I had a herniated disc in 2008 (L5-S1) and suffered for five grueling months of different treatments before having surgery.
If you've found out that you have a herniated disc (also known as a slipped disc or ruptured disc), then you have a few options to resolve this painful problem. I began to notice the pain from my herniated disc (L5-S1) late last year, and it took almost six months of trial and error to have it corrected.
1. Wait It Out
Mildly herniated discs often resolve themselves by taking it easy (avoiding any exercise except walking). Natural movement of the disc between vertebrae, and flow of fluids in and out of the disc material, will allow the disc to assume its normal shape and heal.
If your sciatic pain gets slowly better, then easing up on your activity is probably what you need.
2. Spinal Steroid Shots
Corticosteroids injected into the disc area can also help contract the disc material and also the tissues surrounding it, reducing pressure on the sciatic nerve and easing up on the pain.
The injection is a quick and relatively painless outpatient procedure. They sedate you intravenously and give you two quick injections to your spine. I felt a sudden shock of pain each time but it didn't last. Afterward, you're still a little groggy from the sedation, but within an hour or two, you're back to normal. You will probably have to take the day off work as I had to.
These normally come in a series of three, each requiring your health insurance's approval. Your doctor will evaluate how you feel about 10 days after the procedure. Your pain might get worse 3-4 days after the injection but should improve by day 10.
3. Spinal Decompression
Another method you'll find a lot of offers for on the Internet is spinal decompression, using a table like the DRX9000. This table, similar to a traction table, puts you in two harnesses: one around your torso, and another around your pelvis. It then pulls each in opposite direction, in order to pull on the spine, and allow your vertebrae to separate and allow your disc to recede.
I don't know how much of the marketing pitch is scientifically proven - there's a noticeable paucity of peer-reviewed data on its effectiveness - but if you're feeling desperate and really want to avoid surgery, then I suggest at least looking into it (although I do not recommend it personally; I tried it but discontinued treatment after 9 sessions).
4. Surgery (Discectomy)
This was the final step in my personal dealings with my herniated disc, and the only one that offered any relief. It's been about 6 weeks since my procedure, and I have had no sciatic pain whatsoever.
The procedure is done on an outpatient basis and takes the neurosurgeon about 45 minutes.
- You are put under twilight (full) anesthesia.
- The surgeon makes an incision in your back, about 3 inches tall. He/she cuts muscle and surrounding tissues to get to your spine.
- In most cases, he/she performs a laminectomy; a cut to the lamina (fan-shaped bone) is made so that the surgeon can safely reach the disc and spinal cord.
- The spinal cord is pulled aside, and the surgeon cuts off the disc material that has herniated. The disc material is not spongy or jelly-like; it has the consistency of raw steak.
- The spinal cord is placed back and your muscles and skin are sutured closed.
- You spend about a couple of hours in the recovery room where you regain consciousness, and then another 1-2 hrs in the outpatient ward.
I personally had a successful surgery. I did not feel pain at all. There was definite soreness in my lower back for a few days (from the cut-through muscles) and I wasn't able to stoop down or lift anything heavier than 10 lbs for a couple of weeks.
I took a week and a half off work, but most of that was weaning myself off a very, very heavy dosage of painkillers I was on for months.
Please read ktrapp's article on a microdiscectomy (she discusses her son's experience with an L4/L5 herniation and his eventual surgical procedure).
Read More From Patientslounge
Of course, my main suggestion is finding a highly competent spine doctor and neurosurgeon, and following their recommendations.
If you live in the East Bay of California, I would highly recommend these two doctors:
- Spine specialist: Dr Michael Park - offices in Oakland and Lafayette
- Neurosurgeon: Dr Gordon Tang - office in Berkeley, near Alta Bates Medical Center
I couldn't possibly have been happier with their quality of care.
Update: Almost 9 Years Later
It's been almost nine years since I had my discectomy, and, fingers crossed, I'm still feeling fine. Every once in a while I'll feel the faintest glimmer of the same, shooting pain, but it passes fairly quickly. My scar is also fading a little bit, but it is still visible and probably always will be.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Kate Swanson from Sydney on November 03, 2013:
When I originally herniated my disc, I was discouraged from having surgery and take a "wait and see" approach. It took a year for it to settle down - but it did. During that time I found massage really, really helpful because mine was in my neck, and it triggered severe spasms in my shoulders, head and arms which caused a lot of additional pain. Keeping that under control made life much more bearable! I also discovered reflexology which helped my pain enormously - though it certainly doesn't work for everyone.
I'm glad I didn't have the surgery then, even though it felt like an awfully long twelve months, because I now understand that once you've had surgery on one disc, you're far more likely to develop problems in the discs above and below.
I've finally had surgery over 20 years later, this time I needed a laminectomy to remove bone which grew as a result of the original injury so I didn't have a choice. So far so good.
Lor's Stories from Central New Jersey on March 25, 2013:
My surgeon will not operate on anyone unless the spine is being compromised. Usually he operates on unstable spines because it usually means serious risk of paralysis.
In July they had to fuse my c-spine again from the skull to c- 6
I have no discs Amy more in that area. Just metal. And while I'm not happy not being able to move my neck... I'm better than I was.
Lor's Stories from Central New Jersey on March 22, 2013:
I had my first discetomy in 1999. Then in 2000. 2001, and then in 2002
Mind you it was on l4- 5.
I had the pain injections too.
By 2004 I was in so much pain there was nothing I thought could be done
The pain ran down both legs and then I went for one last consult. In 2004 my doctor found spinal cord instability and pointed me to a spine surgeon. He took one look at my MRI and I was having surgery.
When they got in the cord the neurosurgeon just touched the area and the entire lumbar area moved. They had to fus with an allograft and bone from a cadaver. During the surgery they found crazy glue! The last surgeon who operated only put the broken fragment back on wit Crazy glue. After the fusion I never had pain in my back .
ernest on March 09, 2013:
@oberbreckling. Me too. Surgery was not 100% successful. Insurance company pushed me back to work before the disc was healed by cutting off benefits in spite of letters from several doctors. Now a new MRI shows a large herniation in the same spot. My mobility is very limited. Now I wait for round 2.
ladyprudence on December 23, 2012:
So grateful to come across this site. I am almost 40 and have been dealing with herniated disc problems since i was 18yrs old. I've been well educated on preventing, maintaining and coping with my disc problems. Re-injuring discs need to be prevented although throughout the years its easy to do if you fall off the wagon of exercising and keeping good posture. My recent episode was about 6 months ago when i herniated my L5 again with a new finding of herniated my S1 as well. Although pt (mckenzie therapy) has done wonders in the past, it didn't this time around with my S1. It made it worse. I've been on nsaid's, muscle relaxers, and tramadol for the pain. When you have sciatica running down both legs those medications do next to nothing! I was in the worst pain ever but worked thru it with tens unit, heat, etc. Recently my back isn't in pain but i still have symptoms in my legs from disc material in path of nerve route. Its extruded material is worrying me that I will end up with surgery! My disc herniated out and up my back. I opted out of spinal injections and have been taking gabapentin for nerve pain and numbness witch does help a lot. Just been doing some research on procedures, noninvasive methods, etc to figure out what my next step will be. Having a site like this is informative and reassuring and keeps options open with both positive and negative feedback. My issue is that I am not really happy with my doctor. I hate to start all over, but looks like i have no choice.
Morf114 on July 01, 2012:
I herniated L4 L5 in 2008 i knew straight away when it happened that it wasn't right i had been in military 3 years prior and my body wasn't what it was but my mind thought it was. 6 months later i had my disectomy, surgeon even gave me the piece he cut out it was like a slice of bacon 5 mm wide and 30-40mm long.
It was such a relief to finally be rid of the pain i was off work for 18 weeks after 20 weeks i had to have another mri as the pain never went away, the mri scan confirmed that the operation was a success and it was comman to still loose feeling in leg many months after operation.
One day i realised i couldn't feel the pain anymore and was over the moon with joy started to do things again id not dared do because i felt my back was still damaged.
Its now halfway through 2012 and 6 months ago while sat down i suddenly felt real bad pain again down my leg, i thought nothing of it must just be a nerve or old feeling i used to have when mri showed everything was ok back in 09, this pain started to get really bad so i decided to contact my case manager about the incident in 08, as its covered for a lifetime by my employer at the time who im still employed by and guess what it slipped again L4 L5 cant wait for my next op !! one thing people told when i hurt my back the first time was it will be with you for the rest of your life and i didn't agree with them thought i was superhuman!
I ride a lot of DH and MX and while your still moving you don't feel it but once you stop you definitely know you're alive.
murrayjuice on June 22, 2012:
I have just recently had a lumbar microdiscectomy, i found the opp went well for me, although my surgeon, when i asked her how the opp went, she replied saying, yeah well umm yeah i went ok, which filled me with hope and joy, haha. she explained to me that the disk she operated on was the biggest prolapse she has seen in 30 years of being a surgeon and its done a lot of damage the the nerve it was trapping, it was 4 weeks ago, the back of my leg is completely numb but i have got good movement and no more back pain, i still have pain in my leg when i stretch it. i am 20 years old, i want to get back to my life after 4 years of pain, can anyone tell me if they had a similar situation after surgery and if the feeling came back in their leg and if you got back to regular living, e.g heavy impact sport such as skateboarding????? cheers
Josh on May 12, 2012:
Acupuncture is INCREDIBLE at healing herniated discs. IT WORKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But not all acupuncturists are created equal. It must be done by someone who truly knows what they're doing. Make sure they are certified and have had 4 years of training. Having acupuncture done by a massage therapist, physiotherapist or chiropractor is not going to help you. So please don't fall for sham or bunk acupuncture. Look for a recognized acupuncturist who specializes in TCM and go all the way. Do not give up when you don't see results right away. Results will come!!! You will thank me. Back surgery is only a few decades old. Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years successfully treating spinal disorders when surgery didn't exist.
Lilly on March 29, 2012:
I currently have a herniation between my L4 and L5 disc and the pain is horrible when it gets bad. Surgery should be the very last resort. I will share with you what my spinal surgeon told me, these are his words, "it should be your life goal to avoid my knife". I took that seriously. He is one of the "best" surgeons on the west coast. 90% of herniation's heal on their own but they require time. I know when the pain kicks in I feel like I might be one of the 10% who isn't going to heal but I get through it and try to think positive. If you are looking for a quick fix it isn't going to happen. It takes time for your body to heal. Working out is great for your body but make sure you're doing the correct exercise. Biking is one of the worst exercises, you are hunching over and putting pressure on your spine and pushing your discs out even more, which is the last thing you need.
Check out this site www.drbookspan.com, she has great advice. Fixing my posture has helped me a lot and I never thought I had a posture problem. I bought her book from Amazon and it's really useful, it makes sense. More sense than some of the crazy things I have heard from doctors.
I purchased an inversion table as I have heard it helps.
I'll come back to this site and let everyone know how it works. Hang in there.
Staccig08 on March 06, 2012:
Hello every =one.. so about 4 months ago I posted on this board and at the time I was in such horrid state. My sciatica from my L3-L5 & S1 herniations had me in bed for 4 straight months... Not fun for an outgoing 28 yr old. Well in october I purchesed an inversion table, and let me tell you 3 weeks on that was my holy answer.... Since october 30, 2011 I have not had a spasm or pain or sciatica. Thank god. I am back to work with my preschoolers and keeping active. Exercise, bike rides, stretches.. I HIGHLY recommend inversion therapy... I was in horible shape, beyond depressed. Back problems are for life, but I feel like I've got a second chance.. Just thought I would share...
laneylou on February 11, 2012:
hi,ive been suffering over 3 years now, and the pain just got worse in this last year, i feel like i have no life anymore, this seems to run my life. i had my first injection on the 23rd january, if anything i would say its now worse. the injection was not as bad as i thought i did feel silly really afterwards. 3rd a 5th day after the injection the pain seem to get worse.. ive started to get very depressed an in tears a lot. my Dr as suggested that i have surgery, but not really sure if i should. can anyone suggest some pain releif that can help with pain, i was taking Lycra but didn't like it, now im just taking co-codamol which is not very good. i don't want to take any pain relief that can be adictive..
ALLD4Y on February 04, 2012:
xaid- surgery sounds like a gamble that seem to favor VERY few... I've talked to many people who have had back surgeries, and many said to AVOID it for as long as you can walk... I know a guy who had back surgery and he's bearly getting around with a walker... haven't done surgery myself, and I have pains I never knew existed, nevertheless, i'm still walking...i'm no doctor but my best advice would be to try and stay proactive with low impact exercises like walking, or even better, swimming... Laying down in bed all the time is the worst thing you could do...
Xaid on February 01, 2012:
Im a 28yrs old boy and i have been experiencing lower back pain from last 7 years n beleive i haven't been able to live my life since then.. It has been like hell.! Before 3 years an MRI scan showed DISC PROLAPSE at L5-S1 AND A BULGE AT L4-L5. Before öne week i had a pain n spasm episode at a metro station in Delhi with some luggages, i cudnt even move thanx to a metro employee he helped me to outside..and im at home since last 1 week no work at all..! I nef some help from u guys..tell me what should i do to start living again.?
ALLD4Y on January 29, 2012:
Eastcoast... yeah im not joking at all... it is NOT rare at all for people like me to pop pills like this you know... Its nothing to brag about, but YES it is the TRUTH i do take that many - only on days i get those extreme muscle spasms tho - these extreme pains FORCE me to do this... the tingly numb sensation in BOTH my legs and buttocks (going to the front of my foot and toes), that pain is NOTHING compared to these muscle spasms... sometimes tho my legs get so numb, i can't move them, its like they're cramped and stuck in a locked position its quite weird... but like i said, its still nothing compared to muscle spasms... the first time i was prescribed 20 of those knockoff white crappy vicodins and i had to go back to the doctor the very next day (i had terrible muscle spasms the entire day)... and I'm not the only person who does this, i know MANY who take just as many, and a select few who actually take MORE... a co worker of mine has a bulge L4/L5 he's just like me, popping 5-6 at a time... He's pretty addicted too he literally can't go a single day without pills, as i ONLY take them on days i have my muscle spasms... another guy i know (i work with) i sold 20 blue vicodins (650x10) to him, and i saw him pop 10 of them right before my eyes... he constantly asks for pills, and if you met him, you would never know how crazy this dude is when it comes to popping pills, he also has a bad back and a bad shoulder as well... muscle spasms are no joke my doctor told me i should actually consider surgery considering the nature of my spasms... I've had them as frequent as every 2 minutes, maybe 10-20 second episodes of pure sharp pains and a definite electrical shocking sensation, and its like the pain comes when it pleases (i can't stop it)... sometimes it'll be a day... but I've had it last as long as 3-4 days...
I told my mother how many pills I've been taking to ease the pain and she begged me to just stop... i have not taken a single pill for the last 2 days but i have yet to experience my next spasm... At this point, I'm actually going to start praying because seems like he's the only one who can heal/keep it at bay.
I never knew the human body could ever produce a pain so excruciating and annoying... it certainly does NOT stop me from living life. Ive got a wife to support and a kid to feed and failure (or suicide) is NOT an option for me... thanks for acknowledging my post and giving me a heads up about liver failure. I'm very much aware, at the same time, i just see so many people with the same exact pains, popping the same amount of pills, it just "seems quite normal."
my mom let me know - her exact words - "YOUR KIDNEYS/LIVER WILL FAIL ONE DAY, EXPECT TO BE GOING TO THE DOCTORS FOR DIALYSIS IF YOU DON'T STOP"
East Coast on January 28, 2012:
@ALLD4Y - I hope you aren't actually taking that much Vicodin. I've been worried about you since reading this! From what I have read, an overdose of Vicodin (or acetaminophen) can result in liver damage or death. I know you are in pain, but please do some research and see what the dangers of taking too many Vicodins involve. I hope you are feeling better.
ALLD4Y on January 25, 2012:
Thanks rootsgal... I'm buying a bike with my tax returns... My best friend had a microdiscectomy and he told me to hold off... he told me his pain has actually gotten worst (he's same age as me, 27) and they are even recommending him to do another surgery. As i look at the big picture, the irony that this is my best friend with the exact same injury informs me NOT to go through with surgery (We BOTH have L4/L5 and L5/S1 herniation tears)...
im so fearful for surgery, as i can't bear the thought to be in MORE pain than i am in right now... these spasms i have are no joke... like i said i fall flat to the ground during my episodes, its paralyzing... i down vicodins like m&ms (i take 6-8 pills at a time, each 650 x 10 hydrocodone) I'm not trying to be a drug addict, i don't fiend for them like a crackhead either, but the onset pain of a back spasm is so intense, I've GOT to be high to not feel it... i usually take 5-8 of them in the morning and 5-8 at night (depending on pain)... I've taken upwards of 30 pills a day no joke BECAUSE of pain...
Its crazy how this injury changed my lifestyle... like i said, i was a VERY active person up until i had this injury... sports, you name it i did it... basketball, football, baseball, running, skateboarding, and my FAVORITE-surfing (I'm more into a lot of other ocean sports)... i have a wife and a 1 year old son and my back is so debilitating, of coarse, it affects that as well...
man, im not going through with surgery but if this pain stays forever, ill be popping pills till i die... no joke
Kristin Trapp from Illinois on January 23, 2012:
Thanks for the additional details about your recovery. We're in the process of trying to get the microdiscectomy surgery scheduled. I hope he has as good of a recovery as you, especially since he is a very active person like you - although sadly for him, I think it may be time to hang up his skateboard. Thanks again.
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on January 23, 2012:
ktrapp: I feel for your son. I will say from my experience (micro)discectomy was a huge success. It is now almost 4 years after surgery for me, and I have no pain. I even ran in the Bay to Breakers race (7 1/2 miles) last year!
Recovery was rather quick for me. I was out of the office for a little more than a week. I could sit more comfortably immediately after surgery; lifting things, bending over, and exercising is what took about a week or so to be able to do (lifting VERY lightweight things, bending VERY slowly, etc.) I personally do not regret the surgery at all.
At the time, I had an HMO so getting approval did go very slowly.
Kristin Trapp from Illinois on January 21, 2012:
livelonger - Ironically, I found your hub on pain relief for a herniated disc through Google and followed your link on that hub to this one. Both herniated disc hubs gave me the "real life" kind of information about treating herniated discs that I was seeking.
My son has a herniated disc with all the accompanying leg pain which has now spread to his foot. He is off at college and is absolutely miserable. We were planning on having him come home for the injection, but after speaking to the orthopedic surgeon yesterday I think he is just going to bypass trying injections and have the microdiscectomy surgery. Hopefully, I can get it arranged asap, if the insurance doesn't wind up being a bottleneck.
Of course, we have concerns with him missing too many college classes. He is an exercise science major so luckily we had the forethought not schedule any physical types of classes this semester knowing that his back issues might not resolve on their own.
Based on your experience as a discectomy patient, how long after having surgery do you think he will be able to sit comfortably? I'm concerned about this since I don't want him to miss too many classes. I am not sure though, how the microdiscectomy compares to the discectomy other than the incision being smaller. Thanks for any input you can give.
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on January 15, 2012:
Rootsgal: Your experience might be different, but that was my experience.
Rootsgal on January 15, 2012:
"The injection is a quick and relatively painless outpatient procedure. They sedate you intravenously and give you two quick injections to your spine. I felt a sudden shock of pain each time but it didn't last. Afterwards, you're still a little groggy from the sedation, but within an hour or two you're back to normal."
LOL...your kidding RIGHT? The clinic I go to SEDATES NOBODY. I had to beg them for the next time, and they have obliged although reluctantly....I do not think they are helpful at all, and it appears that this thread and the doctors on this forum have their own agenda....I am unsubscribing from any more threads to my email.
I am not learning anything, or gaining any helpful information.
Good luck to those who have back injuries~
Kristine on January 14, 2012:
I had surgery and I do not regret it at all. I have DDD, and an annular tear now. 3 discs have no fluid as well, which means they are squished on top of each other.
My surgery was a disectomy NOT a fusion, which is what they want me to have now....that is something I am holding off on since the levels above an below eventually get worse.
Radio frequency is something to look into. I had that done on 5 levels of my neck (after an anterior cervical fusion) and I have to say, Radio Frequency WORKS!
Good luck to everyone and remember, we are all different with different symptoms and levels of pain, so do what is right for YOU!
laser spinal surgery on January 14, 2012:
hubpages, thanks for putting this up in such an easy terminology. it has made me understand all about disc herniation managemant. im suffering from minor disc bulge for about two years now, feeling fine with conservative treatment. i suggest, a few everyday precautions and moderate lifestyle modifications works like a wonder and surgery should be kept as a last resort!
Rootsgal on January 13, 2012:
Try riding a bike if you want to exercise that badly. I would get the surgery since you are so young. 2 herniations, is pretty terrible.
The spasms are your body trying to protect the area of the herniation. They are the WORST pain ever, I have that as well.
ALLD4Y on January 12, 2012:
i was once the most active person until 2 herniated discs put me out of commission.. An MRI showed L4 L5, and L5 S1 annular tear (herniation)... I have not done surgery as of yet, but at this point I'm actually considering it... I'm not overweight, and I'm still pretty young at 27 but the pain i feel in my back is extremely excruciating... I'd also like to note that i have a very high pain tolerance, as i have broken numerous bones and have gotten stitches more times than i could possibly count... I remember asking myself on my 21st birthday (I'm now 27) will my back ever get better??? My back has actually gotten worst over the years, it spasms out of control when i have an episode... I'm not exaggerating when i say the pain literally feels like someone is stabbing me in the back with a butcher knife with an electric current running through it... the onset pain episodes are very debilitating, my wife sees my fall to my knees wincing in pain pretty consistently.... I'm very much active as well, but my back limits me from playing any sports/activity that requires running or jumping... I'm petrified of the pain so much I've stopped my love for playing basketball, and even casual runs around the block... I pretty much do a lot of swimming and running, although my bad episodes seem to always come... Don't know what to do but I'm VERY curious to see how many success stories there are out there from surgery (because I'm considering it at this point!!!)
GClark from United States on January 07, 2012:
Excellent information in this Hub! Voted Up. I have been dealing with incredible pain for over two months and found this article very helpful. GClark
Marty on January 03, 2012:
Last Jan I took up running, big mistake as within 6 weeks I had a slipped disk although at that time I didn't know what it was & continued to run through the pain. 6 months later I had an episode of pain so bad I couldn't think let alone move & only very strong drugs touched it. 2 Days later the pain had completely gone & I was scheduled an mri which happened about 6 weeks later. The results showed a large protrusion on one of the lower disks (I forget which one 5:1?)& the doctor I saw after said he was surpised it wasn't causing me pain as apparently it should have been! Anyway 6 months has passed without major incident, the odd twinge aside, and I am due back to see him next tuesday, however today I stepped off a large step & felt a small amount of pain, its basically across my lower back, it feels muscular & is by no means painful, but I can feel it if you know what I mean! Obviously I am concerned that it will get worse but could this just be a pulled muscle which has me thinking the worst? I f*king hope so! Today's pain is all the way across my lower back, doesn't feel painful as such rather just a sensation, difficult to describe. Anyone else experienced similar & can make an educated guess as to what ive done/how best to combat it?
BG on December 20, 2011:
Try taking the epidural first and see how it works. I had a disc herniation too and tried all different exercises and heat and cold pack but nothing worked. One injection and the pain was alleviated immediately. I continued with physical therpay at the same time and am nearly cured now. Hope it works for you too. I really feel your pain.
Rootsgal on December 14, 2011:
You cannot paint such a broad brush over one experience. Just because he may have gotten a sub standard neurosurgeon OR had a bad outcome, does not mean everyone will.
What is "older" to you? People take different care of themselves than others. I have seen healthier 70-80 year old people, that were more in shape than someone in their 30's.
I just had radio frequency on 5 levels of my neck. (cervical) It hurt worse for about 10 days....now, I feel FANTASTIC. I give thanks everyday for being referred to a great pain clinic with a gifted pain procedure doctor. He is excellent and has always done right by me.
ms. Gipson on December 14, 2011:
I've got to tell you out there if you are an older person, do not have back surgery, my dad, felled from a truck . he was in & out of the hosp., he would stay months at a time in there. he went from 250 lbs. down to 80 lbs at his death in 1963. All from having a back disc. please search out the Doctors & if possible forget the surgery. this was done in Dayton, Oh
East Coast on December 13, 2011:
First I want to test this out and see if this will publish.
Rootsgal on December 13, 2011:
WORN OUT, If I were you, I would ask about this: Percutaneous endoscopic laser disectomy. It is much less invasive, BRAND NEW and the recover time is a breeze. Herniated means it is OUT, and not much hope of it going back in. That area in particular is VERY painful.
A TENS UNIT cannot hurt, it just interrupts that pain signal from getting to your brain. I have one. Ice is good too, but it is NOT a cure.
Try alternating heat and ice and a HOT epsom salts bath for inflammation reduction.
I would consider the surgery...I had it and it helped.
I hope you find a doctor you trust, and that is something you will know right away. If you do not like your doctor seek a second opinion from another neurosurgeon not a chiropractor.
Worn out: on December 12, 2011:
Hi All, This is the best site thus far concerning info. from patients- not just opinion's. I was diagnosed by an MRI with a large L5-S1 disc herniation that is pressing on the root sleeves and caused a 8.2 cm swelling. The pain is unbearable most of the day. The pain management doc told me to use a brace and a Tens machine. The chiro said no Tens , no brace - walk and use ice. So, far nothing haS relieved the pain- even 4 different pain meds. I am scheduled for an epidural and am seeing an orthopedic next week. Here is the dilema- there seems to be conflicting advice from different doc's and also fear to have surgery from horror stories. I am glad that some of you have experienced good results with various tests and surgeries. It is conforting to know that there are others out there which are trying to deal with this issue and not being told -oh yeah- just wait for it to go away. Thanks for the help and advice - it does help my emotional state. Good luck and keep persevering. Donna
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on December 09, 2011:
Fed up: I sincerely hope the discectomy spells the end to your long-term misery. It did for me, and now 3 1/2 years later, I still have no pain. I even ran in a 12k footrace earlier this year without incident! I completely agree with you about gaining new respect for people who struggle with disability...and addiction (painkillers!)...so that's my silver lining from the experience.
Fed up too on December 08, 2011:
Hello again Livelonger as well as everyone else..
The verdict is in I will be having surgery tomorrow, a discectomy. I'm excited for this to hopefully be over with along with the prospect of relief, but at the same time I'm very anxious and scared, rightfully so. I had a second MRI on Nov 5th and basically my situation hasn't changed, actually based on the report it shows severe spinal stenosis opposed to mild (1st MRI) and I have multiple disc protrusions, and a paracentral disc herniation at L5/S1 along with nerve compression of S1 and S2. Apparently I have an extra vertebrae which is why they refer to the nerve compression going as far down as S2. So with all that being said my surgeon and many other doctors involved feel this is my only option at this point.
I have been dealing with this for a long time (over 6mths) I've done the injections, the PT, the massage therapy, the exercises, the rest, the meds and the faith. Unfortunately I am part of the 10% club that will not get better on my own. Different strokes for different folks...I will say one thing though, out of all of this I have a new found respect for people who deal with disabilities daily, who struggle with sickness and pain. My patience for people has changed as well as my compassion.
Thank you again Livelonger for creating such an informative blog and thanks to everyone that shared stories and allowed others to vent, it truly helped me in so many ways.
tamtamr on December 08, 2011:
Hey Folks, Just wanted to share my story. Had a huge herniation on L5/S1 after over doing activities. I am really active person and skinny but I guess I lifted something which caused it. And then for 2 months, misdiagnosed. By the time got my MRI, it was too late and disc was way too out. First month was brutal, but 3 out of 4 Docs says rest is the best medicine so I tried as much as I could. Did not lift my little kids at all. After that started showing improvement and was able to sit for longer period and pain started going away. Now after 8 months, I am in much better shape. I do get pain back when I do stupid thing like lift inappropriately or something but better than before. My advice to you guys is wait, rest and give some time. I am 36 years old. I am hoping to get my final MRI soon.
Rootsgal on December 02, 2011:
I agree with Erica. I had a great cranio sacral massage therapist, but she died of breast cancer. Then I found an acupuncturist, but he left the office and I have nobody now.
I did find a pain clinic in my area, and had radio frequency done on 5 levels of my neck after an anterior cervical fusion. IT WORKED! I have ZERO pain in my neck for now. This sometimes, needs to be repeated in about 8 months, but we shall see.
For my low back, I am waiting on another MRI, and facet blocks in the L4-5, S-I joint December 19th. If that works I can get off all these pain meds for the first time in over 10 years!
Thanks Dr. Grahling for your GIFT, and for nudging Dr.Kost along to get my appointment moved up TWO MONTHS!
Erica on November 30, 2011:
I have 2 herniated discs - L4/L5, L5/S1, and have been managing for 3 years. Steroid epidurals have been effective at taking extreme edge off the pain, and Percoset has been somewhat effective helping me get a little sleep every night. As a hopeful antidote to so many in pain: we will always struggle with our "bad backs" but there should be and can be times of tolerable if not eliminated pain. My Physical Therapist (4th one I've had) recommends press-ups for externally herniated discs. Lie on floor and press up with arms - keep pelvis, buttocks and legs completely relaxed, it's okay to feel pressure in low back. Do 10 reps about 3 times per day. My PT also works on my muscles to get the muscle to separate from the nerve...my pain is down my left side so he literally starts at my left shoulder and painfully works his way down to my ankle, also comes in through my stomach to loosen my hip flexors. With regular visits to him, plus the exercises, I've twice been able recover from intense, tooth-rattling, nearly-passing-out pain. I'll never run again, but I've been able to hike, swim and be with my kids and feel happy. I hope for most if not all of you, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Find the right PT - the most critical element of my care. Good luck.
mary kathlleen on November 18, 2011:
hi great people for support and info lumber too bad for s thanurgery pain management for 1 yr lowered potassium ended in strke ward lost almost all hair burnt 10 nerves cannot take any kind pain meds physical therapy pain from morning till nght i appreciate eveyone sharing friends sort of dissapear it reakes havick on home life
Rootsgal on November 15, 2011:
I had an L-4-5 disectomy in 1998.(W.Comp) I then had left sided bursitis, due to my gait, and some S-I pain. I was given cortisone injections that worked on the bursitis but not so much on the S-I joint.
My back went out a couple days ago for no reason. I do have DDD, and some discs that are "grey" meaning they are dry and disintegrating. WONDERFUL....so, now I am sitting on one of those donut pillows, swallowing avinza, (morphine) oxycodone, gabapentin, norflex and lyrica. I tried some exercises I read on another part of this site, and I heard popping today, on the left side of my S-I....I fear that something worse has happened. I cannot sit AT ALL without this pillow, walking only in the house. I tried going into the pharmacy, but had to hold onto the counter as my back was buckling. That is what is the scariest. My spine is literally quivering.
I am thinking I need an MRI to see what is going on, but I cannot get in to see my pain mgmt doctor until 11/29. I guess I have no choice but to take HOT epsom salts baths, altering that with, ICE.
I use to be able to ride my bike on flat terrain, but until someone invents a pillow bike seat, I am unable to do anything but wait.
Thanks for any help.
StuckInBed on November 12, 2011:
Im a 36 year old female with a herniated disk. I have had four flare ups in the last year but my current one is the worst. Right now I can even stand or walk without help. I'm on Oxy for pain plus steroids and muscle relaxers. The Oxy helps but it doesn't make it go away enough for me to be able to move around. I have had back surgery before. When I was in college I was in an accident where I crushed a vertebra and fractured two so I'm not sure that I can do the decompression machine or the epidural shot. I'm starting to think my only option is surgery but I am still unsure of whether to do it. I'm also wondering how long it took people to be able to stand/walk after their back 'goes out'. I keep reading that moving around is better for recovery but it is so hard to even stand up.
shell on November 11, 2011:
I am glad to have found this post. I'm 20 years old and in enough lower back pain that I end up in tears day after day. I've gone to 5 doctors every time they say its a muscle spasm and they throw me on a medication. I've asked for tests and they refuse saying its not needed. I've tried Exercising, stretching, chiropractor and yoga and absolutely nothing eases the pain. I want to do something with my life but that's hard to do when you can't even get out of bed often.I know this sounds crazy but when I stand up straight I can feel bones in the bottom of my back moving. Any suggestions please?
db on November 08, 2011:
hi i stumbled upon this site while trying to gain some insight on my own pain issues. beginning around may this year i started to have burning pain all across my sacrum with pain just above the sacrum and pain in my butt cheek/leg and calf. i work in health care and attributed this to the repetitive movements of my job as well as heavy lifting at times. my the end of july i couldn't take it anymore. while on the job the pain was unbearable and i sought medical attention..my mri showed a small tear at L4-L5. my dr. thinks its nothing and should be healed already, i cant possibly still have pain from this. i have been to therapy and do exercises on my own. the pain can be severe at times, i cant sit for long periods or stand, i don't sleep, i don't know what else to do at this point. i would appreciate any thoughts or ideas
BG on November 08, 2011:
Got an epidural injection last tuesday and I feel much better. The procedure was so quick and painless that I felt stupid for being so nervous about it. I don't have pain when I try to sit or stand for too long and I can do some stretches I was unable to. I still have some pain left but its much better than before. I'm doing PT, swimming and stretches and exercises everyday. I'm still trying to accpet the fact that it will take some time and nothing will fix it in one day but I think I'm getting there. I have to wait for another week and see if I still have pain and then I can get another epidural shot. I agree that internet horror stories can freak one out and its best to talk to the doctor and to other patients who have had this experience and its really not that bad at all. Kepping my fingers crossed that I may not need another shot but I really wouldn't mind getting one.
Fed up too on November 02, 2011:
I just had an epidurl injection about 2wks ago...I was very anxious, primarily from horror stories floating around the internet. So this was my experience..I had what's called a "Rescue lumbar epidural injection" given in a very general area, my symptoms have changed and I am going for a 2nd MRI to determine where or if the original disk has moved...so this was a way to help with the pain in the meantime...and guess what, its working for the most part...at first slight pain from the freezing needle, I didn't even feel the epidural go in. Then that evening...wow almost complete pain relief...however that was the anesthestic talking..then I had 2-3 days with my "normal pain" maybe a little more painful at times...then I woke up approx 4 days later...with RELIEF...that lasted about 10 hours..I went out for the first time in a long...and by the evening it was all coming back..I took that as a cue to RELAX...and for the last 1wk or so, I'm slowly noticing, I can move around with more ease..taking less pain pills, I can sit longer and walk a little more on the "normal side"...So if I was you stop reading the internet horror stories, everyones expierience is different..and you never know it might be one of the best things you've done in a long time. I still have pain, but its different, I almost feel like this is like a lubricant on a rusty bike chain..helping me get to the next step...Good Luck!
BG on October 27, 2011:
I asked my PT about the decompression machine and he suggested that it was a great idea. The only problem is that its not covered by insurance and costs around $6000. I'm planning to get an epidural injection. Can anyone tell me how painful the procedure is.
5 years in on October 25, 2011:
Depression from the weight of all if this is par for the course. Having dealt with workman's compensation, some of their red tape does not make matters easier. If you are taking pain meds it also enhances depression. Most doctors are aware of this and if you are honest with them they will prescribe something that will help you cope. Additionally drugs like Lyrica and celebrex that treat inflammation have a tendency to enhance depression if you were already prone to it.
Fed up too on October 22, 2011:
Update,I'm on day 5 after getting a "rescue" lumbar epidural injection...and I can honestly say...I'm relatively in no pain. I was very doubtful at first because of all the horror stories floating around the internet, so I had severe anxeity and was so scared that I would have rathered given birth, naturally..lol..The first freezing injection hurt...then I didn't feel anything..walked out of the hospital no different then when I walked in..the first few days it hurt..bad..today I feel pretty dam good...this is a temp solution for the pain...this is not a cure, it will only last anywhere from 1wk - 3mths...as previously noted in the posts herniations take a very long time to heal.
I will say that I am going on about 5 1/2 months of this torture..and I have been everywhere...I saw an ortho surgeon who said that 50% of herniations heal in 3mths and 90% heal in 6mths...for that 10% surgery is sometimes the only option..he told me to have the injection wait it out for a couple of mths then if no change..lets talk...Then I saw my pain MD (anesthesiologist) who performed the injection..he said PT was the worst thing you can do at the beginning for disc herniations and nerve compression....first specialist I beleive..because let me note my troubles started in June 2011 started PT beginning of July..was feeling some relief, then bang..by August couldn't walk again...so I started massage therapy..that gave some temp relief because it helped with the muscle spasm around the site basically helping calm down the inflammation. My remedy has basically been rest..walking (as much as I can)T3's and some basic streching. I am fortunate that I did not have to rush back to work, and I'm still not until I see consistent relief. I work in health care and I have many friends that are MD's. I talk to them daily about my situtation..all have said this is a long road..don't rush anything..do your time now and let your body heal itself with conservative therapy...Don't be a hero because of 1-2 days of pain relief...conclusion, We are all fairly young here...if you do not rehabilitate yourself now, this will be your life..take your time..I know about depression, about feeling inadequate when your a wife, husband, mother father. I know that somedays this feels like you're gonna be like this forever..keeping your mind occupied while your recover is sometimes impossible..but if you can distract yourself and find some paitence I believe that this is not a life sentenace for your body...Different strokes for different folks but listen to what your body is telling you, find and document what releives pain and what aggravates it..keep a log if you can daily...with regards to sitting, lying down positions..keep track of how long you can walk, sit, stand...I know this isn't over for me..but today I'm hopeful and wanted to let everyone know..lol..(I'm from Toronto, health care may be different elsewhere)
BG on October 19, 2011:
Hi Staccig08. I'm not sure how long you have undergoing PT but you need to give it some time as my PT told me that disc herniations take a while to recover so we need to have some patience with it. last weekend, I couldn't even walk for 5 minutes and my back would start hurting and i felt pain down my leg. But I keep working on my stretches and back exercises everyday, sometimes even twice a day. Hang in there, I'm sure you will get through this troubled time soon.
BG on October 19, 2011:
I'm 31 years old and was diagnosed with disc herniation at the L4-5 level. I can understand and really feel what people are talking about in this forum. I must say that a lot of doctors and physical therapists assume things unless you actually bring an MRI to them. I am a very active person and the initial injury started in my pelvic bone which got inflamed in the gym. I did PT for a while and the doctor told me that I was good to go back and exercise. I went to play soccer and injured it immediately. I was really annoyed so i went to a acupucnturist but it didn't work and then I went to another PT and it didn't work. Now I'm back with the original PT and it seems to be getting better. However, please remember that just getting the massage, pain killers etc is not enough. You must religiously do your stretches and core and back strengthening exercises everyday at the PT and at home. Trust me, I know how annoying this can be since I love to exercise everyday and I'm unable to do a lot of things at the moment. So, wishing my best to all of you and a speedy recovery and don't forget those stretches even if it seems like it's not working at the moment.
crystal on October 16, 2011:
I am 26 slipped my l5 disk September 2010 and with physio I healed after3months. This year in June I sneezed and hurt myself again but this time much worst. I spent 3 weeks laying on my left side unable to move at all with out an electric shock feeling in my back. The MRI showed a herniation, and 2separate bulges in the lumbar region. The surgeon said due to me being over weight it was normal and he wont do anything. So now I am taking pain meds everyday waking all night in pain. I am trying to work as a chef and be a mum and wife but this pain is unbearable. My heart goes out to all of you and thanx
Shobana on October 09, 2011:
Thank you for your useful information...I have just been diagnosed with disc herniations at neck and spine...The posts have helped me to adapt as I know what to except..
Staccig08 on October 09, 2011:
Hello everyone, let me tell you I really feel for all of you. I am a 28 yr old f. Who just found out I have 3 herniations L3-S1, I have horrible sciatica that doesn't let me take more then 10 steps without pain. I am now severely depressed I cry all the time and I think my life is over. I have tried chiropractors, pysiotherapy, traction, massage, and now inversion table. Nothing seems to work. I am so unhappy and miss my job as a preschool teacher so much I have come to suicital thoughts. I am just so lost, I hav no idea where to turn to next. Why is sciatica so debilitating????
worker's comp nightmare on October 06, 2011:
I am a 43 year old Chef who fell at work....reported it and after a few days of taking it easy and taking some back and body (exedrine) ended up going to the company immediate care center. They pretty much blew me off and said it was just a muscular skeletal pain and would eventually go away. Well, it didn't. Then they finally referred me to an ortho doc who recommended therapy which work comp allowd a few sessions with no success so back to ortho and then recommended epidural shots...three of them...workers comp said no two. They didn't help! So they recommended a different set of shots...three but workers comp said two....nothing worked so back to the neuro surgeon. He recommended surgery for a herniated disc. This is seven months later and I finally have had surgery with no relief and now its back to therapy for me and tons of pain killers and valium. On top of everything else workers comp won't send my checks. I have had one check in about two months with lots of promises about when the next would be there. They are a bunch of ***** and complained to my company and nobody cares and have never been in trouble at work but I bet you that I will be let go asap. I cry almost every night from the pain...the pills don't work and my wife and daughter has to carry the load....can't pay our bills and can't go to the grocery store. Thank God for my family to help take care of us because nobody else cares. I wish they could experience my pain for just 24 hours. My life is over as I see it. If you are a workers comp person how can you live with yourselves?
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on September 30, 2011:
Fed Up Too: I hope the treatments do work (they work for some, apparently, if insurance companies authorize them), but at least you have a light at the end of the tunnel - 3 months away - if they don't. You should persist until the problem is solved, as difficult as that can feel at times. I'm glad you've developed a bit of a tolerance to the pain, but you should not have to expect to live with that for the rest of your life. My fingers are crossed for you, and thank you for the encouraging words for others that you shared.
Fed up too on September 30, 2011:
Hi livelonger, its Fed up too again...Well not much has changed on my part, I still have severe pain down my leg and in my ankle. I find some relief with a massage but that's just helping the muscle spasm around the nerve compression, and the relief only lasts 1-2 days. I seen an Ortho Surgeon last week and he wants me to wait it out for another 3 months. In the meantime I have an appt for an epidural injection and another MRI. If it doesn't heal on its own then surgery will be the only option. Very scary thought...Still not working as mobility is a thing of the past... still depressed but ultimately I am coming to accept that theres not much I can do. Is it me or does our bodies start to adapt to the pain? I still feel the same pain but honestly I can handle it a little better...its constantly there but I find myself almost ignoring at times ( the weird sensations down my leg) I don't know seems crazy but I think if you have been in a lot of pain for a long time you gain some sort of tolerance for it...a little...well thanks for listening will drop by again with an update...
For everyone else whose is going through a simliar torture..keep your head up,and hold on there is a long road ahead...there is no quick fix...and you will get through it. This is a great page to drop in a vent, many people here can totally relate.
Desimir on September 29, 2011:
This is spinal decompression machine
Google on net
Its very good
I have 5 treatments and the pan is almost gone
I have herniated disc
carl on September 26, 2011:
I hurt my back moving a bed about 10 weeks ago , went to docs who said muscle strain , I was in agony pain number 9/10 went to A&E gave me stronger painkillers and a leaflet , sent me home, went to Chiropractor who after assessment said it was one of the worst he had seen and I had DDD at L4/L5 and L5/S1 and a ruptured or bulging disc and sciatica in right leg and possibly pinched nerve recommended MRI scan, went to my GP with this info and he was not interested recommended me for NHS Physio , went to physio first time and was assessed and given some exercises to do went the following week still in agony and the physio said they cannot treat as there are more than just sprained or week muscles and now waiting for GP to refer me to an Orthopaedic triage.
In the meantime I have continued to see my Chiro and the pain has decreased immensely at its worst now about 6 when sitting no pain at all, gets very painful walking and towards the end of painkiller run.
Painkillers from the GP paracetomal 2 x 4 daily codeine 30mg x 4 daily (stopped these as they make me feel funny) 1 diazepam of an evening and 250mg naproxen twice daily.
Still struggle to sleep and save the naproxen for when I wake at 2 or 3 in the morning.
Paid for a private MRI scan last Friday and the scan shows DDD a 10-12mm herniated/bulging disk and some smaller bulging discs (I get the report this week). I have been off work since 28th August and don’t know if it is ok and safe to return and out up with the pain now that it is easier, but don’t want to end up crippled cannot get professional sensible advice anywhere.
Nick27 on September 01, 2011:
I am 27 years of age and have an L5-S1 disc bulge. the MRI states early signs of degenration and disc bulging. I have had physiotherapy which involved Ultrasond massaging, Interferential currents, Laser therapy and traction (only for 2-3 sittings) for almost 22 sittings. The doctor started some exercising (glides)when i was still in pain and it worsened further, then eventually he stopped both glides and traction. the pain is still continuing and my problem is that i canot take na off from work. my work involves almost 7 hrs of sitting every day. Please tell me if any exercises should be done while still in pain and whether i can still work or i will have to take an off; withjout which it will not cure. My pain goes up to my right leg sometimes which is also accompanied with slight weakness
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on August 30, 2011:
fed up too: I am so sorry about your injuries, but I am really, really glad you got an MRI quickly and will be seeing a surgeon soon. All I can say is consider surgery (it was a godsend for me) but if you're uneasy about that, get a second opinion. I was in unrelenting, inexplicable pain, too, for months, and the only real relief I got was from surgery. Good luck and don't be scared!
Fed up too! on August 30, 2011:
On June 1st of this year I woke up in sevre pain, couldn't walk, sit, use the restroom or even take a take a shower. I went to the ER because the pain was so unbearable and was seen pretty much right away. I was given a painkiller, an injection of a painkiller and was told I was having a muscle spasm. I went home not feeling any better and the pain killers were not working. Luckily I work for a Sports Med MD and we spoke many times over the course of a few days. Eventually he made arragemnets for an MRI which I had on June 10. They found degenerated disc disease, an annular tear at L3-L4 with no nerve compression, L4-L5 central canal stenosis with bone spurs? and at L5-S1 posterolateral disc herniation projecting towrds the right with S1 nerve root compression...I am 32 years old. I did not injure myself during an activity or sport. The night before I was out in my backyard enjoying the night and bang I wake up like that. Now it has been 3 months, I have severe leg, ankle and hip pain. I limp around, I have been off work the entire time I take T3's and I do nothing. I have an appt. with an Ortho-surgeon in about 1 1/2 months and I am scared. My entire life has changed and it is depressing. I try to keep my head up but my FMD tells me this is basically a problem for life. I cannot accept this I have 2 kids, I still have a good job (not sure if I can do it again) and I just want my mobility back. I should mention that on 2 occasions prior to this (Nov and Mar) I went to the hospital with similar pain (again a muscles spasm) it did subside after about 1-2 days..but this isn't going away. This hub is great and I would appriciate any input from anyone..opinions, solutions or even just some reasurring words as I am, at times, losing my faith.
Robbia on August 28, 2011:
You didn't mention Endoscopic Discectomy, which is less invasive than the regular Discectomy. Do anyone know anything about it?
pam on August 22, 2011:
i am 42years stopted working cause standig flarsmy pain up i like my job but cant coninued so decide to some treatment'so i had my cortison shot yesterday which was very quick ant really painful i had it in epidural shot i suffered from saitica pain over two years.
Becca on July 14, 2011:
Today I got the news that I have a herniated L5 to my right causing sciatica down my right leg. I have been in excruciating pain for almost two months. The doctors all thought that it was simply a lumbar strain. I am so discouraged at the long road ahead of me. To top it all off, I had to drop my insurance this year for financial reasons so now I'm also diagnosed uninsured. I will have to try to pay for all of this alone. I don't know how because I don't make much and neither does my fiancée. I'm afraid I will lose my job because I have already missed a lot of work lately and worry about the strain of this on my relationship. Today, I almost collapsed at work so I went to the doctor to a competent one, and was diagnosed after a CT scan! I am a pharmacy technician so I am on my feet all day. I don't know what is going to happen from here, but any encouragement and suggestions would be so uplifting. My email is email@example.com Thank you
Max on July 07, 2011:
Hi everyone I had a slip disk L-5 L-6 wen I ws just 17 yrs however I diagnosed it only after a yr now 4 yrs down d lane I have been through hell I don't remember d last time wen I had a gudnite sleep d worst part is that no one real understands wat I'm going through they really don't care nt even my family..I have tried almost everything acupuncture PT massage traction pool excersices..i could write a book on 101 ways to deal slip disk..however these things haven't been much help..m still struggling everyday trying to keep up wid my engineering n pain..I have been pushed to my mental n physical limits its so damn frustating I just can't do anything like a normal person i see guys of my age and it just adds to my misery I don't know hw long it's gonna last by hope it will end one day..just wanted to pour my heart out becoz ull are the only one who would get
me..thx for listening
Marie on March 08, 2011:
My heart goes out to all of you. I hurt my back three months ago and am still feeling the pain especially at nighttime. Reading all of your comments has been so helpful. This may sound wacky to some, but I will send up a prayer for all of you everyday. I've had some wonderful answers in the past..
teresa on March 04, 2011:
I know how u all feel. I| hurt myself at work 1 1/2 yrs ago lifting heavy bags of paper (80lbs) then 1 month later, got a shot of cortisone. it seems to have worked-but only for 4 months. i kept working the whole time, then hurt my shoulder, then was on' light duties", over-reaching, and herniated adisc l5-s1 in my back. WCB says my MRI- shows a herniated disc, but not WHEN it happened and now i am still fightin them for medical and lost wages 1 1/2 yrs. later. i haven't been able to sit, stand or walk for more than 20 mins. at a time.what other options are there? i have tried every painkiller, PT, traction, massage, accupuncture, exercises, and they all hurt. starting to realize that i may just have to live with this pain.Hope everyone else finds somethin that works for them.
bruckupback on February 05, 2011:
Well i never thought this could happen to me. How wrong i was. i have a slipped a disk and a piece of fregment is on the nerve. I have done karate for 14 years, i go to the gym 4 times a week to keep fit and well and work in a school. All i can say is i feel my life is over. I cant do anything, like someone said you cant walk for long you cant sit for long you cant stand for long. I have had this for a few weeks the pain in under control with pain killers now but i had never felt pain like this before in my life. I am seeing a consultant this week and hopefully they can answer my questions. Is there anyone out there who could tell me if i would be able to do my karate again and do my gym activities.I am an upbeat person but this has got me depressed i cant seem to do much at the moment. Can you get your life back as it was before? All help and comments needed to get through this storm.
Umair Huda on December 10, 2010:
o all the guys suffering from the same pain. I'm going through the same problem and I want to help you guys. if anyone need the information. He/she can send me email on my personal email id:
electricsky from North Georgia on December 07, 2010:
Thanks for sharing. Maybe I will look into these methods for back pain.
Jessica on December 04, 2010:
I was in a car accident in Dec. 2007, I herniated my L5-S1. I had laminectomy and diskectomy in Feb 2009, the radiating pain I had in my legs has been gone since the surgery. However, I have the most excruciating pain across my lower back and my muscles constantly feel like I have a very tight rubber band around it. I am in constant stabbing pain. I am currently using Lidoderm patches and Soma at night. Everyday is a struggle, it hurts to sit, hurts to stand, hurts to climb steps, hurts to walk fir long periods of time. I feel like I can't win. Anyone have any advice?
Sheri on October 21, 2010:
I herniated 3 disks L-5 area 3 years ago at work. I did not file for WCB....biggest mistake of my life. I still deal with constant pain every single minute of my life. I had an unexplained flare up this past weekend and am now on day 3 of being off of work due to the pain. I've tried intense physio @ 3-4 times a week, acupuncture, chiropractors (3 different ones), traction, pain meds and muscle relaxers, and pilates. Nothing has helped. I am awaiting a consult with a surgeon. After a one year wait I have an appointment this coming Monday. I empathize with all of your stories. This has been the most painful, frustrating and depressing experience of my life! I was 27 years old at the time of my injury..30 years old now..but feel more like 85 most days. I had to quit my passion of hairdressing and get an office desk job and even a desk job is proving to be difficult. People don't understand what it is like unless they have experienced chronic back pain. Thank you for sharing your stories and reminding me that there are people like me out there. Good luck everyone! And keep persuing your docs for options.
Angela on October 14, 2010:
I would recommend to everyone with lower back herniations to buy a JML product for home work and car. It is a black plastic thing that forces you to sit right i had cauda equina but because i am lucky enough to have a wide spinal canal i did not have trouble with my bowels or bladder three months on i am starting to see light at the end of the tunnell went for PT found it great but JML product is great freely available in supermarkets in Ireland (I'm sure you could find them on the internet) it was the best Eight euro i've ever spentwell good luck to everybody.
Grace on October 12, 2010:
Are you having muscle spasms? Has your dr ever suggested Valium for your spasms? I had a fusion L4-5 S1 seven weeks ago and take Tylenol for pain. Believe me it did not start out that way. What kind of fusion did you have? You are on to many pain meds. Sometimes the combination of those meds can make your pain worse. Sounds unbelievable that pain meds can make your pain worse but often this happens because taking all those meds together can cause rebound pain. It can be uncomfortable weaning your self from the patch. Wishing you relief soon.
Jeff on October 05, 2010:
This is a first for me and I could use help. Brief history: I am 55 with stenosis, disc herniation and degenerative disc diesase. i have had the epidurals along with a laninectomy, fusion (L4-L5-S1) and had a neuromstimulaotr implanted in me (had that removed when i had the fusion). I wear a fentynol patch (75) and take dilaudid and zanaflex when needed. I am also now in physical therapy (again). My muscles are so tight and PT isn't really helping. I'm in a lot of pain daily. Any suggestions? I have to work since i have kids in college and a mortgage, etc.
Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on October 02, 2010:
An excellent hub and it certainly applies to me. Back problems just "handicap" me from those things I love to do. Not to mention the quality of life. Thank you for this wonderful information.
Fazz on July 15, 2010:
Yoga def helps, you should try it, also try reflexology.
kitkendall on July 12, 2010:
I was told in 2003 that I had a bulging disc at L4-L5, when I was 25 weeks pregnant. I made it through horrible pain thanks to 3x a week physical therapy. After I had the baby, it got a little better, but after months and months of sciatica hobbling me, eventually I was talked into seeing a chiropractor. His aggressive treatments of 3x a week for 3 months didn't help, but he did introduce me to a TENS unit, which definitely helped some.
Eventually, I decided to see a spinal doctor. MRI showed that I had another, much larger herniation at L5-S1, so we planned for an epidural shot to help my pain and ease the sciatica. Surprise! I found out the day before I was 4 weeks pregnant and the doctor refused to do the procedure. I had to limp through another pregnancy using ibuprofen and 3x a week physical therapy. The TENS unit was a huge help! I could move around the electrodes depending on my pain and then dial up as needed to counter the nerve pain.
At 8 months pregnant, my baby moved a certain way and my sciatica disappeared almost instantly. It's never come back. PTs surmised it might have been something akin to traction at work from the inside out. But after 18 months of unrelenting pain, it was finally over. 3 months postpartum, I finally had the epidural injection which lasted for about 15 months. Since then, I've been seeing a rolfer weekly and looking for alternatives to surgery.
Due to other medical conditions, I am reduced to OTC pain meds only, so my next steps are to do the ball bounce and the mini-trampoline to see if they are helpful. Due to other medical conditions, I am reduced to OTC pain meds only. I can say that it's improved enough that I don't use a TENS unit anymore, but I'm sure glad it was there for me when I needed it.
lushel1984 on June 01, 2010:
I just want to say my situation is a lot like everyones you just feel like you've been let down by the doctors. Ive been laid up for over a month now I cant work because the pain from my herniated disk get so bad I can't walk stand sit any of the things that they say you should be able to do in a week. Then I got the spinal injection and it was uncomfortable but I wouldn't say painful until the next day and it only kept getting worse and I had nothing for the pain so at the end of the week ended up back in the doctors office the pain was so bad. The point is all the doctors really don't know much about our spinal/nerological systems but hopefully they will soon
Kelly M on April 18, 2010:
I have been suffering for a year with two broad base herniated disks at c5-6 and 6-7, from a mva last year. I also have been diagnosed with a sacral non united fracture.; all this from being rear ended, and then hitting the car in front of me. I have two young daughters and cannot play with them the way that I used to, in fact I find it hard to do the housework, or anything else without setting off pain in my arms, neck, butt and right leg. Lower back has a small disk bulge, and is very stiff, like I am a senior, but I am only 41. I wake up and take a cocktail of anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers (thank god for those) and vicoden-750-4x a day. My stomach feels like it is rotting from all the medication. It has been a year and a month and I am seriously considering the surgery, as nothing makes me feel better. Tried PT twice, (did get the leg pain to move out somewhat, but then it returns hours later)chiro, and have a tens unit. I wonder what I will feel like at 51.? I wouldn't wish this on anyone, ever. No amount of money could give me back my health. I thought at one time that I would just like to trade the pain with the lady that hit me, even just for one day, but as a christian I have decided that it is my cross to bear, and I have forgiven her, even though there are days that I am miserable and cry and drown in depression. What else is ther to do???????
JuJuChia on April 10, 2010:
I am so sorry to hear about all the experiences shared here. I've had herniated disc in my neck (C-5, C-6) for nearly 10 years. It's been a slow worsening non-stop pain every day until last year when I was really tempted to get surgery, but instead, I tried out yoga. For the first 6 month, I didn't feel any big difference. But after a year, I am almost completely healed from my pain. The bulging in my neck has also somewhat shrunk back. I think it is because yoga helps you to realign your spine and muscles. I would highly recommend trying it out as I think it is the only way that will truly heal a herniated disc. Pain killer and message will just alleviate the pain momentary. But it not treat the root cause. I have also heard swimming is really good for you too, but hasn’t tried that myself. Hope all of us can be free from this terrible experience soon one day.
mvsudler on February 24, 2010:
Hi, my name is Michael and about 1 year and a couple months ago I started having severe pain generating between my shoulders and radiating into my arm and neck and all the way to my fingers. The pain was so severe I couldn't even lift my head to get out of bed. After a week I realized it wasn't going to go away, so I went to the doctor. He sent me in for a mri of my cervical spine even though the pain was coming from in between my shoulders. And to my surprise they found 2 herniations (C-6,C-7) He then tried steroid shots in my neck, and when that didn't work sent me to a surgery consultation. I told the surgon that the pain was coming from in between my shoulders, so for peace of mind sent me to another mri of my therasic spine. And to my surprise again, they found 2 more herniated discs (T-5,T-6) and 5 degenerated discs all together in that same area. The surgon then told me that the operation to repair something like this is so severe they do not perfrom it unless the patient is seeing symptoms of paralysis. This devistated me. So, then my doctor just leaves me on vicodin and flexerol and does nothing else. While being seriously depressed for months, I couldn't really do anything because of the severe pain. I sat around a lot but got up and moved when I could. Then one morning, as if things weren't bad enough, when I woke up and went to stand I expirienced severe pain from my lower back and sharp pains that went all the way to my toes. Again the pain was so severe I couldn't even walk. Even trying to use the rest room was extremely painful and often unsuccessful because of the pain. So I went back to my doctor and he sent me in for another mri, this time of my lumbar and sacrum. To my surprise again they found 3 more herniated discs, i think they are(L-6,L-7, and S-1). Now again, my doctor just leaves me on the same pain medicine and does nothing. I've been dealing with this for over a year now and it's killing me. I haven't slept good in so long I can't even remember. And when they flare up again my poor fiancé has to literally get me out of bed and help me do everything. Does anyone have any recommendations?!? PLEASE?! I'm so lost...
zdrafu eugen on January 11, 2010:
hello im a young sailor from romania..in september 2009 i make a mri and they discover i have a herniated disc L5-S1,the problem it is a maked almost everything:psihio-terapy,termal baths,laser therapy i taked pills like arcoxia 90 mg and many other pills..its moment when i wana cry everyday because the pain and now for about 10 days i make exercise but sometimes i feel the pain increased after the exercise(williams exercise)and i would like to know if someone can tell me what can i do else..my mail firstname.lastname@example.org or my my id messanger micki_michaiel please tell more options
armando serrata on July 16, 2009:
My mom had sergery for heel spurs about 25 years ago. She has pain in her heels again,and a burning sensation from the middle of her foot to her toes. She recently went to her doctor and he said she had a slipped disc in between #4 and #5 . Could this be causing her foot pain?
Dr. Rob Simmons on July 13, 2009:
Don't forget about chiropractic care. It is a natural alternative and very effective for disc problems. Many chiropractors have the drx machine you mentioned also.
Danny on June 04, 2009:
Last december I had awaken with serious pains shooting down my right leg and right butttock. I've seen 3 different doctors, two of which recommended takiing painkillers the other advised to see a phsysiotherapist. I've now went to three physiotherapists, the first of which advised me on the exercises to do (laying on my back pushing upwards with hands) and the others more or less the same. Anytime I would go for a checkup they would simply put me on a bench, get me to do some stretches to see the process. Some comments where made but nothing productive or progressive. I have now stopped going for 3 months and continue to try stretching every 50min as its difficult when working in IT to get away. I asked to get a MRI done but 1 doctor advised it was not needed. The other two well said the same, it will pass and that i should just take painkillers. One of the physio's also said a MRI was not needed, just a lot of exercise. Im only 27 and have no idea how my injury happened. I feel its because of the profession i'm in (sit at a computer). I'm not sure what else to do really. I have no faith in doctors to as each seem to have a different opinion. I just continue to break away for 15min to do some stretches then continue the day. When I get home i usually lay on my back and try to relax.
Megg on June 01, 2009:
Oh, Helen! I'm so sorry to hear of your THREE years of misery! You'll be in my prayers, hang in there, if you're tough enough to tolerate all those years of discomfort, then I imagine you'll do well in recovery. You are stronger than you think.
Helen on June 01, 2009:
Megg - my story is almost identical - 3 yrs ao I fell down the stairs and have been treated for piriformis syndrome ever since even though I told them I didn't think it was correct (gut feeling?!). I was finally given an MRI 2 months ago and found HUGE bulge/herniated disc - I am in for surgery in 2.5 weeks time and am very anxious.
I hope you get some answers on June 19th.
Thanks for this blog, I've found it at a time when I really need this sort of information. I am most worried about recovery - I am a terrible patient and worried I will be able to rest up enough!
Megg on May 27, 2009:
I herniated mt L6!-S1 one year ago, in that time I was misdiagnosed as having Piriformis syndrome by L.B.J. Hospital in Houston. Since then my left calf muscle and my left foot have atrophied and withered away by 20%! I was finally given a M.R.I. 8 months later, lo and behold, there was my smushed spinal cord! I have an appointment with a neurosurgeon on June 19th. I don't know if my leg will ever be the same! I've refused all pain meds. except for the first 2 weeks when the pain was excruciateing. I hope everyone hangs in there.
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on April 22, 2009:
meg0317: I strongly suggest going back to the doctor. The sciatic pain down your leg means that your disc is still bulging and pinching your sciatic nerve. That will not generally resolve on its own, especially if it hasn't done so over the past 5 months. The pain will *not* get any better without treatment - trust me!
And if your doctor just tries to get rid of you with painkillers and PT treatment, get another doctor. You should get an MRI to confirm what's going on.
meg0317 on April 21, 2009:
I herniated a disk in my lower back in Dec. 08. I was in so much pain I couldn't stand or walk normally. I finally went to the Doc and he gave me a muscle relaxer and vidocin for the pain. I was also sent to PT. It work a little bit, I could at least stand and walk normally. However, I am still dealing with stabbing pains in my lower back and horrible siatic pain down my leg. I am not sure whether to go back to the doctor or just deal with the pain. I have been dealing with this for 5 months and I am getting really sick of the pain everyday.
Any suggestions would be great!
paneera on April 01, 2009:
Thank you for answering so fast. My doctor didn't mention the steroid shots. He gave me Celebrex and sent me to a chiropractor, when that didn't help he gave me Endocet and a back surgeon consult. I asked him about physio and he said I could try it. I'll ask him about the steroid shots.
I was glad to have found your hub. I'm up during the night and I try to distract myself because that's when the pain is the most unbearable.
Thanks again for answering.
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on March 31, 2009:
Paneera: my heart goes out to you. I know how unbelievably painful it can be, and the lack of relief and sleep can really wear you down. Did your doctor rule out the spinal steroid shots? They didn't work for me, but they have for others. It's a quick, relatively painless procedure, so it's worth a shot if your doctor thinks it can help you.
paneera on March 31, 2009:
Thanks for all your advice. I'm 53 yo female. I have L4-5 disc herniation. Been in agony for close to 3 months. I'm living on Advil, Tylenol, Tylenol #3 and Endocet. I haven't had a night's sleep in over 2 months. I'm so discouraged. My family is getting fed up with me. I'm struggling to do my job so I don't get fired.
I tried ice packs, Biofreeze, chiropractor, hasn't helped. I wake up in such agony in the middle of the night that I'm gasping with pain. I'm trying to distract myself for the hour until it kicks in and gives a bit of relief. I was told for medical reasons I'm not a surgical candidate. I'm feeling desperate. Standing is the worst and walking is almost as bad. Sitting seems the best although maybe I'm aggravating it by sitting so much.
Any help or words of encouragement will help me.
mulder from Warnbro Western Australia on February 19, 2009:
I went to a chiropactor and I started doing yoga and taking fish oil natural stuff my back getting better I made the mistake by having back sugery never again .
Joanie Ruppel from Texas on February 02, 2009:
Great overview. Back pain is a tough condition to deal with, and even if you choose surgery it seems that it doesn't solve the problem way too often. I've had co workers who chose surgery hoping that it would finally cure the pain, and in the end wished they hadn't. A look at alternative treatments is certainly time well spent.
oberbreckling on June 23, 2008:
yeah the spinal shots were terrible you know how they put the needle in there then move it around a little until they get in the right spot well that's when they had my legs jumping around they were doing it with the needle legs were jumping and there telling me be still now WoW hahah yeah right! but I think im gonna go to the university have them take take a look then if that's that I guess Im done learn too live with it because of the narrowing of disk height the areas where the nerve root come off of the spinal cord and goes through the small opening those opening keep getting smaller result eventually pinched nerves that's the degenertive disk side of it anyway plus herniated disk I live on darvecet with a narcotic in them oh well I'll keep you up to date in the future~cool~cya!
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on June 23, 2008:
Wow, that's serious, oberbreckling. Degenerative disc disease is really awful, and the fact that it's afflicted numerous discs is unimaginable. I hope you can find some sort of treatment that works and keeps you on your feet and out of pain. I can't imagine the spinal shots without some sort of sedative...
oberbreckling on June 22, 2008:
Back in 2003 I had back surgery L4-5 herniated disk did physical therapy turned out fine went back too my job,I also found at that time that I have degenerative disk disease last year I ruptured L4-5 again and also L3-4 so two this time had surgery January of this year and this time everything isn't fine I cant stand very long cant sit very long cant walk very far I have to lay down in bed and rest my body usually every hour for 20 min.surgeon says there nothing more he can do so he sent me to the pain clinic in may they gave me 4 steroid shots at once with no sedative It hurt so bad I was shaking Its still not any better do you think I should start over with MRI I wasn't sure you understood me on your other hub what do you think~cool~cya
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on June 21, 2008:
Thank you gredmondson! I'm just thankful medical technology has advanced to the point that treatment options like these exist. I can't imagine what a life with a herniated disc was like in the pre-surgical era!