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Help with severe lower back pain...

Went and got second opinion for wife's extreme back pain.   Been having pain for two months. Left side of back, hips, upper leg, lower leg, ankle.

Been seeing a physiotherapist couple weeks. Said he figured it was bulging disc and pinched nerve. Not to get any scans. He could fix me up. So we got started.

We decided to get a second opinion.  ThisdThis (sports medicine specialist) said we don't need an MRI either. Looked at x-rays and says without a doubt it's bulging disc L5 / S1.  Says nerve is pinched. That's why she has pain, why she has less feeling in left leg and has issues moving her big toe on left foot. 

Only solution is if PT works he said. Other than that it's probably surgery. 

Gave us some muscle relaxers. Said narcotic pain meds don't work for nerve pain well so to skip those.   If these pills don't work within a week we can try gabapentin next week he said. 

He said we should skip our upcoming pain management appt. They're going to offer same two meds as him and then shots. He said pain shots into spine won't help this location in his opinion.  Would just cover it up temporarily if it worked at all. 

Said if PT doesn't work in a few more weeks then we'll see a spine surgeon and get the MRI to help them prepare for surgery.

Thoughts?  Opinions?  He seemed very confident in all this.



  • Let your family Dr. Know there’s any numbness in the toe. I had to get an EMG and saw the Neurologist that day. 

    I didn’t have surgery for my herniated discs but did get an MRI . Family Dr. or Primary was my go to Dr. as they control all the referrals.

    Always good to get several opinions from Drs. I’m just giving my experience as a fellow member going through spine issues. No medical advice from me but there’s great articles and videos on here and Spine-health. Charry

  • Welcome thcguy12 we’re glad you’re here!

    If it were me I would be getting another opinion from a spine specialist, according to my doctor disc and nerves do not show up with x-rays, only a MRI or other comparable test will show that.

    While you’re waiting for a reply to your first post, please take a few moments to review the Code of Conduct and FAQ section, located under Forum Tools. There you will find important information about posting in the forum and helpful tips for new members.

    Here’s a great article about back pain on Spine-health that you might want to check out: Back Pain Overview: A Guide for Understanding Back Pain. The article outlines common lower back pain causes, symptoms, and treatments. It’s a very comprehensive article. I hope you find this information helpful.

    Again, welcome to the Veritas Health Forum.


    Veritas Health Forum Moderator

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  • I would definitely see a spine specialist.  There are a number of options you can try before surgery.  I had two cortisone injections, which helped (about four months apart).  Finally my specialist performed a radio frequency ablation which has helped my back pain tremendously.  I went from a pain score of 10 to 1, sometimes it's 0 (although today it's around 2).  These procedures, for me, were minimally invasive.  It's also important to strengthen your core muscles, eat non inflammatory foods, and lose weight if you need to.  Pain is a great motivator, that's for sure.  Please let us know how things are going, ok?

  • I would go to a spine specialist. I have had injections in l4-s1 it worked for a year each time. I see management doctor Monday to see about injections since my 3rd spine surgery. The last one being October. The gabapentine was a life saver. I didn't find much relief either just muscle relaxers and pain pills alone. 

  • Hi Thcguy12,

    I am a Physio and advanced practice spine clinician. It sounds to me like you have gotten appropriate advice. A good clinical exam is all that is needed to diagnose the problem. An MRI would only be used to confirm a surgical approach (where I live and work). Decompression surgery can eliminate leg pain faster - but most patients end up resolving without the surgery - it just takes longer. Gabapentin can work for most people.

    Good luck and stay with it!


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  • Spine specialist /. Orthopedic. Ask around and get best one.

    I was walking around for 3 weeks with fracture on Sacrum - still am. Pain like a knife in lower back pinching S1 nerve root so pain upper thigh, down left leg.

    Went to husbands orthopedic Dr. he did X-ray which showed pinched nerve gave me steriod shot and steroid pack but it did not help.

    A week later he ordered MRI and lo and behold I had fractured sacrum - party arthritis related, the rest injured during physical therapy of my knee replacement in June.

    Told to rest, take pain med, calcium and vitamin d as bones heal themselves. If it does not work, may do injections.

    Husband went to sports medicine Dr. had 2 rounds of PT did not work, had nerve emulation, did not work, finally went to our Orthaoed who looked at X-ray, said “ ah ha” he had disk pushed far out from rest and a pinched nerve, sciatica and could barely walk. He did need a fusion, but three weeks later he’s walking a mile every night and woke up pain free for first time in years after surgery.

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