First of all, I want to express my gratitude to the creators and supporters of this valuable resource of information. You are helping a lot of people in an every single minute, guys!
Let me introduce myself! I am 29 years old male, living in Republic of Bulgaria, situated in Eastern Europe. I hope that you will excuse me for my rather unusual English but the most important thing is to understand ourselves and to share our fears and hopes.
Four months ago, in the beginning of July 2010 a strange feeling came up in my left leg when changing positions from sitting to standing - it was the sciatic pain we are all familiar with it. I paid no attention and went to a trip in Sweden and Denmark. The sightseeing was very heavy and my sciatic pain aggravated. So I literally ran for an MRI scan on the next day after I was back home. Here in Bulgaria one has a relatively easy access to all imaging techniques. I am pretty surprised that in countries like USA and Great Britain one has to wait so long for an MRI scan to be done.
The MRI revealed that I have one large disc herniation at L5-S1, that is pressing the nerve roots from the left side. I have also two small protrusions on L3-L4 and L4-L5. The doctors said that they are asymptomatic and that the deal breaker and party stopper is the herniation on L5-S1. Further I made EMG test which revealed a certain degree of damage on my l5 and s1 roots.
I started conservative treatment with NSAID's and a muscle relaxant. They seemed not to help much and a couple of steroid substances have been added, again with moderte or almost no success. I went back to work (I work as an in house lawyer in a Bank) and it was a pretty heavy experience - every time I stood up from my chair, I experienced a very unpleasant and sharp pain all the way down on my left leg. It may be strange but I don't feel any pain in my lower back, only in my leg. The medicines just didn't help, the time passed and it is already October now. I have no foot drop or muscle weakness, it is tbe heavy pain (7-8/10) that I am experincing when chaniging positions, when I sit and incline my upper part of the body in any given direction. I have also a feeling of heaviness in my leg when standing and walking. I visited also a MD in our largest and mosst prominent university hospital, who is specialized in manual therapy. She adjusts me, but I feel moderate to no significant relief. I have tried also acupuncture, TENS, physical exercises, massages - nothing helped.
In the mean time (September 2010), in order to get things more complicated, I was diagnosed with a Deep Vein Thrombosis on my "sciatical" leg. I have to wear compression stocking on it and to take anticoagulant drug (Sintrom) in order to prevent future blood clots. Because of the anticoagulant, I have to proceed with caution when taking NSAID's and other pain medications in order to avoid gastrointestinal bleeding. Cool, huh?
Although my pain is not as significant as the pain of so mny fellow sufferers here, it has its negative impact on my life quality. The pain is there, waiting for a single wrong movement or for 30 minutes of sitting in order to hit me. I can not get accustomed to this horrible feeling! And nothing helps! I don't take any strong analgesics (in fact I don't take any analgesics, because they just diminish the pain and I am not in constant pain). Also I am not feel able to do free my previous activities - travelling, climbing, disco nights etc. Wehn I am travelling in a car, the standing from the car seat is a terrible terrible experence ( you know what I am talking about). I think I can not handle a 8 hour working day in my office, since I have to sit all the time and this is horrible.
I am a bit embarrassed of the doctors here - according to them this is not serious, although the first line medications are not helping at all! The manual therapy doesn't help either! The pain is always there already 4 months!
Last month I visited a neurosurgeon. He said that the herniation is pretty big and it will not be fixed by meds and offered microdiscectomy on L5-S1. Then I got second opinion from another surgeon who said that Ihave to continue for a certain period with the conservative therapy and afterwards we will evaluate the results and the options.
So I am on a crossroad now. Frankly speaking, I don't expect the medications to help me. May be I have to proceed with some other medications like Lyrica or neurontin for the sciatic pain or an antidepressant. But I am very reluctant to such medications because of the side effects and I don't want to be a walking pharmacy, drug dependent sick boy. On the other hand the pain and the other unpleasant feelings in my leg are shattering my daily life and activities. I just can't imagine to live my entire life with that. So what can I do further:
1. Continue with pain management hoping that I will be able to switch off the medications in some point in the future.
2. Proceed with ESI. Unfortunately the doctors here in Bulgaria do not perform this procedure very often and I have to go in a private hospital for this. Not a problem but I am wondering whether it makes any sense.
3. Waiting for the pain to go away, getting accustomed to it in the mean time.
4. Throw the towel and have a microdiscectomy on L5-S1 in the best university hospital, performed by the national consultant in neurosurgery.
Up to now, I have been performing an extensive research in Internet with respect to the radiculopathy problems, disc herniations and the methods of treatment. I got so scared from all the horror stories in the forums and I think that every operation is unsuccessful. On the other side I know several people with such operations and they are doing great. What I am afraid of:
- scar tissue
- instability to spine
- more surgeries, inncluding fusion.
- long time outcome - I am 29 years, what will happen in 10 years, or in 5 or 4 years?
- no effect from the surgery (although they favour the discectomy as suitable for leg pain).
- what will happen to the other levels above that have smll protrusions?
So this is my story. Still ucrtain and in pain. I pray for all people suffering from back problems to find relief from the pain. I have never thought that I will come to such a disaster in my life.
All comments welcomed!