Narrow escape for surgery on prolapsed L5/S1

Posted , 7 users are following.


I'm hoping people who've been through this before might be able to help? Some context:

I hurt my back in April/May 2012 and began to get Sciatica that Summer. Fast forward nearly two years later and I've just this morning postponed a Microdiscectomy. In August 2013 I hit the floor literally, the disc just had enough and I couldn't do anything - at the end of Sept I saw a spinal surgeon who put me on the list for the op after MRI. In the meantime I've been on Gabapentin (1800mg a day) and rested completey. I got a call 3 weeks back giving me an op date for next Monday. I'd already started to come off the Gaba (couldn't take the side effects anymore) and continued to decrease the dosage up until I stopped them around ten days ago. Since then my Sciatica hasn't returned in any kind of severity as before, which I thought must be the Gabapentin still in my system but apparently no!

Obviously there's a massive sense of relief but trepidation too. My muscles are weak and tight, and I know it's going to take time to give myself the best chance of avoiding a repeat in the future but I need to know the best way to do that.

They now don't want me to have the operation and I'm now so happy there was a long delay between getting on the waiting list and to being scheduled for the op. Obviously I feel like a ticking time bomb I'd like some advice on the following if anyone can help:

- What type of exercises do people do to manage symptoms on a daily basis?

- Anyone tried Pilates?

- Any supplements, alternative medication people swear by?

- How long before you returned to sport - properly?

- Does anyone have a similar story?

Thanks so much for any help and if anyone wants to ask me anything about my experience, feel free!

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11 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi I had microdiscoptomy and pain injections racz catheter , cookin the nerves ,ect still on going for me but every one is different I may have to have this done again or spinal stimulator fitted hope your better soon smile
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  • Posted

    Glad your on the mend beekster .I tried to reduce the pain meds when one day i woke up with not much pain only to be back to square one .Im on a waiting list for the op but they have no idea when i will be seen .I do know Ive got worse because when i hospital when the pain first started i didnt have any leg pain or nerve pain that was last that was last june .I now have burning nerve pain in both feet and it strikes out of nowhere .Im scared of the op but can not live like this anymore i wish i could just get up in the morn and go to work or i know this might sound petty but i miss wearing heels haha and having a social life .I wonder if i just wait and try a bit longer will it heal i just cant see it happening since every couple of weeks something else starts happening to add to the pain to I already have !
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  • Posted

    The only thing I can add from my experience is that I was in agony and desperate too when I agreed to surgery 6 months ago. I went on Gabapentin which settled the nerve pain in about a month, had physio and rested...lots!!! Now I'm aware of the problem I will try to manage it and wouldn't opt for surgery unless it was absolutely last resort. The Gaba was hardcore for me but it definitely worked and has given my nerve time to settle. Fingers crossed for the future, for us all
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  • Posted

    I too was given the gab but i had a reaction to it so they have me on lyrica not that it works still get the burning pain in my feet like i am being bitten by insects all over comes and goes every day .All i seem to do is rest sad makes no difference suppose i just gotta give it time !
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  • Posted

    I'm sorry to hear that. I had the same electric like feeling in my foot too, it was like it was stuck in a bear trap - horrible. I seem to be getting better 18 months after it all started so there is hope. I more a less did nothing for six months - no bending, twisting or lifting. Hope it improves for you, I know how frustrating and soul destroying it is.
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    • Posted

      Hi there I've been having similar problems ever since my wedding holiday 5 years ago after noticing some minor back pain after playing football at the weekends which I did regular for over 15 years. Anyhow since then at first it would go and I would be in agony for a few hours until I rested up and it settled down, at this time I had no idea what was going on so just had a day off work and rested even more, upon going back to work(I'm electrician) which involved some heavy work and alot of walking at times and long days at it was the Olympic project at the time in Stratford, this was a common occurrence every few months and I started seeing a chiropractor who helped in the short term so carried in seeing him for a year or so had accupunture a couple of times various back cracking and manipulation routines but it never seemed to get rid of it or make things better so 3 years on and after having a convo with a mate who was a sports physio he said i needed an mri to look at what the problem is, and getting depressed I went to my doctor explained everything and put me into the local physio who showed me a few exercises and palate routines that could help, a bit sceptical I tried em out but not regular just when I had time really, I didn't feel these were helping and continued to have problems, I got referred to a specialist and they gave me an MRI which highlighted the problem L5S1 disc and the one above this L4 I think.

      Numerous convos with the wife about surgery and what to do next but continued with the exercises and everytime I had pain would icepack take naproxen and 2 codeine and my back seemed to improve gradually over the next few months and decided I would leave it for now and continue the routine of exercises which seemed to be making a significant difference now, over the next year to now I even started playing football again as well as golf and although I'm always cautious at work and lift from the knees don't lift anything heavy anymore I'm pain free for long periods and haven't had a back lapse or disc bulge for well over a year !

      I would really recommend doing these exercises but although they at first don't seem to work and cause pain in the short, long term and as the muscles build around that area I'm almost certain this is the reason for the vast improvement to my back and my daily life, I've even upped the anti and started doing body weight core training to strengthen the area even more. 

      This said I've been having a few problems lately but I'm pretty sure this is due to a stomach strain I've had and I've not been able to do my exercises for a while as I need to rest that area, so gonna get back to it today and hope it helps me again. 

      Hope this helps as I've been to hell and back with this and I'm convinced the exercises played a massive part in getting out of the rut I was in, I almost forgot I'd had a bad back in spells it was that good. 

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  • Posted

    Hi there my story is almost the same as yours! 10 years later with proper exercise and discipline I feel much better, my back hurts only when I stand in one spot for to long and when I dont exercise for few days. I tried pilates but not in the begining. I returned to sport (boxing) in 9months.

    I do my exercise routine every day (20-30 minutes)

    You have to learn litteraly how to move, not to put to much pressure on your back. 

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  • Posted

    Thanks sofia45080 and richard48342! It's nice to hear some 'success' stories!

    It's a couple of months since I first posted this and I'm continuing to progress well, good and bad days but starting to get my life back bit by bit and playing golf again too.

    Can I just ask you both what exercises you were doing? At the moment I do a stretching routine - 5/10 mins and a core 'workout' for 15 mins a day - consists of hip raises, bird dog etc. I'd be really interested to find out what you guys do on a daily basis as I'm looking to move things on a bit. I'm under the guidance of a physio but the programmes are quite generic, it'd be interesting to see what you've done in real life.

    Richard - funnily enough I've had a mild stomach/hip strain (Psoas, I believe) and I'm starting to wonder how much my hips, core and glutes actually contributed to the sciatica in addition to the disc prolapse. If I whack the tennis ball under and around the hip crest it seems to sort it out for a few days!

    Thanks again for getting back to me and hopefully letting me know what exercises you've done wink

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    • Posted


      Short version

      Diagnosed with L5 prolapse after 6 months of right foot spasm and cramping out of toes, also a bit of drop foot where I had to drop the foot quickly to stop foot cramp. In those 6 months it was hell. Thought I was going off my legs and gona b a cripple. They tested veins, diazepam for stress and then found my prolapse after MRI. did 30 mins core exercise every morning for 3 months and it eased up. Now after 5 years of core exercise things going well. Started cardio 2 years but always a numb right got for 2 hours after. 9 months ago started good weights for upper body and really enjoying it. Leg press 50kg 3 sets of 12. Get numb right foot for an hour so only this 2 times weekly and upper body 3 times week. Two weeks ago had accident in land rover in turkey. Fractured T10 across which is 6 vertebrae away from L5. Bed rest in hospital 1 week, back home and again cramp in right foot feel gone back 8 years. But in plus side prolapse no worse than 7 years ago, so yes going to exercise core whilst T10 mending, docs said not to do core for 8weeks but I can't. The numb foot depressing me rolleyes

      Have dun small low core exercise with not mad back lifting and lots of big bum muscle exercise and right foot feels better. So a massive YES to core stability exercise. Once T10 mended I'm going on diet (lost 10lbs) in last two weeks. Reduce carbs. Stay on fruit and protein & veg. Lower cal intake to 1000 a day. Weight is massive strain on spine. You only have 1, look after it. Don't keep back straight, keep the S in it. Do core every morning. It's such a big part to keeping spine with the correct shape. Good luck smile

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  • Posted

    Hi ive just joined forum..

    My situation is the same as most.ive been having low back issues for over 4 years.ive had numerous visits to my pt..which always helps.i find build a good relationship with ur pt so you dobt need to see numerous pts..i had a issue back in June 14 so decided to have an mri.which showed 

    L5s1 small bulge..ive completely changed my eating habits.lost weight and i exercise everyday..i swim 5 days aweek and i attend pilates twice a week..its early days as i still have central low back pain which come and goes.exercise definitely helps even tho im always weary and cautious...when im at work i exercise in intervals when im not busy by stetching and do 5 mins of pilates every few only 40..n like every one ive played football tennis and snooker.anh hope to get back to the future.but at the moment is focused on getting strobger core to try and make sure of no relapse.its guna be hard but will hopefully be worth it..ive considered operation.but found once tthey open you up ur more prone to future relapses..i will say when exercising ur body WILL tell you if ur over doing it..its a long road but i feel well worth it

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  • Posted


    I have had L5S1 DDD and Doc said my spine is like old man when I was 23. Now i have been living with this pain for 5 years. Shoulder pain, hip pain and back pain, leg weakness and nerve sting at foot. Same story, pain to walk, pain to sit, pain to carry heavy things, etc. I will skip those same repeated story. Please let me share my experiences I learn over these  5 years for better manage the pain without going to surgery.

    Key is POSTURE at every position. Right Posture will lead to natural shape of spine. 

    CHECK your posture, do you have flat feet? Knocked knee? Round Shoulder? Pelvic Tilt? If yes, i think although u do fushion, it will just add more stress to spine and lead to more damage in future. With or without surgery posture is important.

    Here is a list of things that add positive effect on my DDD problems. I will try to make it short.

    1) Lifestyle

    Sleep, Sit ,Walk, Work - every position, I try to stay in right posture as much as i can. E.g. I slept with tempur mattress, I sit with proper support and G Cushion, I use backjoy slipper, I use monitor stand and adjustable desk.

    Dont ever try to lift heavy things!!! Try to change bit by bit and be patient. Old habit hard to change. 

    2) Chiropractic Treatment and Functional Pattern Exercises

    A GOOD Chiropractor put my spine back into correct position but the muscle are full with scar tissues and trigger points so the spine is pulled back to bad shape although Chiropractor fix me. A good chiropractor will always tell you to exercise along side chiropractic care.  

    What exercise? Rather than traditional Stretching, I would recommend swimming and/or Functional Pattern Exercises

    Functional Pattern Exercises are designed for posture correction, 

    Stage A - Self-Myofiscal Release - using lacrosse ball, theracanes

    Stage B - Static Stretching

    Stage C - Corrective Exercises 

    I am currently training with Naudi Aguila, Human Foundation videos. Try in Youtube for free.

    3) Nutrition

    -Glucosamin is very good for Disc. 

    -Good diet, if you put on weight, it will put more pressure on your spine. If you are overweight, try to reduce weight as much as u can by controlling ur diet. 

    Now I can walk sleep sit with very very very mild pain as long as I dont go beyond this boundary. I ll say i m not totally normal again. But i m 80% healed except i cant carry heavy things and i cant sit or sleep improper posture. Gonna be long journey!!!

    Learn, research, consult experts, experiment, get stronger everyday and dont give up!!! Hope it help a little smile

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