Advice DDD L5 Slipped Disc

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About 5 months ago I started getting pain in my right leg wherever I would walk for >10 minutes or do some jogging. Over a period of several weeks it started to get worse, the pain would occur more frequently and be more painful. I first saw the doctor about 3 months ago and he suspected a slipped disc / DDD, he recommended we give it some time and re-visited the situation 4 weeks later.

By that point the pain got worse so about 2 months ago I had an MRI which confirmed that I had a slipped disc L1 and pressing against the nerves.

What I find really strange about my condition is that walking, jogging, standing for long periods, as well as sitting at my desk working on my computer can trigger incredible pain. However other activities eg. washing the car only triggers mild discomfort!

I spoke to a specialist doctor and he recommended we try steroid injections but he told me he was fairly certain that given my scan and symptoms, primarily that the duration over which I have these issues and how it limits simple things like commuting that I am likely to require surgery to cut away the part of the disc that has slipped out of place.

I wanted some advice on two aspects of this:


1. Regarding whether injections followed by surgery is the best route? I was told I will be out of action for a number of weeks post op, unable to work and may struggle with caring for my two young kids. Should I explore other treatments?

Pre-treatment Work and Meds

2. While I wait for treatment I find that I struggle to concentrate on work. I have a desk job in central London and I have already stopped commuting as that is too painful. The standing and walking for long periods is too much. The situation now is that even working from home sitting at my home desk I get very uncomfortable and can't concentrate. I have had someone setup my desk and give me advice but sitting at the laptop for 1-2 hours causes pain. The doctor has prescribed zapain 2x 30mg tablets every 6 hours but they only seem to take the edge off for a couple of hours. So on a good day I can work for a couple of hours, have tablets that'll get me through to lunch and then I am struggling for the rest of the day. I can't be sure but I think the drugs are making me feel when I take these meds but can't be certain.

Are zapain tablets effective for most people? Is it normal for these drugs not to take the pain away totally? Do others feel drowsy/sluggish with these tablets?

Regarding work , I am doing my best to carry on and deliver on my responsibilities but its getting much harder. I am almost at a point where I want to ask my doctor to give me a week at home off work to rest up but not sure if this generally acceptable.

It's been a while having this issue and can't help but feel low about the situation. any help would be appreciated.

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  • Posted

    Just to make a correction, in the title I refer to L5 but in the body I say L1.

    It is L5 lower back which is the issue.

    Also, towards the end of the OP I wasn't clear: I can't be sure but I think the drugs are making me feel DROWSY when I take these meds but can't be certain.

    Lack of ability to concentrate in the afternoon there you go!


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  • Posted

    Hi,it sounds like what I had a prolapse disc.i had lots of epidurals but after a while they wear off.i took

    Amytriptolene and co-codamol and naproxen for pain relief.then I had a micro-discectomy on the L4 L5 disc.

    I was off work for 6 weeks,worked good for a while but I had a fall and mucked it up,so I had to have a spinal

    Fusion on same disc. 4 and a half months later and I,m still doing physio but getting their.hope this helps.

    Good luck hope u get sorted.


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  • Posted

    Hi, We are all different when it comes to treatments especially involving problems with the skeletal frame and the only professional advice you are going to benefit from is the Specialist himself who's hands your luckily in. I know from experience us patients have got to be just that; but do go back and express your fears including any treatment you have been given which is not successfully helping you in any way.

    Lastly, do not undertake any decision without the help of family, close friends and just as important your Doctor. I'm sure it will all come together in the end and you're certainly not out there all alone, there are hundreds of us wrapped up in the same predicaments thinking of the same things. Keeping you in my thoughts.............................Ron.

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  • Posted

    I've mentioned this before, but I'll mention it again:

    Do not accept a so-called "Micro-discectomy" operation without asking and finding out about an Endoscopic Discectomy operation. You mention that the specialist told you that it would take several weeks to recover. It sounds to me as though he is referring to the former. It is a rather old-fashioned op. that leaves a several inch scar down the bottom of your back. Scars aren't just cosmetically unpleasant because scar tissue is less flexible, doesn't heal the same way and can cause back pain issues in the future.

    If you are suitable for an Endoscopic Discectomy (and most NHS hospitals do not offer this - it costs c.£10K in the private sector) then the specialist just uses a c.1cm insertion point to remove parts of the slipped disc. They use various modern endoscopic cutting equipment with cameras and therefore do not need to cut into the back, strip away the muscles and cut some of the bone away as well, which is what happens if the you have the old-fashioned "micro-discectomy."

    As for Spinal Injections, I have found them useful. They become less useful with time, but whilst they work for you, they must be better than an operation, or at least that's what I think, anyway.

    On a final note: Beware of an operation: I met a lady when I was having a spinal injection who had had the operation only to find that the disc next to it eventually slipped and prolapsed as well! One can only assume that they had taken so much disc out that it caused a strain on the rest of the spine. The result was 2 slipped discs. Obviously, if the thing has massively slipped out and is causing real mobility problems, and just won't retract, then you may have to consider an operation. But do go into it with your eyes open.

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