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L5/S1 disc problem

I am 34 years old male, 6' and 250Lbs and in average shape. Prior to the following injury the only spinal problem I had was two cervical bulging disc in my neck from a car accident two years ago.

I sustained an injury in MAY that left me with pretty significant lower back pain, burning from the waist down, numbness and weakness in my left leg and a numb spot underneath my left shoulder blade near my spine. The doctor (pain management) sent me to a chiropractor first. I then went to 3 appointments and couldn't bare the pain any longer. After the chiropractic treatment I also started having sharp pains underneath that numb spot mid back. Currently I am in physical therapy (pool) but the therapist seem a little hesitant to do anything with me due to my pain level. 

My lumbar MRI showed the following:

"L5-S1 : Asymmetric broadbase disc protrusion central/left parasagittal but the left S1 nerve root with very mild retrodisplacement"

Thoracic MRI showed nothing significant.

I had the lumbar MRI prior to any treatment but since having treatment it has gotten significantly worse. The doctor ordered a bone scan to see if they could diagnose my upper back issue but I have yet to have that done. I'm becoming very aggravated that it is taking so long for treatment and that things are not feeling like they are healing. IT HAS BEEN 4 MONTHS SINCE THE INJURY. I have not had any cortisone injections yet. Frustrated beyond words........

Any advice or suggestions are appreciated or if anyone had similar issues I would really love hearing how everything worked out. Did cortisone injections help anyone here? 



  • hurtcathhurtcat Posts: 39
    edited 09/29/2017 - 3:06 PM


    I am sorry you are going through all this. It is my personal opinion that chiropractics should be avoided at all costs (you can see my post history). I became a member of this forum after visiting one. I never had any issues with lumbar pain before going. Now I am diagnosed with L4/L5 and L5/S1 protrusions associated to annular tears (probably due to the trauma of the osteopathic/chiropractic brutality sessions). 

    I would advice you to go with a doctor that is a good spine specialist and listens to you, because in my experience, doctors only listen for 5 min and then they to$$ you out with a "rehab, pills" see you in 3 weeks and then they go with the next patient. And in the meantime it is you the one that is in terrible pain.

    I am just new to this so I can't tell you what to do and I shouldn't because I am not a medical doctor, but I've been finding ice and infrared light therapy a source of relief.  Maybe ask your doctor/physiotherapist if you could do that on your own at home.

    Today I will start my first rehab session (after 1 month of being injured) and the doctor remarked on TENS. However, I've read that TENS are not really helpful in the healing, just masking the pain... so. There's that, you could also ask your physio about it.

     I am gonna do this initial rehab "this way" and see how it goes but I have already booked an appointment with a real rehab spine specialist due to 13th.

    I am already researching other possibilities, such as PRP and not steroids/epidural injections. Stem cells seem to be the best, but it is too expensive for me. I am trying to find if the social security from my country covers it, but due to the experimental phase of it, I am not so sure. Although we are already in 2017, almost 2018. 

    Don't lose hope, hang in there. Try to find a better doctor. Don't let time and doctors pass over you.

    Sending you strength. And hope you get better.


  • Thank you so much for your reply! I had the TENS treatments. It felt ok during the treatment but didn't do much for the pain/burning/numbness after. Good luck with your situation and let me know if you find something that really works for you. I forgot to put this in the original post but a did find a good spine doctor and have an appointment with him in two weeks. Hopefully he can outline a good plan of treatment. 

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  • I'm sorry you are so discouraged, and feel you are getting no where. I too feel no one listens and tells me what is really going on in my back. They give me 15 minutes of their time and document so many things they say they have done and said to or with me, that they haven't, and then bill my insurance for an astronomical fee. 

    Last year, March 2016, I underwent a Triple Arthrodeses of my right foot and ankle to correct a grossly flat foot. I still need the other foot done as well. After three months of wearing casts and no weight bearing, I was placed in a walking boot, and told to advance to a shoe after six weeks. During that time period I suffered other serious illnesses that required medical attention, thus I lost a lot of generalized physical stamina. After weeks of recovery from those I began to notice gross weakness in my lower back, and overal generalized weakness. I placed a call to my foot surgeon for generalized PT. Instead only got an order for therapy to my operative foot. I attended a few sessions of therapy for my foot while sitting in a chair only. As soon as the therapy sessions begin I noticed pain in my right lower back that traveled down to my right leg. My R knee also hurt and felt it was going to explode with a gross burning feeling. (Prior to my foot surgery, I had orthoscopic surgery on both knees at the same time  and the pain in my right knee STILL continues to hurt) I also began to feel numbness down my entire R leg. I went to my back doctor with these symptoms, as I've had a history of SI Joint Dysfunction, and I went the next day to see my Orthopedic MD regarding my knee. My back doctor scheduled me for an SI Joint injection and my Orthopedic MD gave me a steroid injection in my R knee, and while doing so insisted the pain from my knee was coming from my back and not my knee. He also requested I return to see him I 6 weeks.  I went on for the injection in my back, all the while I continued with PT, but NOT sitting in a chair, but now on an exercise table. I returned for the followup visit with my back doctor for the SI Joint injection with no improvement in pain, but with a NEW symptom in the middle portion of my back that was excruciating. My back doctor ordered an L-Spine MRI and PT for my lower back along with a second steroid injection into the piriformis muscle, not sure.... I returned to PT but was unable to participate most of the time due to the severity of the pain. I went for the scheduled injection regarding my piriformis muscle and for the results of the L-Spine MRI. The MRI revealed a compression fracture at T-12, AND it referenced an old L-1 fracture from the previous year that my doctor NEVER told me about. The doctor and I discussed just allowing it to heal on it's own. Upon returning for my follow up to the R knee injection, my Orthopedic MD insisted that I was TOLD to have a Kyphoplasty to correct my T-12 fracture.... I told him of the discussion we had had regarding "letting it just heal," but he insisted I have the Kyphoplasty and had his office schedule an appointment with a local neurosurgeon for the same. The day I was to return for the follow up for the piriformis injection my back doctor.'s nurse called and cancelled my appointment and said "you are going to see the neurosurgeon now for your back, there's no need to come back here, we are transferring your care to him." Upon seeing the neurosurgeon's NP she ordered X-rays only, saying she did not think I could physically withstand another MRI. As a nurse myself, I questioned that order, as X-rays don't reveal everything. She told me that would be fine. My Rheumatologist also told me that a Kyphoplasty had to be done within a two week period to be successful. (Researching on the internet, he was right and we were already into the third month post fracture) I returned to see the neurosurgeon. He informed me that the only thing he could do for me was the Kyphoplasty at T-12 as there were so many other things wrong with my back. I questioned the NP about my lower back symptoms and she stated "it's your weight."  I went on to have the Kyphoplasty. After waking from it there was a handwritten note at my bedside from the neurosurgeon stating that I should never return to work as my bsck was so bad and listing the multiple diagnoses. I had never been told this before..... Prior to leaving the hospital I began to notice pain under both breasts. (This day was the 23rd of December) Upon awakening the next am I was in severe pain and hardly able to move. I attempted MULTIPLE  times to go to an Urgent Care for an examination and X-ray, as I felt certain I had a fractured rib. I was in too much pain to get dressed and make the trip. My family frustratingly reminded me that I was a nurse and if I had a fractured rib that I should know there is really nothing that can be done except to rest, and it was Christmas. So I remained home. I received a call from the neurosurgeon's office on Monday inquiring as to how I was feeling. I informed the young lady and she told me that she would have the NP call me. When the NP called, I informed her. She laughed at me and told me that I did not have a fractured rib and accused me of "trying to accuse the hospital ( that I work for) of breaking my rib."  She told me to take my pain medication and return when scheduled for my stitches to be removed. I did so and requested at that time to see the doctor but he refused....,unless I wanted to wait until the end of the day when all other patients had been seen. I was in so much pain I could not. The young lady that initially took a description of my symptoms upon arrival typed them into their computer and read them back to me then hit "send." Later in the week I made an appointment with him just to discuss my back, his findings and what my future hiolds, as no one had ever told me that my back was "so bad I should never return to work." A few days later I received a phone call from his NP. She told me that he said "he could do no more for me and I'm canceling your appointment." She did just that! I requested a copy of medical records. All of the and her documentation regarding their follow call to me was deleted along with the documentation regarding my followup visit. Thus, I've had to resort to traveling to other doctors 41/2 hours away.... which are actually causing more pain. I've been told I have a severe nerve root irrigation at L-4 and Spondrlotheseis. The Kyphoplasty has totally changed my life.... it hurts constantly and feels like I have a block of wood in my back. I can't sleep, for both areas of pain, and the Kyphoplasty now prevents normal ROM. I'm no longer able to even enjoy laying on my sofa, sitting in my recliner, riding in my car, and I need assistance with bathing and toileting. I'm unable to twist and turn my upper torso as I previously did.... the pain in EXCRUCIATING! I'm depressed and feel my life as it was is OVER. I cry a lot and feel so hopeless and helpless. I've lost friends and family out of their lack of understanding my pain. I've undergone two ESI with no relief and am currently undergoing water aquatics with massage therapy, due to the SEVERE muscle spasms I endure each day from fighting this pain.... I DON'T know what is ahead for me, but my life as it was is GONE...., I cannot drive due to the pain medications and I'm unable to get a good night's sleep.... sometimes only out of exhaustion. I also have severe osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.  I FEEL NO ONE CARES AND CANT IMAGINE LIVING THE REST OF MY LIFE THIS WAY... 

  • hi mjhwing196

    welcome to spine-health

    so good to read you have found a good spine doctor and wanted to wish you luck with your appointment.

    i think from the description of your pain levels and the therapist reluctance to set exercises, you have made a good decision.

    you have done all you can with therapy to try to improve things but it sounds as if you need to be reassessed again.

    i have added two links below to help new members with information on this very informative site.  there is lots of material to research that will help give you the power of knowledge.

    welcome to spine health

    please update us after your appointment, so we can offer further support if needed



    L5/S1 herniation Apr 2013
    nerve root injections Oct 2013
    L5/S1 discectomy Jan 2014
    L5/S1 nerve roo &, facet joint injections & edpidural Jan 2015
    L5/S1 revised discectomy, L4/L5 discectomy & Wallis Inswing Stabilisation L4/L5 May 1st 2015
    L4-S1 TLIF with decompression June 2017
  • Hey mjhwing196,

    I am also glad you found a good specialist! Let's hope it gets better from there. I will let you know if I find something that works for me. So far I am still the same. Waiting also for the appointments and for improvement. 

    I wish you good luck!

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