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Back Problems Message Board

Back Problems Board Index

Hello all, my names Jeff and I'm a 28 yr old male. I currently have some really bad pain in my butt, hamstring, and calf area. At first I felt like it was a pulled muscle but the issue has lasted for over 1 year now. I tried to tough it out as I always try to "man-up"! But unfortunately the pain is winning. I feel like my whole leg is cramped and its hard to walk, sit, lay down, sack up with the old lady... One of the worst parts of my day is trying to go to the bathroom, (#2), I feel like the pain is so bad, I refer to that part of my day as a terrible party as I have to do the YMCA to alleviate the pain in my butt and hamstring. Reaching for the towel rack twisting and pulling the sink, reaching for the shower curtain, just terrible pain...But it doesn't really help. I often can't even go to the bathroom because of the pain. My sleeping has gotten worse, at first I could sleep fine and just be stiff in the morning, but it turned into I have to sleep on my back or stomach as sleeping on either side put to much pressure on my hip. Now I can ONLY sleep on my stomach. The pain is bad enough that I can't even consider a different position. I normally only get about 5 hours of sleep now.(if I'm lucky). I have had times lately where when I get up in the morning I can't put any pressure on my left leg. It feels like my hip is gonna fall apart and it is dangling by the muscles only. Putting my shoes on in the morning has become a big deal. A 5-10 minute process now. I usually wear really supportive boots but I can't hardly bend over to put my socks on or put my boots on. I've actually had to have someone help me get my shoes on because the pain is so bad at times. I have bought some really soft comfortable sneakers I tied loosely to slip on and off though, so I've been wearing them lately. I don't really have any back pain at all. It seems to be all in my left hip and leg area. I am a Marine veteran and because I don't have insurance, I started going to the VA clinic back in March of 2013. I just want to say thank you to all the tax payers on here because the return of your tax dollars for my 4 year duty is helping me with what is now holding my whole life back it seems. So thank you. Your money is going to a good cause. But as anyone in the service will tell you the process is slow using the VA. They took xrays of my back and told me everything was fine and I shouldn't be in any discomfort. They said they would do PT but that got canceled before even going to the 1st appt. So they offered a chiropractor instead. I have gone to the chiropractor since April, it is mid June now. Absolutely no help. I've gone about 20 times now. So they did new xrays, this time of my hips, again no issues found and they said I should be fine and to just take it easy. So I bitched and complained to them over about a weeks time to get an MRI. Finally they caved and I got it. The MRI revealed a disc rupture/herniation at L5-S1. The doc said no PT or chiropractor was going to help the issue I have so they have now cut me off from either and said the only solution is surgery. I'm not really happy about that, but I feel like the pain is just mentally fatiguing me as much as I already am physically. I feel like I could beat my head against the wall it's so bad. I can't sit for more than 30 minutes. It affects my daily life and impedes on any activity. I literally research the type of chairs restaurants and bars have before going to decide on whether or not I go, I bought new furniture at home, a new bed, new shoes, an inversion table, back massager, no help at all. So, enough complaining to you! I just wanted you to get an idea of the gravity of my situation. I'm nervous about surgery and would like to hear from anyone with similar issues that has gone through surgery already. Or anyone that has found non-surgical relief. What should I expect? Did your life get any better? I have read other threads on here and I love em. To all those who have back pain, keep up the good fight and keep your head up. Always be looking forward. Just reading other threads makes me feel like there is really a "brotherhood/sisterhood" mentality on here and although this is my first post I feel like we can all support eachother and and be there with some encouragement! Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing back from you with some information. Any advice is wanted! Have a great day all!
Welcome to the board...and thank you for your service.

Do you have access to an orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon? If so, have you had a consultation? I'm glad you finally had a MRI and I am sorry to hear the VA did not offer one sooner. It can be dangerous going to a chiropractor prior to knowing what is actually causing your pain. Some treatments can actually make some situations worse, particularly if nerves are involved.

Have you had a flexion/extension x-ray to check for spondylolisthesis? This is a condition where one vertebra slides over the top of the adjacent vertebra, and this x-ray shows your spine bending and extending to check for instability.

What type of surgery is recommended -- perhaps a discectomy? It sounds like you have nerve compression that is causing the pain in your hip, leg, etc. The problem going to the bathroom is concerning as the L5-S1 nerves control and bladder and bowel function. If you are on pain meds, you may be constipated. When there is a disc herniation, straining has the potential to make the injury worse.

Do you have a copy of the MRI report? If so, you might want to copy it off here -- we are not doctors, but many of us, through years of experience are able to get a good idea of what the report is indicating...there may be some other things going on that would influence how you should be treated.

Normally with a ruptured disc, the customary treatment would first be a course of physical therapy, oral medications to help with inflammation and pain, a series of epidural steroid injections, which sometimes can help the disc to be reabsorbed. When these conservative treatments fail, it is time to at least consider surgery...but it should not be entered into casually.

You need to be sure that it is done by an orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon whose practice is limited to the neck and back. You don't want a general surgeon doing the procedure...because, believe it or not, you could come out worse and in more pain than you are in now.

In the meantime, in case no one has told you, you need to avoid ANY activity that involves bending or twisting at the waist, pushing, pulling, reaching up overhead or to the side, and a restriction on how much you lift or carry (10 pounds or so). Limit sitting to 15-20 minutes at one time -- then get up, walk a bit before resuming sitting if it is necessary.

Regarding sleeping, the best positions are sleeping on the side with a small pillow between the knees to keep the spine in alignment, or on the back with pillow/s under the knees. You may need a variety of sizes of pillows to prop yourself up in a somewhat comfortable position.

Sometimes discs will heal on their own...but since you have been in chronic pain for over twelve months, it is probably unlikely that this will happen in your case.

I look forward to your responses and hope that we can provide some support and information to you.
Yeah, I want to do all I can to avoid surgery if possible. However it hurts bad enough that I just want it gone! I understand where your coming from and I feel the same way. The issue at hand is probably damaging the rest of my body. I have to sit,stand,and lay down in awkward positions in order to alleviate the most severe pain, which is in my left hip. So I fear damage is happening to the rest of the pieces as other areas hurt pretty bad too. But at the same time if surgery weakens my vertebra to fix the pain its kind of a no win situation! I am going to attack PT with a positive attitude even though I doubt it will help. But everyone's different and who knows I may be that 1 out of a million! I will keep you posted on the results. I just got off the phone with the PT coordinator and I start PT next Friday June 28th. Well I wish you the best of luck with your decision and although we're physically hurting, we're self healing by talking!

Thank you to all for all of your appreciative remarks regarding my military service. I would do it all over again, and I truly believe in America and what America stands for. Even though it seems at times we act like monkey's fitting a square peg in a round hole!
I enjoy your sense of humor. Glad it is still intact. Sciatic pain is really one of the worse things to go through.

You are both right that having a painful disc can result in the rest of the spine being thrown out of alignment. The body automatically fights to remain in balance, and when one area is in pain, the muscles surrounding it go into "guarding" mode. This often results in muscle cramps or spasms, or feelings of tightness.

As much as possible, try to maintain good posture -- try not to give in to favoring the one side. Avoid sitting on soft furniture that you sink into. You will find that it is more painful to have your buttocks lower than your knees. I still find riding or driving some cars really uncomfortable, but am fine in a van or SUV where the position is more like sitting in a straight chair and the hip and knee are more-or-less at the same level. Sometimes an ergonomic computer chair with arms is the best seat while in pain.

Drink lots of water. Do not smoke...hopefully you don't, but if you do, try to quit. And no nothing that stresses that bad disc.

If you do not have spondylolisthesis, you can follow the McKenzie exercises. The program is described in Robin McKenzie's book, "Treat Your Own Back." This program has helped many to heal a herniated disc without having to resort to surgery.
Hey guys and gals, thanks for all the tips. Last night I didn't get much sleep. I tried a pillow between my knees and holy cow! My hip was on fire! I had to switch pillows, change angles, and eventually sleep on the floor! When I got up this morning around 5 or so, again I couldn't put any pressure on my leg. I literally had to "walk it off" pacing around the house like a crazy person! Now that some time has gone by its not as bad. I really can not sleep in any position other than on my stomach. Any other way and it just can't happen.

Well enough of doom and gloom! It's the weekend! I have researched the epidural shot. When I go to PT I am going to ask them who I need to request something like that from. I will reach out to my doctor about maybe nerve meds, I currently take Tramadol 50mg. It doesn't do anything really. I have recently started using ice. It does feel good, however once the "icing' goes away Mr. Pain and his lackeys return! But it is something i will be doing more often. As far as chairs go, I do have a rather "soft" chair and I sit funny in it to stay straight. I sit in my computer chair more often now and it is better.

I do have a question, did any of you feel like you were just at like a mental wits end while dealing with your issue? I feel mentally drained by all of this. And I do think I waited to long to seek help, almost a year and a halfs time. How much time would you say you devoted pre-treatment to attempt to make yourself feel physically better? It seems like my whole day is wrapped around making my environment around me better for my pain. It's really weird! I wonder if the VA is sending me to PT knowing that surgery is inevitable and they are just trying to get my core built up so recovery will be better. My friend and I talked about it last night. And that's what we think. He had back surgery too. He was an Army medic and he got hit by an ied and messed him all up. He had MD on L3-L5 thru the VA. He is already slated for more surgery too. He tells me about how much relief he's gotten from it and how he would do it all over again, but he is worried because not all of the pain is gone and he still has issues that need addressed. We decided that we are gonna start goin on walks together and try to keep eachothers spirits up. Sounds weird though huh? 2 guys goin on walks together! It does sound funny! But then again who cares! My [email protected] [email protected] back hurts!

Well I hope you are all having a great Saturday! To those still fighting the good fight, stay positive, keep your head up, and always be marching forward! What ever doesn't kill us, makes our backs hurt! hahahaha
Hi noobjeff. I wanted to respond to your post because upon reading it I felt like I was reading my own. I too have been going through all the pain your going through. I am a 25 yr old female.

I have gone to the nuerosurgeon twice, I've done PT twice, I've had 2 mri and an x ray. Because I had the left leg pain for so long I eventually lost feeling in my left lower leg and foot. During my second round of pt they did traction and in my experience pt made my back and legs worse. I now have the same severe pain in my right leg and hip.

I have also gone to a physiatrist which wasn't enough for me.

I have been on tremedol 50 and 100. I've been on prednizone, cymbalta, ibuphophen 800, vicodin, I've also tried other meds too that had antiinflammatories in it. Nothing helped.

I am going to see a nuerologist on Tuesday finally. And I'm also going to see an ortho spine specialist and a rhumetologist thanks to suggestions on here.

I know how disruptive this ordeal is to your life. And any info or suggestions I can offer I will. I hope you continue to keep us updated. The people on healthboards have been so supportive and really understand what's going on. GL
Hey, thanks for your kind words. I try to be as positive as possible. It's all I have left! I did try a slimmer pillow between my legs last night. Slept on my right side for about 2 hours. Had to get out of bed around 3 am, my left hip was screaming! I got up and walked around for about 30 minutes. Well hobbled! Then I tried to lay back down, this time with the pillow still but on my left side. It lasted about 20 minutes. Rolled on my back and almost immediately had to flip to my stomach. My shoulders get sore but seriously sleeping on my stomach is it. Unless I sleep on the floor. Before I went to bed last night I did about 3 hrs of alternating ice 15-20 min each hour. It did help for a little bit. But once the ice sensation left the pain was back. I have noticed in the passed couple days that I get this tingling sensation in my "ring toe" on my left foot. Not sure if you call it that. But the toe next to my pinky toe. You know the one that goes wee wee wee all the way home! I have had pain for well over a year and this is a first for me. I hope thats not a sign of it worsening.

I really do appreciate everyone that has chimed in and also for letting me vent a little. It seems like my family, friends, and co-workers just don't get it..... It has literally altered my entire perception on life. For those that have had surgery already, do you feel like your life has gotten better at least mentally now that the pain relief is there? Or are you constantly thinking about re-aggravation? Almost like substituting 1 mental aspect for another. Well I can't sit any longer so I'm going to go.
I've had random pain in my foot before. It swelled and was really painful. But went away after a couple days. I've never had any numbness or tingling. Tingling has just started the passed couple days. It's almost like the tingling is right between the middle and "ring" toe. Almost drawing your eyes down just for you to see your foot flipping you off and the devilish chuckles are making the tingle! Stupid foot!

Have any of you felt better trying to twist and turn your back trying to alleviate the pain? I do. But I feel like I'm doing more damage by being awkward, but if I don't stand or sit funny, I'm likely to never move! Is it better to twist, crack, and pop or try to stay vertical? It's difficult to sit completely vertical. Feels like someones gonna rip my hip socket apart!

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