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L4-L5, L5-S1 Herniation trying to avoid surgery

chomichcchomich Posts: 1
edited 04/19/2018 - 1:48 AM in Lower Back Pain

Hello, I have a L4-L5 3mm disc herniation and a L5-S1 4 mm herniation. I am 23 and the pain started in Oct of 2016 and got progressively worse. At its peak, I couldn’t sit down for more than 5 minutes without sciatica and my leg going numb, and I can’t bend over to try to touch my toes and reach past my knees, and also can’t lift my right leg higher then a couple feet off the ground while laying up my back.

I am 6’0 and 195lbs. Been physically active my whole life, basketball, volleyball, running, hiking, swimming. 

I started physical therapy in January of 2017 for 2 months, mainly massage therapy and mobilization until my pain went down enough to start Pilates. The Pilates instructor I felt after a couple sessions was not qualified and did not know how to help so I stopped going, especially since I was paying out of pocket because insurance did not cover. The only reason I feel my pain was reduce was because I stopped going to school and having to sit for long periods of time. I did another stint of therapy in June 2017. This time it was strengthening exercise focused, where I did a lot of core and leg strenthing exercises. The stimulation and traction before and after therapy helped, but was only temporary and pain would continue right after. When I asked my therapist after 8 weeks when my pain would go away, he acted like he didn’t even know my pain existed. He told me to do exercise that I couldn’t and when I told him I couldn’t bend over and lift my leg or even sit down, he told me to see a pain specialist. Disappointed to say the least. 

In September I saw the pain specialist and got an epidural shot. The shot took the sciatica away and can now sit for a couple hours, however there is still m pain on in my mid back to lower back and tender points on my spine when I do sit for long periods. I know the obvious answer is to not sit for long but I gas a long drive to work and sit at work and during class.

I still cannot bend over or lift my leg, and though the day to day activities are manageable, the mental frustration is torture. Constant nerve pain is mentally exhausting and I have no idea what other options to take. I want to avoid surgery at all costs since the herniations are only 3,4 mm. I just don’t like the idea of a doctor poking around my spine with uncertain long term risks. I can get a second epidural but I’m skeptical that it is worth the risk of nerve damage for the same result. I can try physical therapy again but do not know any good ones who specialize in disc rehab, especially for multiple discs with sciatica and multiple nerve root abutment. 

Has anyone who’s had similar symptoms, can’t sit down, can’t bend over, and can’t lift leg, been healed from non-surgical treatments? Any treatments anyone has had good experience with? Whether it is physical therapy, physio therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, yoga, Pilates, aquatic therapy, holistic medicine, chiropractic? 

Please help by sharing anything that can be of value, I am desperate and out of options. I want to get back to my old, active, and pain free lifestyle. 



  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 6,480

    hello chomich
    welcome to spine-health

    from personal experience with sciatica, i have never been healed from non-surgical treatments. and i've tried them all, several times. the only thing that ever gave me any relief was a caudal block. pain free for about 3-4 months. i cannot have surgery so i have to live with it, but at least this works for me. i also do a simple stretch across my dining room table, arms in front over my head and slowly stretch. if it's possible, i lift my left leg back slowly and back down. i do this several times a day. below are 3 links to articles that may help you out.

    please click on the welcome link below and the tutorial to get you started using the forum.
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  • dilauroddilauro ConnecticutPosts: 12,609

    Having surgery is a very personal decision.

    I can give you two thoughts or opinions about this.

    • Research all you can about your condition and the type of surgery you may be having
    • You may know when its time for surgery
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