A few months ago I was diagnosed as having a herniated disc in my lower back. The pain actually started back in December, but I was stubborn and didn’t go see a doctor about it until February. I guess I finally got to the point where taking two Aleve every day just wasn’t cutting it anymore. So, a MRI revealed that I had a herniated disc, which was pressing on the nerve and causing me to have sciatica in my left leg (even now, my foot is feeling a little numb because of it). I was given an epidural shot of steroids which relieved the pain for a while, several weeks actually, but now the pain is flaring up again.
In case you’re wondering what the difference is between a bulging disc and a herniated disc, a bulging disc simply pops out of place but will go back in place; a herniated disc, on the other hand, is actually torn or damaged in some way so it’s essentially always pushing on the nerve. Anyone who is familiar with, or has experienced this, will tell you that the pain isn’t always actually in the back. Most of the time my back feels fine; it’s my leg that hurts or, pardon me for the TMI, my left ass cheek hurts. Most days I can cope as sometimes just moving around a bit helps loosen everything up (it’s usually the worst in the morning when I first get up). Other days I’m taking Aleve, or Lyrica, or Amrix just to be able to tolerate sitting in my cubicle at work (yes, even sitting in an office chair can hurt like hell sometimes, especially if one gets stuck there for a couple of hours without being able to move). It is a bit ironic to me that I worked for years (the better part of two decades) in jobs that required quite a bit of physical labor, but it wasn’t until after I had been working an office job for over two years that I started having major back problems. When the doctor asked me, on the first visit, what I had done to my back the best I could answer with was, “I wish I knew.”
The debate I’m having with myself is not whether or not to make another appointment with my doctor (that’s a given); what I’m wondering is if I should request another epidural or jump straight to inquiring about surgery. I’ve had people tell me that they’ve had the shots and they really don’t help much since they wear off. I’ve had people tell me that the surgery gave them their life back, while others (like my father-in-law-to-be) have had surgery for a herniated disc and to this day still have occasional nerve pain and numbness in their foot.
So, drugs, shots, or surgery – that’s the choice I have to make. It also goes almost without saying that I need to do more exercise to strengthen my core (yoga and yoga-like exercises seem to be the way to go) and I could certainly stand to drop some weight and inches off my waist as the old “spare tire” really isn’t helping my back at all. For now I just need to make the time to talk to my doctor and see what he recommends.