Lower Back Pain – MRI booked – any advice or help welcome – L5 S1 problems

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  • Lower Back Pain – MRI booked – any advice or help welcome – L5 S1 problems
  • Premier Icon martymac

    havent had that exact same problem, but i have suffered lower back pain in varying amounts since i was a kid.
    sometimes its ok, other times i couldnt walk/stand up.
    about 6 weeks ago, we got a new matress, one of these memory foam ones, it was fairly expensive, but literally overnight my back felt better, in fact i havent had even a twinge since.
    on the basis that every little helps, might be worth investigating.
    hope your feeling better soon, a bad back is total hell like.

    I had impinged nerve in lumbosacral joint after having a disk injury picking up a heavy object.

    Not as bad as your problem but was off work in agony and could only lie on the floor for about a week before being able to seek help. Happened twice last year.

    Have constant sciatica since but ‘manage’ my problems with daily stretching (every 2 hours on office floor at work).

    Initial injury had me off bike for weeks (particularly MTB).

    Just a case now off continuing to stretch and strengthen and watch what I do when lifting. Sometime forget to stretch when its feeling good and it quickly reminds me that all is not right down there.

    Good luck.


    I had exact same symptoms as you, having had it for 8 years I know what you are going through.
    I had MRI about 4 years ago, waited 6 months to be told I could try a steroid injection, waited another 6 months for that to happen and it lasted all of 3 days. Waited another 6 months for a follow up to be told “3 days is good”….. not sure I would say that! Waited another 6 months for a facet joint injection and then a further 6 months for a follow up. Again, the pain relief lasted all of a day. They decided to try another injection 6 months later…a trainee nurse who heavy handedly paralysed me for a split second by pushing the needle too much. Scared the crap out of me and from then on I decided not to bother with injections.

    In my opinion they are useless, they only mask the pain and don’t fix the problem. Because of our speedy NHS, my discs have naturally dried out and shrunk and the pain has subsided, but it took 7 or 8 years to get to that point. I wouldn’t bother with all the drugs they offer, most of them are anti depressants in small doses and made me feel like crap.

    My only suggestion is to build your core muscles up. Lose weight if you need to, and get to a gym or find someone who can show you core exercises. These are the only ways I found to get pain relief. Find a good trainer who understands the problem, as some think sit ups are good, and these only make it worse. Also, don’t twist! This was the worse possible thing for flare ups. In my previous job, I was strimming grass and vegetation and the twisting movement would put my in agony for a week. Don’t be tempted to bend and click your back like I did, it feels good at the time but in all honesty, its only popping that disc out more, and pinching the nerve more. My symptoms were very similar to yours, my balance was affected by the foot nerve being pinched but it did improve naturally.

    I know it seems like it now, but it will get easier to cope with. If you like swimming, front crawl is excellent as the gentle twisting and support from the water is great for core muscles around the lower back!

    By all means give the epidurals a go, you will know after first one if its worth it or not!

    All the best

    Premier Icon Sandwich

    Had a foraminal (Spelling?) nerve block carried out in 2008 on my L4/L5. Prior to that I was off work for two periods of 6 weeks when my back went into spasm and sundry other smaller absences during the previous 10 years or so. This was keeping me awake at night pain with my right calf cramped for days at a time. Osteopath treatment/acupuncture for this would last just until the next visit.
    I have, so far, not had a recurrence of the problems. I am keeping myself fit, some more weight off would be good, but twisting moves in climbing can be problematical and wide bridging is next to impossible. Touch wood it will remain healthy until I’m cremated!

    Premier Icon Gnnr

    Anyone had first hand experience of disk problem.
    I’m writing this in a fairly large amount of pain.

    I’ve had a bad back for a couple of years, the osteopath has always been a great help but this time it feels different. I have a numb side to my right foot and bad sciatica. All indicating a pinched nerve around the L5 S1 region. It’s sore and walking is difficult.

    My physio has given me back stretching exercises (based on the McKenzie technique from what I can see). These seem to be making it worse even though I’m listening to him and not “pushing through pain”, there is a chance I am overdoing it though.

    I went back to my GP yesterday and now have an MRI booked. To say I’m feeling a bit glum about all this is an understatement…

    Has anyone here been through this? If so how did you deal with it and to what outcome. Prior to this incident I was feeling fitter than I had in years, just bl**dy typical.

    Cheers Gnnr


    90% resolve in 8-12 weeks with painkillers and physio.

    Beyond that less chance of simple resolution – options beyond that if it’s a disc are injection or surgery. Surgery has good Outcomes in most but not guaranteed obviously.

    Hope that helps.


    (pseudo ortho pod)


    I had a prolapsed disc years ago. Got so bad I couldn’t stand still for more than two minutes without intense sciatic pain. Had the scan, was offered an operation, but on hearing the potential damage that could be caused if the op went wrong, decided to grit my teeth and bear it. The problem started to recede after a year or so. Twelve years later, I still have the odd twinge of sciatica and very occasionally get dead toes when I loiter too long, but other than that I’m fine.


    The same symptoms as you although sciatica was down my left leg, initially I was told it was a tear in the cartilage around the hip joint, then a hip bursa, after about 18 months of this and failing physio (including acupuncture) I had a MRI where they injected dye into the hip joint. That proved inconclusive and the symptoms persisted, then went for another MRI which showed the disc problem up. Had 2 steroid injections, didn’t have any benefits for me at all. In total I spent 3 years between the onset of symptoms and finally having an op to cut out the offending parts of the disc, the final 4 months before the op I was stuck lying on the floor stuffing myself stupid with increasingly stronger drugs which really did not have that much of an effect. Post-op was brilliant, up and around the following day and gentle riding after a couple of weeks. Still got a numb left calf from the sciatica, although I was told that will improve with time. Hope yours is resolved swiftly, persist with the medics and push them into investigating all avenues to ensure diagnosis/most appropriate treatment for you, good luck.

    Not saying I had the same problem as you, but when I had a lot of back problems I tried pretty much everything (including physio, sports injury, normal chiropractic), and the only thing that worked for me was McTimoney chiropractic.
    They use a different approach to treatment, none of the heavy handed stuff that the normal chiropractic used (which actually made things worse).
    They have a college in Abingdon where they give treatment and practitioners all over the country.


    suffered lower back pain since i was about 16 now 53 osteopath was some help when it was really bad i have an inversion table which i find helps i had an mri a couple of years ago which showed a bulging disc ,
    just had a bad couple of weeks which is easing now i have just started yoga having watched the video which was posted here a week or so ago go

    I suffer this exact issue, caused 14 years ago picking something up off the floor.

    afield23 had mentioned a lot of the more invasive solutions but for me a chiropractor was my saviour during the acute period which lasted 18 months, just the slightest sudden/unexpected movement would set me back.

    In the long term I’ve come to accept that I’ve got an unstable lower back but ultimately rest and gentle mobilisation in the short term then core exercises and learning and understanding how to engage my multifidus muscles are what have helped me.

    I’m now at a point where were I to shoulder my bike up Penyghent in the 3 Peaks or try to do massive deadlifts then , yes, I would have a problem but day to day, long rides, running etc its all good.

    Good luck, chin up and personally epidurals etc are short term relief and have associated risks, ultimately your body needs to recover and adapt (core exercises).

    Try a bag of frozen peas on the affected area . Stay away from long hot baths .
    If you have a hot shower , bag of frozen peas for a few mins afterwards.
    Theory is ice increases blood flow in localised area , reduces swelling and temperature in the joint . This allows the muscles to relax and stop locking the joint. Keep walking as well , need to maintain movement.

    I was paralysed with a lower back injury and couldnt move my legs .

    Chiro , and admitting stacking 50kg beer barrels is just dumb , mean relatively pain free existance .


    When having my MRI on lower back it genuinely felt like my insides were being cooked!! Ive got degenerated fluid around one of the discs I think?? Can’t remember really as I saw that many people! Bit of a shambles to be fair! Eventually had a spinal injection which I have to say wasn’t particularly pleasant at the time but made me feel dreadful for 48 hrs afterwards!! That was 18 months ago and it did work but I now have the old pains back, left groin/ lower back etc!

    Gary Banham

    I’ve had l4/l5 disks compressed for 15 years, I’m only 31 now. I’ve spent thousands on physio, osteopath and various “latest greatest things”. Everybody is different but I do Thai boxing and MTb so not doing myself much good but Pilates and swimming keeps the pain minimal with less frequent flair ups.


    I can certainly sympathise. I am looking to have a scan next month. Had to stop circuit training hamstring calf and pain to my foot. Walking and standing is painful. Had pyhsio and continuing with core stability work.can’t lose weight nothing to lose. good luck with your scan.


    Similar story here, goes 3-4 times a year for the last 16 years. Takes about 6 weeks to recover.
    No help from doctor apart from pain killers which wouldn’t kill the pain so I went private. I had MRI scan which showed 3 crushed discs and then back to nhs waiting list. I was offered injections but turned them down as I don’t want a temporary fix.
    I go to a private physo when required which helps a little.
    I tried smoking skunk which didn’t relive pain but took my mind off it.
    Then 2 years ago an old mate stopped for a chat on a mountain bike and offered me a go.
    For some reason I agreed, struggled to climb on and went for a small ride, my back clicked and almost recovered straight away. The riding position really seems to sort me out. The doc and physio don’t recomend mtbing but it’s all that works for me.
    I now ride when ever I can.
    Good luck with yours op


    Have had a long term lower back problem for a few years now, it’s been much worse since 2009 and I’ve been off the bike now for over a year to see if I could stabilise it. MRI scan showed no real disc damage which is great, suspected problem is with SI joint. I had a course of private physio which was quite useful for recovery but didn’t resolve the issue. I saw a chiropractor as well with pretty much the same result. The two NHS physio referrals I had were sadly a waste of time for me and them – a set of pilates moves each time which put me in pain and didn’t fix the issue.

    6 weeks back I started a low impact yoga class (and had a single private lesson for some specific exercises). It’s been a revelation for me and I’m out riding for the first time since last April on monday :mrgreen: Have also halved the codeine dose which was allowing me to sleep. Good luck with fixing yourself, trust your body to tell you what it needs and don’t be afraid to try new things.


    I got a full thickness tear of the L5S1 disc whilst scrummaging. It put paid to my rugby days and took a couple of years of trying various treatments and therapies until I found a way of managing it. Good luck in finding something that works for you. Whatever you do, keep moving!


    From my experience you probably busted one of your discs
    and its touching the sciatic nerve.
    I busted my L2 L3 & L5

    I ended going private the NHS just wanted to keep giving me traction then wanted to cut me open
    I went private and the chap mainly using exercises and grew my trunk and concentrated on core
    exercises in which was pain full but got rid of the problem.


    Prolapsed L4/5 probably happened a few years ago, maybe from a big mtb stack and car crash in a few months. Lots of time in cars and desk job meant it got worse and worse until I had to go to a&e from work to get me enough drugs to be able to drive home!
    Nothing seemed to help, but it calmed down a lot. Tried chiropractic which eased the pain immediately but i dont think helped lng term. Eventually we had a baby and I couldn’t even hold him for more than a minute without it feeling like my leg would fall off from the pain.
    Gp plus MRI scan (via about 4 months worth of ibuprofen) plus surgery for me – surgery went wrong first time (it prolapsed again whilst waiting to be discharged) so another week in hospital and they went back in the same hole. Highly recommended. Some of the feeling in my right shin/foot aint the same, but it’s been a small price to pay. Got a spangly orthotic chair at work too, and lots of help. Now drive a vw which was highly recommended to me.
    In short – have it out!


    I can sympathise, slipped a dsc a few years ago and suffered considerable pain. I couldn’t sit or stand. Had a MRI, then tred an injection, which didn’t work. I had an op, which removed 25% of the disc pushing against the spinal nerve. The surgeon described the nerve bouncing back. So I do lots of Pilates keep the core strength up and I’m careful about seatingosition. I ride lots fitter than I’ve been for a long time and bought myself a lovely full sus. The only downside is I’m fine on a road bike but I suffer with a hard tail on some surfaces. I couldn’t have waited for a year in the pain that I was in.

    Premier Icon Gnnr

    Many thanks for all the replies, some really interesting stuff in there.
    I’m going to keep up with the back extension exercises – fingers crossed they start to pay off. Sounds like patience is key!!

    I’m based in Edinburgh so if anyone has strong recommendations of practitioners to see send me an email please:
    craikhome AT googlemail DOT com


    Just to add to the experiences here…

    I had an acutely herniated L5-S1 a few years ago. Diagnosed (eventually) by x-ray.

    It crippled me; I could barely walk and certainly couldn’t ride a bike.

    I rested for a month, got no better, saw a chiro locally, got spine cracked and manipulated and told I’d be fine, got no better, insisted on an x-ray with a different chiro, got diagnosed, saw a chiropractor on Harley St (2/3 times per week, £55 per 15 mins) and after about 3 months I was improving, after 6 months I was back to normal. BUT I do not think the chiropractor helped at all, and would strongly recommend against it.

    This is based on my subsequent reading about the evidence for Chiropractic and its efficacy – see the book ‘Trick or Treatment’ by Ernst & Singh and the plain-language systematic reviews by the Cochrane Collaboration. I used to think a chiro was a ‘back doctor’ – they’re nothing of the sort.

    Instead, it’s more likely that I got better through (1) time, (2) the exercises I did to boost my core strength and (3) the placebo of paying loads of money to see a nice, confidence-boosting guy regularly.

    I have now completely recovered (touch wood!) and those 12-ish months of hell are a distant memory.

    I have no idea what will work for you, but take the advice of doctors, ask for the evidence that a treatment is likely to work and stay positive!

    Best of luck mate!


    Had and still have the same problem.

    To quote my consultant – physio is useless for this problem -it either resolves or doesn’t.

    The NHS treats it with conservative therapies – painkillers/physio etc – mostly because the treatments are really where they need to be.

    It is scary surgery but it is done regular by some amazing surgeons (neurosurgeons are better)

    Look at spinesurgeons.ac.uk – this is the page the surgeons put out there.

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