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L5/S1 Herniation and Sciatica Pain

Hi all, I'm new to this forum and have
been reading allot of threads about lumbar disc herniation, sciatica and treatments,


Not-so Brief background:

I’m 44 years old and live a very active
life – cycling, running, golf, skiing and have 3 young kids.

I initially “hurt” my back around 6 years
ago and for 5 years only experienced muscle spasms once or twice a year, which
I treated with doses co-codemol (8x 30/500) and diazepam (2x 5mg) per day. The
spasms usually subsided after 2-3 days and I could get back to normal life with
no after affects. I also went to a chiro every month to get corrected and keep
my spine in check.

In Feb 2018 I had a flare up and treated
it as before, however this time it didn’t subside and got progressively worse.
I saw a Consultant Orthopaedic Spinal Surgeon and got a MRI, where he saw I had
a L5-S1 herniated disc. It was a small bulge and I wasn’t experiencing and
nerve pain so he recommended doing physical therapy. This worked for several
months and was back to normal activities, but in September I had another flare
up, but this time with severe nerve pain done both legs (but predominantly down
my left leg). I had a second MRI and it showed the disc bulge had actually got
better, so he encouraged me to continue with PT and restrict driving long
distance / sitting for long times, etc.

I tried this but had a severe flare up in
October – both nerve pain and muscle spasms. I then had epidural injections on
6th Nov and they worked very well for 4 weeks (back to running and
playing golf) until I slipped on a step and jolted my back setting off another
severe episode – nerve pain leading to debilitating muscle spasms. I scheduled
another steroid injection which I had on Fri 4th Jan. They have
helped with the muscle spasms and lower back pain, but I now have bad sciatica
down my left leg like never before – even worse than before the injections. Once
the antithetic wore off the pain was in my left buttock and thigh, but has now
moved down to behind my left knee and calf – it’s a dull ache that gets worse
at times with noticeable weakness in my leg. Luckily no numbness in my leg or foot (yet).

Currently I’m on 4-6x 30/500mg Co-Codemol
and 2x 500mg Naproxen a day, but don’t want to continue taking meds


I wanted to know if anyone has experienced
something similar – where they developed sciatica that was worse after the
injections and moved down the leg?

Did it get better? After how long? Any
other advice?

Also, did the injections help or did you
need to ultimately have surgery?

At what point did you make that decision?

Also is it possible for disc's to "pop out2 so that at the time of a MRI the bulge doesn't look too bad?


Any other advice would be greatly




  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 6,443

    hello scbono!
    welcome to spine health
    all new members should take the system tutorial

    please keep your discussions to a few paragraphs as that is what most members will read.
    a lot of your questions need to be answered by your doctor, especially surgery. that is a very serious decision which should only be made by you and your doctor.
    as far as injections, everyone is different, our bodies react different. also, doctors do injections different ways.  i had them before and after surgery and only 1 ever worked. and that was only for a couple of weeks. have you contacted your doctor about the sciatic? below is a link to verey good articles on sciatic.
    sciatica health center 

    take care and let us know hoe you are progressing with your treatment.

    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator
    Please read my  Medical Story  
  • I have had something similar after esi. I used to wake up feeling like my butt needed a root canal but the esi got rid of that. But about 2-3 weeks later I could not get the burning leg pain to go away at night no matter what I did. So we tried a second esi still not luck. We increased my Gabapentin and still no luck. I'd sleep for like 2 hours a night it was miserable.

    We purchased a zero gravity recliner and I spent many nights sleeping in it I was the only way I could get the burning leg pain to go away. 

    My last esi was about a year ago and probably in the last 3 months I've finally been able to sleep through the night. For the most part my burning leg pain is gone unless I overdo it at work... now it's more of a pressure like I have a balloon around my hamstrings. 

    So yes in short I am getting better but over a year later I'm still not 100%. My doctor has told me I could consider surgery but there is no guarantee he tells me about a study where they took 100 people and 50 had surgery and 50 didn't and a year later they are all doing about the same... also he says once you start having surgery it's usually a chain reaction on your spine. 

    I will also say finding the right exercise has been the most helpful to me. I by accident found a pilates studio that has been a miracle for me and my recovery. Without that I'm not sure where I would be today. 

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  • Thanks for the advice and the link to Sciatic Health care - found it very useful. 

    Update is that I now have very little sciatic pain in my leg, just a dull ache that is worst in the early morning and wakes me up. But after some dynamic stretching - mainly of the lower back and hamstrings, it subsides and is hardly noticeable. 

    However, I still have weakness in my left calf still and cannot stand on my toes, but working with a PT to strengthen that leg. 

    Has anyone else had leg weakness and what exercises / stretching, etc did you do to help strengthen it. 

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