L5-S1: Severe stenosis, protruding disc in the extraforaminal L5


New member here.

I've been reading this forum for the past 5 months, since the beginning of my symptoms. It's been eye opening to know there are so many people who suffer as I've been

I'm writing to get some thoughts on some questions and concerns I have.

First, the reason I'm writing is because I'm looking for people who have had similar MRI results as mine- it seems like there are so many small differences in everyone's diagnosis and conditions, but I thought that there must be someone out there with the same diagnosis.

I've been suffering for 5 months now from sciatica due to a bulged/herniated disc at the L5-S1. Specifically, this is what the reading was:
Focal right posterolateral disc protrusion at L5-S1 that causes
severe right neuroforaminal stenosis and contacts the exiting L5
nerve both in the right neural foramen as well as
extraforaminally. Leftward disc bulge at L1-L2 without associated
spinal canal or neuroforaminal stenosis.

My pain has fluctuated from severe to moderate. I received my first epidural injection 10 days ago, and to be honest, not much has changed.

I just recently visited a second spine specialist who said that I might consider surgery at the 6 month mark if I'm still in pain.

My questions are:
Has anyone had similar MRI results as mine, and if so, what was the course of action/inaction?
I'm getting different responses regarding a herniated disc- my acupuncturist said it will dissolve given time, normally 6 months to 2 years. However, the spine specialist said it will never dissolve. Hmmmm . . . . Which is it?
Lastly, any advice? My wife and I are expecting twins in 6 months and I'm about as useful as a wet rag right now with this injury. Five months seems like an eternity to me.

Thanks in advance.



  • catapamcatapam AustriaPosts: 189
    Surgery can fix the problem for a period of time.
    I read that is 4 year average for the surgery benefit.
    If you perform surgery that start carrying the kids around or other weight loading activities then your good time after surgery may be shorter 

  • Thank you for the response. 

    I guess what I'm unclear about is it healing on its own.

    Everyone I've spoken to, including two spine specialists, two acupuncturists, one chiropractor, and numerous other people have said it will heal in time. I've heard months to two years. If I knew for certain it would be better in two years, I guess I would persevere and deal with it for another 1.5 years, as horrible as it is.

    My confusion is that after reading numerous posts on this site and elsewhere, I've read that it's possible that you won't get better. That is opposite from what everyone is telling me, including specialists.
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  • I am going to make a post in the forum that is longer but I wanted to comment.  I have a herniated disc at the same level. I was in pain for months, I couldn't even sit comfortably. I was going to get spinal fusion surgery because my quality of life was severely impacted.  Before, I went through with it though I started working with a Pilates instructor and I feel amazing now (It's been about 14 months from when the pain first started and six months since I started pilates twice a week). Things that helped me through this year have been Pilates, a heating pad, massage therapy and prayer! I hope you find some relief.
  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 3,413
    You have to remember everyone is different. What works for me might not work for you. Five people might tell you it's going to heal, five other people might tell you it won't. And, as sad as it is, you will never find doctors that agree with each other.
    If you don't have faith and trust in your doctor/surgeon, who can you trust? It is very important to have that with your doctor. If not, you need to find a new one.  When you got a second opinion did you ask him what are all of your options? Did he offer injections, PT,  anything for pain? 
    I understand the pain and wish I had a definite answer for you.
    Hang in there and keep us posted.

  • RickallenRRickallen MichiganPosts: 85
    X 2 What memerainbolt said . Everyone is dif. Take it at heart and do the best to take care of your self. there are 3 rules any dr. will tell you its called the blt.  bending lefting and twisting. after any surgery you need to do none of those things for as long as the dr. tells you. could be 4 weeks could be longer.  Good luck and take care of your self.
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  • Thank you for the responses.

    Yes, the second opinion dr. said that I should consider surgery at the 6 month mark if I'm not better Also, I had the injection two weeks ago and I am feeling less pain.

    Overall, my pain is manageable today, though very nagging and sore. I'm just haunted by the thought that the horrible pains will return, as they have when I've gone through similar periods of relief.

    I do like the idea of getting more into stretching and perhaps yoga and pilates.
  • MeydeyMeydey Posts: 527
    edited 07/30/2019 - 3:37 PM
    If the pain lasts longer than 3 months and there is accompanying neurological deficits, then surgery is warranted. What happened to me is a delay in treatment after my herniated discs which resulted in permanent nerve damage from it being compressed for so long. It was around 7 months from the initial injury before I had a microdiscectomy. Conservative measures failed to improve my situation (PT, ESI's, medication).

     Of course, everyone is different. My ex had a herniated disc but surgery was cancelled due to WC denying the whole claim. Lucky for him that happened because he went on to recover and resume working, although there was always mild to moderate residual pain. He ended up better than I did.

     I'm not saying that surgery is detrimental, only that if it's done within a certain window of time it can be beneficial. Back surgery either makes you better, stay the same, or get worse..I fell into the last category.
    As for stenosis, I've read that surgery can be more beneficial than conservative treatment in some cases. I have multilevel stenosis but corrective surgery is not an option for me, so I decided to try a spinal cord stimulator. I hope it will improve my function and reduce the pain. 
  • catapamcatapam AustriaPosts: 189
    edited 07/30/2019 - 3:37 PM
     "3 rules any dr. will tell you its called the blt.  bending lifting and twisting."

    what about applying those rules in our life regardless we have surgery or not
  • Thank you again for the replies.

    Yes, I want to keep going and avoid surgery if possible. I have been pretty strict about avoiding the BLT.

    As I wrote before, the cortisone shot seems to have alleviated some of the pain. It has allowed me to start stretching more. I even did a short 15 yoga video- was painful (productive pain) during, but I felt fine afterward and in the morning.

    I guess I'm just hoping that this disc matter goes away naturally, which is what the spine specialist said would happen at some point.
  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 3,413
    And it might, hope and pray it does. But we all tend to do more when we feel better. That's where we get in trouble.
    Bend at the knees. Instead of twisting, spin on your heels. I have gotten so good at that!!  And walking, it is very good for your back muscles.  
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