Thanks for using the forum. I am happy to address your questions, and my answer will be based on the information you provided here. Please make sure you recognize that this forum is for educational purposes only, and it does not substitute for a formal office visit with a doctor.
Without the ability to examine and obtain a history, I can not tell you what the exact cause of the symptoms is. However I will try to provide you with some useful information.
There is a material that cushions the space occurring between the vertebra (bones of the spine). This material may sort of be squished out from in between the two bones; this is called a herniated disc. The disc may push on surrounding structures, namely the spinal cord and/or the nerves exiting from the spinal cord. Most often, it is the nerves that are pressed on, and not the spinal cord itself.
In most people, the pain of a herniated disk resolves over 4-6 weeks. The most severe pain actually eases up within 1-2 weeks. Only a minority of people every require surgery. With time, the amount of disk that has herniated shrinks and with time resolves completely in most people. Therefore, for the majority of people, non-surgical treatment is the first option. This treatment may include medications (non-steroidals such as advil), sometimes steroids if there is swelling (edema), temperature therapy (hot or cold packs), stretching and controlled physical therapy, muscle relaxants, and so on, these are best prescribed by an experienced physician, each has its own indications.
In a minority of patients, surgery needs to be done urgently. This often is the case when the herniated disc is pressing on the spinal cord itself. Surgery is emergent so that permanent spinal cord injury does not occur. Another indication for urgent surgery is if there evidence that a nerve is being compressed on to the point that its function is impaired. Symptoms suggesting the need for urgent surgery includes muscle weakness, loss of bowel or bladder control, loss of sensation, particularly in the pelvis and severe and progressive pain.
In some patients, after conservative non-surgical therapy is tried for 4-6 weeks and the pain is still severe or if other symptoms/indications arise, surgery is the next step.
One means of assessing whether or not the nerve being pressed on by your herniated disc is impaired is a test called an EMG/NCS which assesses how fast the nerve conducts electricity and how the muscle responds. This type of test is done by neurologists in most centers.
If you have not done so, an MRI of the lumbar spine is necessary. The question remains if you have canal stenosis (narrowing of the region where your spinal cord is) or if you have a radiculopathy from herniated disc.
It would be best for you to discuss surgical and non-surgical options with your physician.
Thank you for this opportunity to answer your questions, I hope you find the information I have provided useful, good luck.
Thank you so very much for getting back to me and for so much detail. I went to a doctor here in the small town where I live and all she gave me was Osteo Panadol for the pain but she couldn't tell me what it may be. I will try and find a better doctor in the city and see what I can do. I have also being going to a chiropractor but this hasn't helped me and the pain is quite bad at night times or whenever I sit. Anyway thanks so very much as at least I now know what it could be.
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