Bulging Disc in back S1-L5 Sciatica

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  • Bulging Disc in back S1-L5 Sciatica
  • dexa

    Have a look at a previous post: Lower back issues… about one month ago, some interesting reading. I perservering with the help of McGill Backmechanics. Go careful with Pilaties and Yoga, many exercises can agrivate your condition.


    About 25 years ago, I managed to herniate my L3 disc and get lots of crippling back pain. I had a physical job at the time and managed to keep moving, which helped.

    Move forward 2 years and I moved to a desk based job and the sciatica, pain and lack of mobility became very bad.

    The thing suggested by a specialist, was Pilates, along with barefoot shoes. Both seems quite ridiculous at the time, but 25 years later I can touch my toes easily, run without pain and do other activities easily.

    I’d always avoid medical intervention if possible and dedicate 1-2 years to improving the next 40.


    I bought the McGill book just before Xmas and followed it. I found hanging from a pull up bar helps me a lot. Accupunture and massage really release some of the trigger points. I have never been flexible and its hard to find time to complete the stretches each day what with work and 2 young kids. Follow up arrived in the post to see the neurosurgeon in April so will work hard on the core until then.


    So had a new MRI as I feel I am slowly improving but my right foot is still numb on the outside and underneath. Muscle loss in thigh and calf on the right side.

    Had an EMG and Nerve conduction test today, an interesting test! Basically electrocution! So sounds like my S1 root nerve isn’t good at all. Lost reflex in my right angle and muscles show poor response to the test. So awaiting the report write up and next appointment! Can see another summer going out of the window!

    Premier Icon SaxonRider

    I had a double prolapse at L4/L5 about ten years ago that ended up affected both legs all the way down to my feet, to the point where I couldn’t move my legs on my own, and had no strength in my feet.

    They administered some nerve blocking injections that freed my legs and feet up again, and after 6 weeks or so, meant that I had regained relative strength on both sides.

    Can they not do the same for you?


    Well my results back in June from the EMG and Nerve conduction basically read “S1 root nerve lesion, Soleous H wave absent” wasn’t good reading. So was given nerve flossing to do and some exercises.

    So here we are in Sept. Foot is still numb. I can walk 15k steps a day. However cannot do anything I want to do,kick a ball with the kids or lift anything, although been on the turbo spinning it out for a few sessions.

    Went out with my kids for a short out door ride last week as felt good but and that aggravated it. Tightness returned.

    Seeing the surgeon again next week as I think now 11 months on and no foot reflex plus numbess I am risking if not already got permanent nerve damage.


    I had the same two discs bulging. Flippin painful pain down my right leg.
    I tried everything myself to help, physio, chiro, acupuncture, exercises.

    I got sent to the doctor by my occupational health lady at work. She came to the conclusion I was in too much pain and had severe limited movement to to perform any activities she was prescribing.

    After 10 mins and a reflex test (hits knee with hammer, nothing happened) he sent me as a priority to a surgeon. MRI done within 2 weeks. Confirmed the same image as yours pretty much..

    A week later and I took a real turn for the worse. Laying on my side, constant pain. Could not sit or stand for anymore than 10seconds. Wife emptying wee pots but luckily I was severely constipated due to the drugs. Attended my wifes 12 week scan while laying down in the ultrasound room. I was necking liquid morphine with zero care given.

    A discectomy done about 2 months later and I was walking again but it was still not right.
    Further MRI shown the herniation was still there.

    2nd discectomy done.

    The time from first pain to 2nd discectomy was about 7 months.

    4 years later: Still a numb foot, still a 60/24/7/565 twitching calf muscle with very limited strength, still insane calf and hamstring cramps. If anything lightly brushes past the outside of my foot when I have no socks on, feels like someone is sticking pins in.

    I have spoken to numerous people (pro’s and general public) and they all hint at permanent damage. But I’m happy considering what I was going through.

    So I’m riding and enjoying life but the post op symptoms are still very much are part of it. They do not stop me doing anything.

    I would seriously get to see a surgeon again and ask for another MRI. Not being able to kick a ball or lift stuff is pretty basic things that you should be able to achieve.
    The longer you leave a rubbing nerve, I fear the bigger the longterm effects will be.


    Update, Saw the surgeon again back in September. Had another MRI which showed the disc was no longer pressing on the nerve but Still had a lot of tightness. My foot is still numb but slowly getting there, he said maybe 1 to 2 years the numbness might go away and I had 90% strength back. I don’t drive much now but starting to get less cramp and tightness but it’s still there daily, just got to modify my movements to cope. Calf muscle at the front has shrunk my right less is about 3/4 size of the left.
    Still haven’t brought myself to sell my 2018 Canyon Spectral it’s like new, but giving up on riding that how I want to ride it now.

    Sorry you’re still going through this OP, I was offered surgery after 3 months of living on the floor with sciatica and Gabapentin/Tramadol abuse.

    To be honest I don’t think I was in half as bad a state as many abovevwere, but the physio wasn’t doing anything other than occasionally aggravating it, and I had a 2 year old running about my feet and a lot of projects at work.

    In short I didn’t want any more guesswork so took the surgery as soon as I was offered it. In at 4pm, out 3pm next day. 6 weeks very gentle rehab anx then start back with gentle core work and (I hope) gentle pedalling to/from work.

    Sure there are risks, and I’m not especially happy about being half a disc less now, but it allows me to move forward with a bit more certainty. I’m only young once, I didn’t want to miss out on any more than I had to.

    If I sound defensive of my choice, it’s because there seems to be an undertone of surgery being the ‘low moral fibre’ route to be avoided at all costs. To me it’s just a clean slate upon which to start rebuilding.

    Good luck whatever you choose!

    Premier Icon Sandwich

    @13thfloormonk If your consultant and the other specialists considered that was best for you, you did the right thing. Usually it’s a last resort thing due to expense and risk both at the op and into the future. Some of us respond well to nerve-block injections others it’s partial or full disc removal being the only thing to work.

    OP some indoor climbing will do wonders for core strength with out feeling that you’re doing exercises. Beware bridging moves though I find that they are too painful to make now.


    Sounds like you are heading in the right direction so keep on with the exercises etc. It may well be a long, hard slog but forward is forward.

    Great to hear you managed to avoid the operation, that rarely gives the results the patient was hoping for and can sometimes even heap some extra problems on top for good measure!

    Great to hear you managed to avoid the operation, that rarely gives the results the patient was hoping for and can sometimes even heap some extra problems on top for good measure!

    Eh? Where does this come from? Statistics I saw were I think 10% didn’t experience improvement in pain. 1-2% had complications e.g. infections from surgery.

    Anyone I spoke to who had op spoke of immediate improvements, biggest challenge is not to over-do things straight after due to relief from symptoms.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pushing people to take surgery, I just think there is a lot of scare-mongering about a simple and effective surgery which could save months of possible aggravation of the Sciatic nerve.

    NHS don’t give stats, but say:

    There’s good evidence that decompression surgery can be an effective treatment for people with severe pain caused by compressed nerves.

    Elsewhere you can find stats suggesting 85% success.

    My surgeon advised that within 2 years the success rate of surgery vs. conservative treatment was the same, the gamble you take is what quality of life for those 2 years.

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