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New Member

Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 1/4/2010 6:59 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks in advance for reading.

I have been dealing with the life altering affects of lumbar back pain for the past 5 years. I am in desperate need of advice and am reaching out to the online community.

In 2005 I started feeling pain in my hamstrings and lower back when sitting. I was initially misdiagnosed as having pelvic malalignment by a sports injury specialist and was told to do a set of excercises that would fix the imbalance and stop the pain. This failed to achieve any results.I was than was mistakenly diagnosed as having rheumatoid arthritis???. Only after being misdiagnosed twice would the sports medicine specialist finally give me an MRI (10 months later) which showed these results......


Of the five lumbar vertabrae there is desiccation of the L5 / L5 disc as well as the L5 / S1 disc. There is narrowing of the L5 / S1 disc and note is made of an annular tear involving the posterior aspect of the L5 / S1 disc. The conus ends at the level of the L1 / L2 and the visualized portion of the lower thoracic cord is normal in signal and morphology.

Note is made of disc dessication and disc space narrowing at the T 11/ T12 level with an associtaed disc buldge . Depsite the disc buldge the spinal cord is not significantly narrowed. No abnormailty is present from T12 throught to the L3/ L4 level.

At the L4 / L5 , there is disc buldge whitout narrowing of the spanl canal. At the L5/ S1 level there is a small paracental disc protrusion with the the disc protrusion minimally dipslacing the traversing right S1 nerve root in the right lateral recess. the spinal canal is not significantly narrowed at this level. The exiting nerve roots are not compromised.

So after the specialist saw that there was damage in my back (likely caused by snowboarding) he recommended I do physiotherapy to strengthen my back. It has now been 11 months since I started physio which included spinal decompression. All of this treatment has done liitle to help my back pain and I am now headed back to the specialist. I am only 25 and I feel as if my life and future prospects have been drastically altered for the worse. I am no longer athletically fit, I have difficulty siting for periods of time, and my quality of life in general is poor. I am always in some state of pain and often unable to do much but lie down.

After the initial mishandling and misdiagnoses I have been left with very little trust in the medical system (I live in Vancouver, Canada) And at this point I have been left with the disheartening advice that I should live with the pain by using medications and hope that in the future that some surgical procedure is invented that can repair my back. The doctors rational for this was that If I had surgey using current methods it coud result in my injury becoming worse.

Does anyone agree or disagree with this asessment or now of any treatments/procedures that I should be considering? ( should I be looking into private health care options or treatment in other countries?)

If anyone has dealt with a similar injury and has any advice that would be greatly apreciated


Screaming Eagle
Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 5005
   Posted 1/4/2010 8:11 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello #84, and welcome to the Healing Well Forum's! Humm! have quite the back problem! My sister has an Annular tear as well and it involves several of the disk. She is in Physical Therapy (PT), and I believe the Dr. told her it may take up to a year to heal. He also said there is a good chance that it will not heal on its own, and may require surgery. In fact she is scheduled to see a surgeon sometime this next week. So I should know more about her condition then. While I'm no Dr, I doubt that there is not a chance for a successful outcome for surgery. Is the Specialist, a Sports Dr? Also have you tried an Epidural injection? Are you on pain meds now? Also sitting actually puts more of a strain than standing or laying down. So if you are sitting for long periods of time, I can see why your in pain all the time. I'm really a little over my head with all the Dr. talk on your report, so I'm going to let some of the other veteran members, take a stab at suggestions for you. I hate to say, this but from my own experience and many others here as well, it sounds like you are right, in that your life may very well have taken a permanent change. Lets hope that you can find a solution, and get back on your feet. Hang around, and check back often, and don't be afraid to as questions and share more about yourself. Take care my friend!


Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2009
Total Posts : 82
   Posted 1/4/2010 8:34 PM (GMT -6)   
I'v had the lumbar fusion of the L5/S1 and that was in 04' today I'm in serious pain and on medication. Can't say that the surgery was a success for me. There are times when I wish I had never had the surgery and that I had done something different. I've tried different things to help me but not much has helped. Now I'm doing O.T. which is slowly helping with some excersises that I was given from PT. They tell me that I need to strengthen my back and that will help. I also carry a tens unit with me. That's just a few things that I've done. Hope that I haven't bumbed you out to much......

Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 999
   Posted 1/4/2010 10:59 PM (GMT -6)   
Canuck, first off I also want to welcome you to the forum. It plain stinks that there has to be a site like this but since life is not always fair, it is great that we have a place like this. We are not doctors and do not give medical advise but we do share what has worked or did not work for us since every injury is different as well as our respons eto medical treatment. I lived with back pain after being injured as a law enforcement officer. I saw a multitude of doctors and finally took the advise of one I felt cared. He told me to wait until I could take the pain no more as surgery was only a 50/50 possibility for help. After 10 years I finally had fusion surgery and then 2 more surgeries because the fusion did not take care of the nerve damage. Surgery does work for some as doe physical therapy. Many of us on this site are those that did not find relief o0r are still looking. It can be down right discouraging when you start connecting with so many others that are in the same situation. I suggest that you get at least another medical oppinion and if you are not satisfied, look for another. Most of us don't like the medications that we are on and would rather not take them but when it comes to quality of like we have to weigh the options. I would encourage you not to give up or lose hope. Even after many years, I know that giving up is not an option. I remember well when life was better physically but life is still good. We all learn to make adjustments we never thought we would have to make. When it seems that life has given you lemons, don't make lemon aid, keep looking for a box of oranges.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16804
   Posted 1/4/2010 11:23 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Canuck 84,
Welcome yo Healing Well. I am so glad that you found us but I do hate to see someone young come long with the problems you are living with.  I am so glad that you found us, as one thing we all understand very well and thats pain. So, you are not alone. We totally understand how pain affects your life in general.
None of us here at the forum are doctors. We only speak from our own personal experiences. One thing I suggest you do is get online and educated yourself about your condition. The more knowledge you can gain the better. Find good reputable web sites and look up things like annular disc tear, bulging/herniated disc,  disc dessication and narrowing of the lumbar spine. Learning about your condition will help you understand why your body is doing what it is doing. Look at various options for treatment. Having knowledge will help you make better choices concerning your care.
You are so right, drs do not like to operate on young people. As far as the annular disc tear goes, it can go either way, some drs say leave it alone and let it attempt to heal on its own and at last resort sometimes they will do surgery. When a person has back surgery many times the disc above or below the surgery area can bulge or herniate out over time, mostly due to stress on the joint. Then a person could very well be looking at a second surgery. Many times when a person has narrowing in the spine they have pinched or compressed nerves. Sometimes this does not show up on an MRI Scan. So in essence what your drs told you about doing surgery now is very true.
Do you have any pain down the back either of your legs? Do you have any numbness, tingling or burning in either of your feet or with any of your toes? If you have a pinched nerve they can try to decompress the nerve by doing a discectomy, but that most likely will not relieve your back pain at all. Nerves are very complex and they can either heal on their own or not.
It sounds like you have seen pretty much the usual dr gambit. Are you or have you seen a pain mgt dr? If not asked you should ask your PCP to refer you to one. They are better trained to handle pain patients and usually have more info on different kinds of medications to try to help relieve the pain.  No one likes to take medication period. But, for most of us that is the only way we can have some quality life.You are in a really tough spot because age is a big factor and thats exactly what the drs are looking at, your age, I really wish I had more info to give you . There are others that will read your post and hopefully they can come up with some good ideas for you.
Take care and let us know how you are doing.

crohns disease dx 2002 & small bowel resection, still looking for remission whatever that is, chronic pain 22 yrs, added ulcerative colitis 6-05 to the mix, high blood pressure 28 yrs, aortic heart valve insuffiency, depression, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis lumbar spine, scoliosis lumbar spine, peripheral neuropathy hands & feet, COPD & on oxygen therapy, lupus & psoriasis and psoratic arthritis. Several other health issues just not enough room to list it all. Too many surgeries to list and too many medications to list. Currently on 17 different daily medications. Intrathecal pain pump implanted June 05.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 9289
   Posted 1/5/2010 1:24 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Canuck!!

I'm glad you joined us...I'm your 'neighbor' just south of you in Washington State. I'm on the south end of the Olympic Peninsula. Been some wild weather lately, eh? ;-) BTW, hubby and I are Canuck fans big time!

OK, back to the why you came. It's hard to add much to the wonderful advice and sharing others have given you but I will share one more thing. I'm not sure where you are getting your treatment but I would suggest you get to a teaching university/hospital. They are the ones on the cutting edge of technology and take on cases that other doctors are not being successful at treating. At the top of the opening page of posts there is a thread called Chronic Pain 101. In there is all kinds of resources including a listing of many of the teaching/university hospitals around the world. I looked and there is one in Vancouver!

Vancouver General Hospital and Health Science Centre which is part of Vancouver Coastal Health is the one nearest you. Often people have to travel hundreds of miles to get to one, but you can get to this one easier if you'd like. Here is the link to their site. One of their specialties is people your age. Also, here's a link to the Coastal Health site.

Give some thought to getting hold of them and get in to see someone who is a specialist in your area of need. Hopefully they can give you some hope and care than will give you relief. It does concern me that you have so much pain that you basically can't do anything. Are your doctors currently giving you something to treat the pain? Maybe I missed something but I hope they are doing something for temporary pain relief.

Keep in touch!
The three grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for. — Alexander Chalmers

(\o/)Co-Moderator Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Forums
Fibromyalgia, PTSD, UC, Diabetic on insulin, collapsed disk, arthritis scattered around and a few other delights.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 974
   Posted 1/5/2010 7:01 AM (GMT -6)   

First let me say welcome to our forum.  We are all in the same boat here so no question is a stupid question and we always welcome any replies you may have.

My lumbar problems also started 7 yrs ago with just an annular tear at L-4/5 which is the outside lining of the disc.  This can definately be painful and as far as I know they will not heal themselves.  Looks like you also have bulging disc that can cause alot of problems.

I too would advise you to see a pain management doctor if possible.  These doctors are trained to control pain be it with medication or injections, do make sure the pm doctor does both.  I have had success with steroid injections into my bulging disc but the relief only lasted for 2 months but everyone is different.  If there is any nerve issues you may find some relief from a med specifically for nerve pain such as Neurontin, which has a generic Gabapentin, or Lyrica. 

When I first started out using pain medications I was using Ultram, generic is Tramadol.  This is non-narcotic and can help with mild to medium pain.  This could be an option for you if you are nervous about using narcotic pain meds.  Also alot of people are helped with Cymbalta, a anti-depressant that is also used for pain.

I know you were seeing a sports injury specialist with little success.  Sorry to hear this but a good physical therapist can help with lower back pain.  They will help to strengthen the surrounding muscles to alleviate pain and teach techniques in proper posture.  Maybe a different therapist could do you some good.

Hope this helps give you some ideas to discuss with your doctor.  I do use narcotic pain meds and Neurontin along with a anti-spasmatic drug, Zanaflex, for muscle spasms but plain old Tylenol in small quantities still helps alot too.  Good Luck and keep us updated on your progress!

DDD, osteoarthritis, fusion surgeries C-5/7 & L-4/5 both in 2006, torn meniscus left knee 2000 & 2002, buldging disc L-2/3

White Beard
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3703
   Posted 1/6/2010 1:20 AM (GMT -6)   
canuck welcome to Healing Well Chronic Pain Forum, I really don't know how much more I can add, you already have receive so much excellent information! I agree with others that you need to go to a medical teaching facility and be checked out! Your pain is a great concern, as they are right in wanting you to strengthen your muscles, ( you back and especially your abdominal muscles) but that is hard to do if you are in lots of pain! So that is a very important issue to get resolved, you really need to see a pain management Doctor! With that said, I know that your young age is working against you in allot of respects, naturally they don't want to do surgery if they can at all avoid it, but also allot of Doctors seem to think youger people can tolerate much more pain, or atb least they seem to indicate that. Which by the way is bunk! But the main thing is allot of Doctors are very conservative when treating pain in younger people. So you definitely need to let them know about all the pain you are in!

I might add this into the mix, it is easy when your in pain and don't feel like doing anything to lay around, and in the process of doing that, it is easy to gain a little or allot of weight! I will suggest to you that during this time that you watch your weight and how much to take in, calorie wise. The reason being is, moderate to severe weight gain can be disastrous to the disks in your lower back! Especially if a majority of the weight is added in the abdominal area! At your young age this really can put you at risk later on! Also note that cartilage does not have lots of blood vessels going through it, in fact most has none at all, so most cartilage can not receive nutrients and thus repair themselves. You have a tear in your cartilage it is most likey going to stay there! That is OK as long as the disk does not receive any further damage! But it does weaken it allot. There is no easy answers for you or fixes! You most likely will have to make so life changes, but that is all part of living, we all sometimes get dealt hands in life that we don't like, it is what we do with them, is what makes the difference!

I do wish You well! Good Luck to You!

White Beard

New Member

Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 2/14/2010 8:30 PM (GMT -6)   
To all of you whom have replied to my post and shared your experiences and advice I am extremely grateful :-)

Sorry it has taken me a few weeks to respond...... Since I originally posted my story I have been to see the sports med specialist again (a different one from the first) and have more or less gotten the same response. Which is that surgical intervention is not an option for me at this point.

I have been referred to a new physiotherapist and have re-focused on strengthening my back and core. I am exercising multiple times daily and have lost 15 pounds already. I am going to continue to train my back and body in general until I am in peak physical condition. If I am still not able to function properly after that then I guess I will have to look at other options...?

I really like my new physio and I am feeling positive and hopeful that my condition will improve. Unfortunately, I am currently still in a lot of pain and have been struggling to find the right pain meds. My doctors latest advice has been to take tylenol extra strength multiple times a day as well as taking Tramadol. My doc is hesitant to prescribe any of the stronger opiates out of fear of there addictive nature.

Once again thank you all! Reading your replies has been very helpful. It is reassuring to know that there are other people in the same(or more severe) situations as myself that are managing to continue living their lives to the best of their abilities.

I look forward to reading and posting in this forum in the future :-)



Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 974
   Posted 2/15/2010 6:36 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi, Chris. I hope the exercises help with your back problems. Strengthening the surrounding muscles can help alot with correct posture to alleviate pain in the lumbar spine. Also, the weight loss is great.

Is the tramadol helping? I didn't see anything prescribed for nerve pain. This could help your situation if it is nerve related.

If your condition doesn't improve I would still recommend you see a pain management doctor. I am in the process of having injections into the nerve at L-4/5 and have very good results from the nerve block. At my next visit we will be discussing having radio frequency abalation done. You may want to check this out on the world wide web. If you are having issues with a pinched nerve this may be an option for you.

Good Luck and keep us updated!!!
DDD, osteoarthritis, facet syndrome, fusion surgeries C-5/7 & L-4/5 both in 2006, torn meniscus surgeries left knee 2000 & 2002, buldging disc L-2/3

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