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  1. #1
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    Oct 2005
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    Bulged lower back disc L4-L5, L5-S1 - Treatment options?

    Fluctuating lower back pain in that region (localized to my right side only) including radiating pain into my right leg (hamstrings, IT band, calve, and glutes).

    I can go 7-10 days without pain, then it flares up for 1-3 days at a time, usually making sitting and lying very uncomfortable.

    I've been doing some chiropractic treatments, mostly light adjustments and lots of traction / posture work, which does seem to help. But I'm at a point where the pain is becoming too strong to keep doing remedial work like that - I'm thinking I need surgery of some kind.

    Before I go see a doctor I'd like to do some research and know my shit...
    ... what options are out there, what's the healing prognosis/statistics for similar injuries, recovery times, etc?

    I've heard of procedures like fusions, cortisone injections (too temporary), stem cell injections, other kinds of injections, minimally invasive fusions?

    School me! Thanks all...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
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    1,056
    Unless you're suffering motor loss or 99% incapacitated by 8+ pain, surgery's not a very good option, especially fusion. Stem cell treatment's a ways out yet and cortisone epidurals generally provide temporary relief of symptoms (no causal treatment). Intensive, rigorous (as in not "some") PT/chiropractic/etc., with lots of patience, seem to be the best. PT worked best for me - surgery (discectomy, laminotomy) failed miserably. Plenty of personal experience on similar threads ......

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    1
    I'm pretty damn certain sure I've exercised all my options, but, at this point, what's the hurt??
    -- I have a herniated L5 (L4 & L3), which the two neurosurgeons I've met said 'WOWWWW' and OHHH...UHMMM'. Both have recommended surgery, pain mgmt-out patient surgeon, and pt have all said I need surgery. What the Hell should I do??
    I def cannot even begin to fathom people that have suffered through more than 6 months of this; I am struggling more than I ever had to keep my head up...i'll take any advise I can -- I mean, from-adjusting the pillows I prop my legs onto reduce the pressure on my back to the most effective pain killers...I have yet to come close to figuring out how to control my epilepsy. Honestly, I would take my epilepsy over this damn disc issue. I'm already physically limited enough. Please. Help me.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    Taking names later
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    3,596
    Instead of chiro, go find a good physical therapist or Athletic Trainer. You could try traction and or extension exercises. Epidural injections are also an option to try to reduce the swelling. As mentioned above, try all conservative measures before opting for surgery.
    fighting gravity on a daily basis

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    Handcrafted in Vermont
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    portland, or
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    1,765
    if you have 2 docs & a PT recommending surgery, i'd consider their opinions a little more heavily than those on a ski forum

    i put off a surgery on a blown L4-L5 for a miserable year trying all sorts of alternate therapies - the surgery was the one that worked and the recovery was relatively short considering they ginsu'ed into my back. that was 7 yrs ago. i'm a fully mobile 40 y.o. FWTW

    find the guy whose reputation you most respect and let him do what he gets paid big bucks to do - you will be happier

    then, you will stretch your hamstrings and calfs for ever after, amen
    go ahead and huck the cornice anywhere!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    Portlandia
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    The only thing that has ever helped me is constantly doing tons of core work, and stretching. That's kept me out of surgery so far.

    The risks are pretty serious, but if three professionals are telling you it's the best option, I'd believe them.

    I've heard of a couple of athletes who've gotten a little Lego looking piece put where the disk was, which helped them be more active later. Not sure if that's standard practice these days or not.
    You're not a poet, just a drunk with a pen.

    phil-herbert.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Alaska
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    467
    I had surgery this past January to fix a herniated and degenerative L4/L5. I tried three different therapists, did the epidurals, did the cortisone, and even did some funky ozone injection therapy (waste of money). Finally, I had an appointment with a new neurosurgeon, he saw how bad I was, and scheduled me for surgery the next morning. I couldn't stand for more than a few seconds at a time and the only way I found any relief was in the fetal position. I was pretty immobile for 3 days after the surgery, but could immediately tell the difference in pain levels. Having the degenerative part of the disc scooped out took care of much of the discomfort I had been suffering with for so long.

    three days later, my twin daughters were born. Even though I did all 10 sessions of PT the doc wanted me to do, continued with the stretching and strengthening at home, I didn't rest enough because of the twins. Now, here it is six months later, and I'm suffering from pretty bad bilateral sciatica. I had an MRI done last week and found out my L4/L5 is bulging again along with my L5/S1. At least I don't have the degenerative disc disease any more, but I'm still in a lot of pain and am having a lot of trouble walking. The sciatica is much worse this time around. Much. Both shins, from my knee through my feet, have a constant burning sensation and I get the pins and needle prickly feeling in my big toes and the one next to it and sometimes on the bottom of my feet.

    Doc wants to do all the conservative stuff again first. He wanted to give me some kind of vitamin shot, and I asked him what the point was. Can't wait to go through another year of this shit. Maybe I can find a better PT this time around. Last time, they were all fucking quacks, and every one of them had some different theory for fixing me. Avoid dipshits who just came back from India and say, Namaste, all the time. that freak was the worst one of all. Goddman Germans..... (shaking head).

    If you have that many experts telling you you need surgery, I think I'd go with that.

    Moral of the story - after surgery, you must take the time to recoup. I tried, but had to help take care of the twins also. That did me in.

    (I'm going to post this on the other back thread I started last year also - just to update and for posterity)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Denver, CO
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    426
    Was having similar low back pain (bulging disc) and went to a chiropractor who only made the problem much worse. I then went to a physical therapist who did a combination of manual manipulation, stretching, exercises, traction and needles combined with electrical current (think it was call intramusclar stimulation therapy?) I was really skeptical but I'm 9 months out with no pain or flair ups. If you are in Denver, I can send you the PTs contact info.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    coloRADo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colorado_Freeskier View Post
    Was having similar low back pain (bulging disc) and went to a chiropractor who only made the problem much worse. I then went to a physical therapist who did a combination of manual manipulation, stretching, exercises, traction and needles combined with electrical current (think it was call intramusclar stimulation therapy?) I was really skeptical but I'm 9 months out with no pain or flair ups. If you are in Denver, I can send you the PTs contact info.
    Hook a local up please!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    X=Z-BO
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    Physical therapy. I had the doctors telling me i needed surgery for the same thing. I did two months of pt, lost fifteen pounds and haven't had a major flare up in five years. A good physical therapist is your best option if you want to make it without surgery.
    god created man. winchester and baseball bats made them equal - evel kenievel

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    426
    The PT's name is Andy Free and he works out of the Greenwood Athletic Club. The company he works for has an office just inside the main entrance.

    Physiotherapy Associates - Greenwood
    5801 S. QUEBEC STREET
    Suite 100
    Greenwood Village, CO 80111
    303-694-9193

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