bulging discs nhs won't treat

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I am 27 yrs old, quite fit and healthy. After returning to work after maternity leave at 17 i had quite a few injuries, fell from horse twice, fell out of a tree, slipped on a stone floor. After 4 years of telling my dr and musculoskeletal dr that i had serious pain in my back and pins and needles/numbness in my feet he decided to send me for an mri scan, in his words ' . . . This is only for your peace of mind as i know it will not show anything . . .' Anyway the mri showed i had bulging disc l3, l4 and t2 also my coccyx showed changes resulting from self repair for a fracture. 😕 felt so relieved knowing that i had proof it wasn't in my head as they suggested.

However, i am still having symptoms of bulging discs and its gradually getting worse, the gp's say the only thing they can do is send me for 2x 6week blocks of physio a yr and painkillers (naproxen, dihydrocodeine, amitryptiline, paraceatamol and omeprazole for the stomach) he says he could give me morphine patches but i refused (was on them 5 yrs ago and dropped to 6 stone as could not stomach food or drinks only sip water) he says i qualify for surgery but they won't because of my age, same as they won't pay for chiropractic treatment and others as it will be lifelong and costly.

I paid for a private physio inbetween my 2x 6 week blocks who said he couldn't believe they won't do anything as he could feel the discs were still bulging and i needed some kind of treatment to help me. I have gone from mucking out 20 stables a day and riding 2hrs a day to struggling to drive to see my own horse.

What can i do???? I cannot afford chiropractor treatment myself as its £150 a month, can't afford to go private, can't take insurance as no one will cover it.

I also have hypermobile joints, raynauds syndrome and low iron but only Borderline.

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10 Replies

  • Posted

    Hey Rosie, stop lifting so much and working so hard. Take it easy for a few weeks and your bulging discs should reduce on their own. Your GP is correct in advising against surgery, it's a slippery slope, if you need to change career then do so-good luck and keep us posted.
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    • Posted

      Thanks joe, i have been off work for 18 months 😕 i'm bored stiff (literally!) But i think i agree with the no surgery, there isn't very good prognosis with it. But surely there must be something other then physio and 20 tablets a day. I started pilates a year ago which has helped a lot. Chiropractor helped loads but i can't afford it. Had another bad week this week 😕 so feeling a bit sorry for myself lol. No sleep last night despite muscle relaxants, painkillers, and sleepers, its like the pain makes me move 😯 confusing i know! But i cant keep still, also the worst pins and needles ever, it felt like someone was sawing my legs off and my legs just wobbled and gave way when i tried to stand. I feel like my 27 yr old brain is in dot cottons body 😑 went over on my ankle today twice, knee went, don't know where it went but a few seconds later it returned 😁 for last 6 hours i've had shakes in my legs and hands 😡 better days will be here soon . . . . . . I hope 😊
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    • Posted

      Hey Rosie, i'm truely sorry for all the crap you're getting right now. I also had 22 months off work and even now am consigned to a lowly paid part-time desk job-(i was an active electrician in a past life, lol). FYI i had a burst fracture on L1, had T12 to L2 stabilization-(bars and screws) and had them removed 18 monts' later. Pain, pain, pain, all the way. So when it comes to more surgery for an L5/S1 prolapse i say no, however, you're condition sounds serious honey. If you need an operation, then you need an operation, if things aren,t improving then think about the old addage of risk and reward-(it's the one Doctors use all the time). it's just that the pins and needles and loss of power in your leg worries me. I hope you speak to your consultant ASAP-(like tomorrow) and get some strong, straight advice. Good luck Rosie.
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    • Posted

      Oooo dear, sounds like you've had it rough too. I think it bothers me more because i used to work as sole charge at a riding school walking 3 miles a day riding 3 miles a day and mucking 20 horses out so a big change to then go into the office then to not even be doing that 😕 but i will get back to being able to sort my one horse easily soon that's what's giving me hope at the minute. On the plus side i'm doing a cpl of online courses to keep my brain ticking 😊 thanks for your concern and its good to hear from someone that has been through back pain too. I will ring them tomorrow although i think his answer will be well we'll start you back on the morphine, i'm thinking i may have to, at least it makes me loose a bit of blubber, but i much prefer to enjoy my meals and be alert for my daughter but even she's said today 'even if it does make you more tired and sick, i'd rather see u like that then in pain' bless her, she's an angel ☺ will let u know what they say tomorrow. I think if i have another night like last night a good debate with the dr will put me in a better mood ☺ have you found anything different like exercises or anything has helped you? Just not something like gymnastics lol i couldn't do back flips to start with 😁
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    • Posted

      Lol Rosie, walking has helped a lot and simple stretches, even if it just means lying flat on your back with your arms stretched out, -(i can't manage on my front yet, my core is so weak and my back gives way at the sacral area). Best of luck with the Doc, keep us posted.
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  • Posted

    Hi Rosie, sorry to hear about how bad your back is and that no real help seems to be available. I also had a fall from horse about y. 2000 and have suffered back pain since then.Sometimes worse sometimes even quite good. Don't know if there were any bulging discs or anything but at least tail bone is maldeformed. Six months or so after the fall I also had an ischiatic episode so quess there is something wrong. But I know if I went to doctor they would laugh me out of the door I know. I have had some numbness to my bum and tingling to my left leg. And walking stairs downwards is quite different to what it used to be before the fall. I kind of have to be careful taking the steps. But I get along it is not that bad most of the time. But if I don't move it can get bad. Sometimes it get's real bad when working heavy stuff and so bad it hurts it is difficult to walk even but has not gone worse, so far anyway. Not moving is the worst. Need to maintain muscles and muscle tone to support the spine. And jumping (gently) on the trampoline is great. I can feel my whole spine getting warm and totally pain free. Maybe that way the discs get some space and can "breathe". I don't recommend it to you though! : ))

    Anyway, what might be worth trying to ease the acute pain is to tie a wide headscarf round your bum. I mean tie it around at that part that is below the hip bones that stick out and above where the thigh starts. Tie it real thight. And keep it as long as you can but take it off to ensure circulation too.

    That way you might be able to relaxe the lower back muscles that I guess must be very constrained trying to support your spine. This helped me greatly when I had the ischiatic attack. That trick actually got me into an uprigt position from going on all fours to the toilet...

    Another thing that helped was to spend two days on a little sofa with heels on the other handrest, bum touching little on the cushions and head or base of head on the other headrest. That way I spent, lying real rigid with back straight. It was the only positon that I could tolerate from the pain. (I was lucky to have a fitting sofa!!!)

    But what you might try is to lift up your ribcage and shoulders and making your back long this way, while standing and walking. It would take the weight of a little from the discs.

    And do not bend your back while it is healing. Do not bend it at all but keep your back as straight as you can all the time for few days at least.

    Keep well hydrated (eat salty foods too, so you don't get too watery, that is not good either). A drink that has little sugar is taken in much better by the cells in the body than just plain water. The discs are made of liquid stuff so the hydration will help to keep them in better shape.

    Start moving as soon as the pain lets you. Because movement will bring in oxcygen and keep the circulation in the muscles and discs. Also, most pain you might have because the muscles are contracting when you try to avoid the pain.

    For me what helps is when I massage my lower back (the hip at the back). There are these knots and when pressing on them it helps relieve the tingling in the legs.

    I wish you all the best and I know also the feeling of not being able to muck out. Even if it is what it is, it is fun compared to not being able to do a thing.

    To give you hope, there was this lady who had dislocated spinal joints in her lower neck since young age. She kept riding I think until she was 70. A friend of mine had disc gone in her neck and was operated with titanium rods. She got it ok. My sister in law had ruptuded discs but now she is ok! So you will most likely to get it ok. Keep hopeful that is the main thing altough the most difficult thing to do. I know how that feels like. Keep the eyes over the hurdle so you will make it.

    And ask your doctors if they would walk a month with a small pebble in their shoe. Or would they do something about that rather...

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    • Posted

      Wow, thanks joe and heidi, lots of things to try there.

      Yeah i find keeping moving does help a lot, if i lay and do nothing i stiffen up and its worse. On my good days i do pilates stretches which to be honest have been a godsend, it strengthens your core but also stretches it.

      And yes heidi i find that laying with my shoulders raised a bit more helps. I'll try the headscarf too.

      Rang dr's today 2 wk waiting list, my symptoms do not qualify for emergency app. 😕 so i told them it didnt matter, im hoping its eased by then.

      Someone said try turmeric, pepper and oil mix, apparently its disgusting but helps on loads of things.

      Ah maybe i don't drink enough, i've always been bad with keeping up liquids lol. Will make sure i drink more.

      I've been doing a few searches and found a private back centre but it can also be accessed by nhs patients by choose and book, so when i go for my painkillers next time i'm going to ask if they could refer me there instead. ☺

      There are quite a few good points of being injured though 😉 I have cleared my old clothes out and made my dogs new rope toys from them so they are happy.

      Thankyou both of you i'm sure i'll be back fighting fit soon 😇

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    • Posted

      You are welcome and I hope you get relief. It can be a long time though: I remember sitting 6 months after the accident on the edge of my chair in the office work with my back absolutely straight. Then I had the ischias attack. After that I can't remember how it was because my horse was having issues with its hooves and that was more important at the time I guess... But when I went to see the doctor, after suffering many days of the ischiatic attack, i remember she said, when I struggled to get on the examination bed, that I should take on aerobics. She was looking at the cellulite on my tights apparently. I was struck dumb. So much so that after that I have not seen a doctor about my back pain ever again, or even mentioned it to anyone but now... And have gotten along quite ok. Altough I have not taken up aerobics (LOL) I have mucked off hundres of boxes and ridden many horses, and fallen off again, too. Pain in itself is not dangerous unless it gets worse and if you lose function.

      I don't however recommend to you to get back to real rigorous labor work, because had I been more easy with that I think my back would serve me better now.... I estimate I will get some more serious problems in my later years (if God allows me to see them that is). So be careful about yours and strenghten the core. (Love thyself!)

      I also have over mobile joints. I think that it is important to keep the muscles strong and big, because they stabilize the joints. Streching of the muscles and joints too much I do not recommend. They give in at the wrong places, at the ligaments if they get streched, and there is more stress to the joint itself in the long run, compared to normal people.

      I find my stiffness goes away best with excercise. The muscles bulge up because of the improved blood flow and circulation, and when they bulge up, they "tighten" the ligaments going over the joints. That in turn stabilizes the joints and there is less unwanted movement and the musces can stay relaxed when they don't need to use themselves so much to stabilize the joint. That way the muscles can relax and become less stiff generally. Of course movement itself takes the stiffness away taking away via improved blood flow as the debris and other sfuff like lactate adic goes out of the muscles. Moving is a daily thing to do to me and the only painless moment on some days.

      I was using morphine after an another accident, and what it did to me was to make me really weak in my muscles. I did not realise or know it at the time. I remember that after two weeks on morphine I was hardly able to take the dog out the first time and walk it round the corner. I had to lean on a tree I felt so weak. I later learned morphine can do that, it makes muscles weak. Also, when I stopped taking it I got slight fever as a withdrawal symptom (oh yeah I was a junkie and did not know it!). Then the doctors thought I had a bacterial infection in the wound but nothing was found in the cultures. So maybe it does not have these effects on you but maybe good to remember this if you kind of "deterioriate". (Lower back pain does not make you feel a weakling overall)

      Thus I think that taking morphine and at the same time working on strengtht might not be that simple but challenging. (Maybe you could ask for reumozol instead that they give to horses, or something else).

      The positive thing about my problems is that I've kind of gotten to terms with the fact that I won't be an ""Olympic level"" rider ( this is joke: I ever never was to be so on technical level as I'm not talented, but there still was the Olympic level "want" to be as good as possible, if you know what I mean, and for the art of it, not for the competitive side), so this passion for horses has eased a bit. They used to mean everything to me. Life is easier now that it is not so. There is less frustration over that I just cannot train and ride so much as I would like. This has been teaching me the skill of letting go. You see, I'm kind of black and white: either it is everything or then nothing. I'm coming to terms with the option of nothing, and what is positive, it that it does not hurt so much, anymore.

      At the moment I'm starting to look in other directions and stuff to be passionate about. That is my challenge now. It is quite difficult to find a cause worthy enough to put in all my energy.

      It was nice "talking" to you. Be "patient" about the back problems. It can take a while to sort out. I wish you all the best and good luck!

      All the best to Joe too, that is a tough job to handle, rehabilitation like that. Hope you have a good team to support you.

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    • Posted

      Rosie, i tried tumeric and gave myself really bad indigestion, my stomach couldn't handle it. True, it's good for nerve endings but not at the cost of a stomach ulcer, lol.
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  • Posted

    Thanks heidi,

    Yeah, i find the same, if i keep moving although painful it does ease it quite a lot over the coming days.

    I've promised the horse 😄 that when his tooth is better i will dose myself up and take him for a stroll, i figured that the drs told me 6 yrs ago i shouldnt ride but physio said it would help my back as the motion of a horses gait will strengthen my muscles. So no matter if i get stuck on him n not able to get off i am riding him, only a walk for 10 mins twice a week, as long as he doesnt buckaroo (his party trick in canter) i should be fine and the movement may help me in the long run. And if all fails at least it will lift my mood n make me happy for a few days. 😁

    I'm starting to do a few jobs with him as it is eventually easing a bit from the other day. So we have a nice brushed horse.

    I think when it is bad i throw a paddy and get monk on then as it starts to improve i get a little happier and retrieve my teddy haha.

    Thanks guys for your help 😊 really did lift me up a bit. 😆

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