Bulging disc success story

Hello all I would like to share my story dealing with sciatica and a bulging disc. I'm a young male 22 going on to 23 soon. I stayed active by playing a ton of basketball and lifting weights. Also did wrestling , and football in high school. Any how I experienced lower back pain when I was about 20, i thought nothing of it and gave it some time. Later on around 21 years of age the back pain resolved but i was facing this new pain that ran down my right but cheek to the back of my knee. I went with this pain on and off for about a year or two. I noticed that when i lifted weights i wasn't experiencing any pain, the only lifts I would do were mostly upper body, I decided to stay away from dead lifting and squatting due to my pain. Also i noticed after playing basketball the pain would be the worst the day after. I would give it a few days off, pain would subside and play basketball, once again the pain down my leg would return. I kept playing basketball due to my stubbornness of loving the sport. One day I woke up with the worst pain I've ever felt running down my leg, felt like a sharp pain as if i were being stabbed , every now and then I would feel tingling down to my foot. Working as a transporter at the hospital i had to be on my feet through out the day so i finally decided to get a scan done to pinpoint the problem.

I went in for my MRI scan that showed i had a bulging disc at L5/S1. Impression: L5/S1 right paracentral disc extrusion measuring approximately 1.2 x 1.6x 1.5 cm with severe right lateral recess stenosis and suspected S1 nerve root impingement. Mild background disc bulge also noted at the L5/S1 level. I went to pain management right after to discuss my options which were first medications, physical therapy, and icing. The next option would be an epidural injection to relive pain which honestly terrified me, being 22 young and healthy i didn't want any invasive treatments. Last option would be surgery which would include a fusion, or a microdiscectomy, which once again terrified me. So i decided to go on with the medication and stretches first. I was prescribed naproxen , gabapentin , vicodin, and felxeril. My experiences were, the vicodin being a narcotic pain reliever, i tried twice and felt naseous with not much pain relief i decided to stay away from it since people can get hooked on it. The gabapentin was for nerve pain, it did help mostly at night when the pain was the worst. I only took the gabapentin a few times as well. The felxeril was prescribed for muscle spasms which I would rarely get, the muscle spasms didn't hurt just felt funny so i didn't take that either. The next and final drug was naproxen and it worked wonders for me. I took this twice daily for 2-3 weeks. I read the side effects on possible GI tract bleed, and many others which scared me. But I felt the naproxen was helping so I decided to take it. I asked the pharmacist whats the longest i could take naproxen before it becomes harmful and the answer was daily for more than 6 months, thank God i didnt have to take it for that long.

Onto my pain, I had excruciating pain running down my leg through out the day it would be about 6-7/10 and at night it was the worst 9/10, I would toss and turn , grind my teeth, not getting any sleep. Driving was tough at times too, I'm a college student so walking to classes was a challenge as well. The pain was the worst when i would lay down or walk, sitting was my best option for pain relief. This pain was constant 24/7 sometimes more bearable at times. It was also mentally tiring and frustrating. I would be moody and catastrophic thoughts about always living with this pain, not being able to work anymore, and so on so forth.

The recovery, So i took time off work on absence of leave. I'm an active guy with school , work, and extracurricular activities, being off work felt bizarre. So i looked up youtube videos , read forums, and everything to learn about curing a bulging disc or at least my main focus to get rid of the sciatica pain. At this point i gave up basketball completely knowing that was a major cause , and i gave up weight lifting for now which was a hard thing to do. I bought a back brace which i recommend, it felt like it improved my posture, and gave me a snug secure feeling on my spine. I picked up swimming , i read that its less pressure on your joints and spinal column than regular exercise. Stretching i feel is important too, just be careful to start off light, and if you're in pain be extra careful. This stretch called the reclining pigeon nose was the best pain relief for sciatica when I would lay down. I also did the heat pads but i felt those didn't help too much. Icing your back helped as well. Another thing is to correct your posture at all times, from sitting to standing to laying down. In class I would sit for hours but I made sure my posture was right with the help of my back brace, while walking too, walk slower concentrate on your posture. I'm a month in with this recovery and finally little to no pain. I even stopped taking the naproxen for a week now and no pain. I still wear my brace mostly at all times. I still stretch and go for a swim at the gym. I'm giving up basketball which was the culprit, ill start introducing weights a few weeks from now and start off light. Still practicing good posture too. I can feel that i'm not 100% but at least i'm not in pain anymore which was the goal here. Also another thing is to be careful not to bend over as well, if you have to get something off the floor squat down keep your back straight and lift with your legs. I know it feels and probably looks funny but its all part of using proper body mechanics to avoid injuries.

Well that's my success story and I hope anyone dealing or suffering with sciatica recovers as well. An important thing is to find out if there's anything that's causing this to continue, for I it was playing basketball which I completely abandoned to keep my spine healthy. Once again i'm not 100% but not in pain anymore and can do my daily living activities with ease. This is just my story, I know everyone's body is different , different locations for bulging or herniations , different treatments but I hope this helps anyone reading this. Stay positive have faith and one day too you'll probably recover as well.



  • AJGormitAAJGormit Posts: 2,087
    edited 07/23/2019 - 1:08 PM

    hi johnnyportillo95

    Welcome to Veritas Health Forum

    thanks for sharing your experiences and take care of that damaged disc.  i spent many years 'managing' my back issues with conservative treatments and tailored exercise. keep avoiding the things you know cause you problems and keep your core strong with the exercises you can manage.  you have a weakened disc and need to take care of that to reduce the chance of more episodes of pain.

    i have added two links below to help new members with information and these also contain the forum rules.  there is lots of material to research that will give you the power of knowledge.

    welcome to spine health

    all new members should take the system tutorial 


  • MarWinMarWin OhioPosts: 654

    Hmmm, basketball is the culprit. Just a little tongue-in-cheek here, but if basketball were the culprit why doesn't everyone that plays suffer from the same? Well maybe not tongue-in-cheek, but didn't want you to think I was being rude or demeaning. My approach is to try and give differing ways to look at your pain. In your case, it is awesome that you are taking responsibility for your own health. Who knows our bodies better than ourselves? 

    Another concern right now is about your brace. I am glad that it works [right now] but what will happen when you have to remove it? Keep in mind, a brace is merely a substitute for what your muscles should be doing. Wear it long enough and your muscles give up and transfer their responsibility to the brace. Atrophy can set in. I have similar beliefs on pain meds. 

    You are definitely on the right track with being conscious about your posture. Good posture equals good muscle balance equals good posture equals no pain! However, much of the trick is to keep your muscles active more than inactive. That's not suggesting go to the gym and lift weights 8 hours a day, but as you cited, you sit in class for long periods of time. This is constantly training your muscles what to do. The hour or two spent lifting or on the hardwood is no match for the amount of time spent in a static state.On any given day I am getting in as much variable muscle movement as I can (I have a desk job), but on game-day you can bet I'll be getting groovy at my desk. I'll take walks around the office. Find some stairs. Whatever I can do to keep my muscles active. Keeping your muscles ready-to-go at any given time will save you from much pain. 

    Just some food for thought to keep your mind active and searching for more ways to stay out of pain! Thanks for sharing your story. 

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  • Thank you for your feedback , will definitely take into consideration 

  • tjlazerttjlazer TacomaPosts: 121
    edited 04/12/2018 - 12:28 PM

    Basketball is the culprit becase it causes a lot of strain on the discs, and also when you twist you can develop annual tears!  Happened to me over the years.  I loved playing and I believe it played a large part in my DDD and severe Sciatica problems.  Bad body mechanics, overweight and not enough hydration also play key parts too.  It is not uncommon for basketball players to develope back issues, especially taller ones.

  • MarWinMarWin OhioPosts: 654

    Is basketball the culprit, or is lack of preparing one's own body for the task the culprit? Why only basketball players? Why not all basketball players? Why not everyone that is overweight? Why not all tall people? Why not everyone over the age of XX? 

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  • tjlazerttjlazer TacomaPosts: 121

    Obviously it's not this single thing alone.  It's anything that helps compress your discs.  And other factors that exacerbate it.  ie smoking, being fat, not drinking enough water, drinking too much alcohol, not using good posture, sitting too much, etc.  Running, basketball, deadlifting, football, biking.  A lot of these things can make it worse if that is all you did.  I played a lot of basketball, and I now have DDD and Sciatica.  Was it the single cause?  No. Did it make it worse?  IMHO, YES.

  • MarWinMarWin OhioPosts: 654

    But you can do things to avoid those conditions and yet still play. It's the "only playing basketball" that could be the issue. You have to do other things to keep the balance. At almost 50, I have gotten back into heavy lifting, officiating multiple times a week, occasionally playing. IMHO, both DDD and Sciatica are reversible. If it's your bones that are compressing the discs, then you have to look to your muscles because they are what moves the bone. It's not the discs to hold the bones apart, that's the job of the muscles. Actually, discs need compression and decompression from the vertebrae as part of their health maintenance and vitality. I have reversed both and no longer shy away from stepping out on the pitch ;)

  • Hi Marwin, could I ask who told you ddd is reversible? I have it in all my spine neck 4 levels , thoracic 7 levels and lumber 4 levels, neck and lumbar are at phase 4 , thoracic is phase 3, I have been told mine is not reversible only can get short relief from osteo, physio. I may have to get a second opinion, might be hope out there,

  • MarWinMarWin OhioPosts: 654

    I discovered this for myself. I read books, and educated myself on Postural Alignment Therapy. Each of my lumbar discs were in DDD. I had low back pain for over 25 years. I had sciatica for over 2 years. Now I have neither. 

    My beliefs are: Discs are living tissue. All tissue in our body can regenerate, so how are discs any different? Discs need hydration, nutrients, and movement to survive. All too often we take those things away and the discs suffer. We are a chronically dehydrated society. Terrible diets. And our static lifestyles remove necessary compression/decompression from the vertebra to the discs. This eliminates the necessary flow of blood, hydration, nutrients to our discs.    

    Each day I start off with doing about 30-60 minutes of muscle balancing exercises. On the weekends I start off with a 90 minute routine. I hydrate throughout the day at about the rate of 0.5 oz water for each pound I weigh. I have a desk job, but I do my best to maintain as much variable movement as possible while at work and home. I am probably on my feet more than on my butt. I constantly practice my breathing techniques throughout the day. 

    Having said all that, I will also say that I have not done any imaging tests to confirm my regeneration. I am going strictly by my own reality of no longer being in pain. To me, that's proof positive my systems are again working at their optimum level. I didn't use drugs, chiropractic, surgery, etc. Just simple-to-do daily exercises. 

    I am so glad I could give you even a glimpse of hope. Never give up. Constantly educate yourself. Never give up! 

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