Prolapsed disc

Hi everyone,

I originally posted on here after having lower back pain for about 1 month and was seeing a physio and osteopath who both said i had an anterior tilt of the left side of my pelvis. The osteopath said had a slack SI ligament due to my pelvis having been twisted for a long time. I went to see a private orthopaedic physician who sent me for an mri scan after giving me a caudal epidural that did not make any difference (this was a diagnostic tool).
The MRI scan showed that I have a prolapsed lumbar disc(L3 region). The doctor said he is going to continue with the epidurals (I have had 2 and he said he will continue up to 4) and if they dont work then will send me for a surgical opinion for a possible discectomy. Apparently the discectomy is not too successful in removing pain unless you have sciatica. Also, I obviously dont want to undergo any surgery unless I have to, but this pain is controlling my life. I want to be able to run (I mis it so much)and cycle and play sports and go to the gym and feel free and healthy again. I also want to go travelling (I am 23 and have 8 months until I start work). I have just qualified as a dentist as have a job that starts in August... this is also a concern for me... working with this pain will be extremely uncomfortable and the position I will be working in all day will not be very good for my back with this problem. I also want to be able to learn to drive before I start work but sitting in the car for a prolonged period of time is painful.

I was wondering if any of you have had this problem before and if you can give me any advice. How long does it takes to recover? I am getting more and more frustrated as my fitness diminishes and I feel unhealthier and unhealthier. Is there anything I can do to speedthe process along? I have had this low back pain for 4 months now.

I appreciate that other people are far far worse than me, and really feel for them.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


  • Hi Swifty,
    Have you tried pilates yet? I know lots of people who have found it incredibly useful as a non-surgical approach to managing the problem and it at least gives you something to focus on whilst you're not able to run....

    Hope you're on the mend soon!
  • Thank you for your response Elena_Bean. Very much appreciated. I have tried pilates yes, I know I have a weak core and wanted to work on it. But I found pilates seemed to irritate the disc and increase the pain further. I have also read that it can make it worse and I should wait until I have recovered from the prolapsed disc to start. Thank you for your help and well wishes though!
  • Hi Swifty - I'm so pleased you have finally got a diagnosis - even it wasn't one you were wanting, at least you now know for sure what you are dealing with. Were you referred to a physio? If so they will certainly be able to help you to manage this problem. Your Dr/Consultant should be able to refer you. Other than that (and you know how I bang on about core strength!!) I agree with EB... I know that my Pilates studio do specific back care and back aware courses which are invaluable in taking the strain off.
  • OK... Sorry - cross post! image I really hope you get it sorted though!
  • Hello Tigerlily!
    Lovely to hear from you again... thank you for your well wishes. No i havnt been referred to a physio... what kind of work would they do to help me manage it? As I'm not working, its getting so expensive and im getting poorer and poorer!
  • Swifty - has all your treatment been private? Including MRI etc?
  • Yes image i have used the rest of my student loan, my grandma has so sweetly given me some money (her pension, bless her) and my mum has helped me too. Not good.
  • MRI i went to a special diagnostic clinic, which was set up to make MRIs cheaper... it was £275, which was a lot cheaper than £700 they are charging privately normally
  • Oh Swifty! I may be able to help... (not financially image)- I'll PM you.
  • Oooh ok thanks Tigerlily! image
  • Swifty- the mainstay of treatment for degenerative back pain should be physio in the first instance - GET YOURSELF SEEN ASAP- some areas have open access back pain clinics. Surgery is primarily of use for treating intractable leg pain, that has not settled with conservative measures. Surgery does NOT help pain in the back itself, so if your pain is largely in the lower back, surgery is not likely to be of use to you. Many people are told to rest, and avoid excercise - this is not necessarily the best advice- physio will tell you what you can and can't do.

    Good luck 

  • Thank you so much fo your reply tricialitt, I wasnt overly aware that physio was the first port of call for a prolapsed disc. After your recommendation and others, I will be going to see a physio asap.

    Thank you.
  • Hi

     I was diagnosed with a prolapsed disc in March 2010 - the L4 disc. After nearly 18months of not getting anywhere with physios, therapists etc (and the Consultant who performed the MRI was not particularly helpful) I went to see a Chiropractor with an excellent reputation. I have been seeing him for almost 5 months now and the improvement has been (touch wood) miles above and beyond anything else I had experienced previously. To start with, I was seeing him once a week, or every 2 weeks, which is expensive (£30-£40 per session). However, after 8 weeks or so, the i,provement was such that I started seeing him once a month, where he performs manoeuvres, sets exercises etc. I can;t say I am the finished article, but am now running on a treadmill for around 25 minutes comfortably, and hope to increase this. It is imprtant not to go too fast though - I was not allowed to run at all until the end of November.

    By the way, epidural seems extreme, although to be fair I don;t know your pain. Mine was bad, at times unbearable, especially turning in bed, sitting up etc. But now I am pain free (touch wood again). I am 26 by the way, also young for a degenerative disc condition.

     I hope this helps. In short, I would see a Chiro with a good track record, and don;t run before you can walk!

    Good luck

  • Swifty

    Lots of myths and what if's and maybe's.

    If one epidural doesn't help, I wouldn't hold out my hope that number 2,3 or 4 will. What it's telling you is that you've got a functional issue rather than a structural one. The epidural will affect the structure (inflam around the disc), it won't alter what you do with it (the function). Having had a squirt it's pretty clear that you don't have inflammatory back pain, but most likely mechanical - and that's the issue.

    The other chaps you've seen, with the way out there diagnosis haven't really done anything, so don't class that as failed at conservative treatment - you just need some decent treatment to the right bits, not just to the bits....

    Get this sorted and you'll not only be back on your feet, but also have a good and long dental career where you can crouch over patients all day......

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