve pinching, still diagnosed with nueropathy though. Am also designing a chair with no support for the buttocks as sitting does bring the pain back, but still controlable with the
device. A commercial name for a device "SuperNova" and a company "Lightforce". I called a lot of people around the world who bought the devices and same good results every time. Please look into this therapy.
***@**** - Please email
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi, Its been interesting reading all articles within this forum. Can feel for everyone with disc problems.
I'm 33 Caucasian male and correct weight for my height, healthy and physically fit. Have suffered from back issues since 1990, could of been down to Karate for 6 years and bad posture when growing up!, nothing major at first, manly went chiropractors who basically made it worse, tried acupuncture, sports massage, pysio, TENS, you name it but pain came and went. September 2000 had a coughing fit one morning before going to work and my L5/S1 disc prolapsed. Was unsure what had happened left leg was like a dead weight but with eructating pain. Luckily had Private health care and saw top neurosurgeon in London straight away. He recommended MRI followed by Facet infiltration injection and epidural. Totally hopeless, so 2 weeks later had micro disceptomy. Done the job but was out of action for 3 1/2 months, unable to travel to work. Started managing rehab by correct posture,ergonomics, stretching, pysio and pilates and then built up to exercise, to an extent that I could start up Kick Boxing and be fairly successful at it. June 24th 03 started getting lumbar back pain, with pain down the right leg, within a week rushed to hospital due to right leg paralysed and urinal problems. L5/S1 right side prolapsed again, been on painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs plus already had epidural. Looking to have op as still bad, but can't afford three months off again as just started new job, so rules out microdiscectomy and heard negative response regarding Fusing and Chemonucleosis. Currently looking at Endoscopic Discectomy, Percutaneous Diskectomyor or laminectomy. A) do they do this in uk/europe or only the states? B) Any one had experience with either one? Thanks
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