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Any back pain sufferers able to offer me some advice.

(15 Posts)
bananaskin123 Wed 15-Mar-17 08:38:57

Back story: had sciatica which started a week ago. Never ever had it before and never had a problem with my back except for osteoporosis which I had been on treatment for five years but following a DEXA scan was told I didn't need treatment until the n ext scan in May of this year.

The sciatic pain started in my knee and radiated from there. Painkillers just weren't touching it. Luckily I managed to get an MRI which showed an annular tear and was offered injections yesterday which were CT guided L4/5 and L5/S1 facet joint plus left L4 nerve root injection. Had them early yesterday evening.

Feeling so much better today but the left leg still feels a bit "wobbly" ie when I try to run upstairs just doesn't feel as secure as it was before all this. Is this normal and I'm expecting too much too soon. Any exercises recommended. I suppose I have lost confidence a bit. I'd never known a pain so intense as sciatica. Sufferers have all my sympathy now.

Also the radiologist mentioned degenerative changes in the spine. How do you keep fit to try and avoid any more treatment in the future, ie an op. I do Pilates but haven't been for about three weeks so maybe I need to get back to that pretty quickly.

So many questions, sorry! I know there are some experts here who will know the answers.

allypally999 Thu 16-Mar-17 09:42:02

Sorry I saw this yesterday and then forgot (old age!) but this is my Mastermind topic though I only have my own experience to go by.

You might be expecting too much too soon. I had back surgery around 10 years ago (after a year of excruciating pain) and it was a full 3 years before I stopped recovering to around 80% of what I was. I have one "dead" leg which is quite common and no-one is bothered about it but sounds like yours could be temporary and you can build up strength with exercises. My bad back generally appears as leg or hip pain now but it all comes from my back which is rarely sore unless I overdo it or sleep in a strange bed (holidays are hell).

I aquired my exercises from various physios over the years but they are all to build up core strength (or butt muscles as mine have disappeared now) so you can Google that though Pilates is good too. If anything hurts stop immediately. Always listen to your body because if you don't and it goes into spasm you will regret it. Trust me that's the worst pain ever. I have had it twice and called out a doc both times (I believe he gave me morphine the first time and diazepam the second).

As regards medication I take co-codomal (the prescription ones which are stronger) or sometimes just codeine. I have tried Tramadol but didn't like them. Most days I survive with just paracetamol and iboprofen. At the weekends I have a drink and that's my favourite painkiller but the minute you stop drinking the pain comes back.

Ask me anything you like and I will try to answer.

bananaskin123 Thu 16-Mar-17 09:52:35

Thanks Ally, that's really helpful. Definitely am on the mend but just don't trust that leg yet. I'm going back to Pilates next week hopefully but will scour the internet whilst I'm home. Got a doc appointment today so will ask her about the co-codamol. My dh was prescribed 30/500 mg . Are those the ones you have, if so he never took them (don't ask!) so I have 100 here if I need them.

What sort of back surgery did you have if you don't mind me asking. I don't know much about annular tears but I've been told by others that sometimes you have as much as three caudal injections before they sometimes remove the disc. I agree about the weekend drink(s)!!

BertrandRussell Thu 16-Mar-17 09:56:38

An I just share one thing that helped my dp sooooooo much?

A physio he saw once told him that every morning he should get up, walk round a bit (no exercise, just walk to the loo or the kitchen) then go back to bed for 10 minutes before getting up properly. Apparently you get fluid build up in the spinal discs overnight, and the initial walk starts it moving. Sounds daft, but he really notices if he doesn't do it.

allypally999 Thu 16-Mar-17 10:38:42

That's true .. I always get up and go to the loo then go back to bed and read for a bit before I do my exercises.

Yes it was the 500/30 ones .. the codeine bit gives me a slight high which is a nice break but they are addictive (and bung you up!). I keep codeine for really bad days.

I had disc removed L4/5 and laminectomy (bone removed). Now I am having L3/4 causing pains in my legs but nothing compared to what it was and not keen on 2nd op so no MRI yet. You do get to be quite tough.

From what I can gather from fellow sufferers the injections are a hit or miss .. they don't always work so you are lucky but they do need redone every 6? months or so.

bananaskin123 Thu 16-Mar-17 12:58:53

Thanks for the good advice both. Just been to doc and he's signed me off for a week so I can "mobilise" rather than sit at a desk at work. He also prescribed Diclofenac which I said I would only use if I was desperate, ie we are off to Devon for a long weekend next weekend. Between times I'll try and paracetamol and Ibuprofen together.Sorry to hear you are having L3/4 problems Ally. I so want to avoid surgery if I can. I've been so lucky to have got the MRI and injections done so quickly. Helps working for a spinal surgeon!

allypally999 Thu 16-Mar-17 13:39:04

Wow you actually know a spinal surgeon! I know people would gnaw off their arm for that advantage lol. Hope you can enjoy your break

bananaskin123 Thu 16-Mar-17 14:52:51

Thanks Ally. Yes, I know its a great bonus and there aren't many in the NHS believe me! Trouble is I don't want to ask him too many questions as I'm grateful for the help I have got this week.

I wonder as I'm home next week might book an appointment with a physio to get some advice re future care. This is all so new to me and came on so suddenly.

lazydog Thu 16-Mar-17 21:55:37

Probably not an issue, but do watch out for any possibility that the fact that you work for a spinal surgeon might mean that you get over aggressively treated. Am I right in thinking that an annular tear is going to be the same thing as a herniated disk? I definitely envy you having had the injections that provided such rapid relief, but I had really bad sciatica that a scan showed was being caused by one herniated and one bulging disc, but exactly as my GP had predicted, my pain resolved itself within 6 horrible weeks (with physio, drastically reducing time spent sitting down (difficult in an IT job) and paying much better attention to my posture.)

bananaskin123 Thu 16-Mar-17 22:28:13

Oh Lazy I really feel for you. I believed I had quite a high pain threshold but when sciatica reared its ugly head I'd never felt pain like it. I honestly don't think I could have survived six weeks. Managing just day to day must be a nightmare. Strangely the only time when I could relax a bit was when I was sitting down or driving. I just dreaded standing up as I really felt quite sick with the pain. Don't know for certain but I think there is adifference between an annular tear and herniated disc. As far as I am aware I have a lot of degeneration in my spine (quite old!) and think fluid was leaking from the disc onto the nerve which gave the awful pain. I'll have to wait until I go back and hopefully he will show me on the MRI. I'm certainly not entirely painfree, still feel the leg leg is a bit wobbly going up and down stairs. I found from the posture point of view when you are in excruciating pain you're stooping to protect yourself from the pain.

I hope not for your sake, but is there any likelihood because of the herniation and the disc bulge you might need surgery at a later stage? Its all about protecting our backs now isn't it. I ventured to the supermarket today for the first time, took loads of bags and put about two things in each as I'm so concerned I might overload my back again! Think its going to take sometime to get my confidence back.

lazydog Fri 17-Mar-17 00:23:36

Just consulted Dr Google and it sounds like to have an herniated disc, you have to have an annular tear, but not all annular tears will result in a herniated disc. You probably had both from the sound of the severity of your symptoms.

How weird. Sitting was a nightmare with mine. Dreaded long car journeys the most, LOL! Got some degree of relief from McKenzie exercises, which are basically the polar opposite of slouching. working up to being able to straighten your arms, extending the back even more. It was often very difficult to even get into that starting position, and bloody murder to get up off the floor again afterwards, but definitely worth it in the long run as it takes pressure off the sciatic nerve.

I hope not to need spinal surgery, but wouldn't rule it out if I had a relapse that hung around for more than a few months. I am still prone to "putting my back out" easily, but since that one severe episode, and utilising the exercise techniques (and muscle relaxant meds) ASAP, I seem to have avoided having anything more than a 3-7 day long stint of sciatica since.

lazydog Fri 17-Mar-17 00:27:47

an herniated - wtf? blush
*a herniated

allypally999 Fri 17-Mar-17 08:58:37

You are quite right to have brought that up Lazy as most back issues do resolve themselves in 6 weeks or so. Mine lasted almost a year before surgery but prior to that I had several incidents which did resolve.

My advice (to avoid surgery) would be to keep active and keep your core strong. My back only finally "went" when I stopped going to the gym and now they won't have me. Sounds like you are doing the right things so good luck to you both. My surgery was a success but the whole NHS experience scarred me for life (and not just literally) and I would fight tooth and nail to avoid another surgery unless I was totally housebound (like I was) with the pain and unable to walk/stand for more than a few seconds and I'm not that bad (again!) yet so fingers crossed.

I did laugh at your shopping experience Banana - I remember going out and only able to bring back a lettuce but now I can struggle round Lidls if I am quick but I do take the trolley over to the car rather than lift the bags nowadays (also old as well as dodgy back).

AnnaKim Wed 30-May-18 13:57:56

Maybe this resource will be useful to you, there are many articles here. For example:
Or to find a doctor for appointment
I hope this will be useful for you wink

SluttyButty Wed 30-May-18 14:18:09

@AnnaKim I'm fairly sure the op, having posted this over a year ago, has probably sorted themselves out now confused

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