Back pain

I am 21 years old, and been loosely dianogsied with Sciatica and muscular back spasms for the past year and a half and recently I have been told I have a slipped disc and have had numbness in my right leg which I couldn't feel for a week and a half and the leg kept going numb for abit but not as long as the right one, I have had an MRI scan and that has shown up as nothing there, I have had to stop working as I can barely walk as I work as a chef so standing on my feet for 14 hours a day hasn't helped but I cannot afford to be off much longer and been given loads of pain killers and muscle relaxers but they just don't work has anyone got any advice on how I can handle the pain? I have been told I'm getting referred to spinal surgeon but best case I will get an appointment in 6 weeks.

17 Replies

  • Hi Zoe10195 sciatic pain is awful, have you tried a tens machine which will block the pain message going to the brain, it's something you could wear at work and not be affected by medication side effects, I hope you get some relief soon.

    Sending gentle hugs Sheryl

  • Feel for you Zoe so young! Still sciatica can turn up at any age. Hopefully this bout will right itself in time it can take up to 6 weeks. Six weeks to see the surgeon is pretty quick. I suspect before anything you will have an MRI. Maybe you have a compressed disc like myself which then squeezes the sciatic nerve causing all your unpleasant symptoms. Drugs do not always take the pain away completely just the edge and yes it is very difficult to do your every day things & are disabled overnight. I have compressed disc L4/L5 spinal stenosis L5S1 causing sciatica and numbness. I have had plenty of treatment Epidural injections with some relief Pain killers & anti-inflammatory tabs I have been to pain management they advised Butrans patch slow release painkillers they do help. Also been referred to surgeon.

    It it's any help when I first got sciatica it did right itself of it's own accord in time and didn't raise its ugly head until 28 years later. This now is chronic & ongoing unfortunately. I suffer that amongst arthritis in all joints.

    I do hope that you get relief and resolves itself naturally.

    Take care

  • I definitely know back pain! First off, google "exercises for sciatica" - there are some very simple ones that really do make a difference. Also look at the shoes you are wearing. What you need on your feet is something that is incredibly shock absorbing - really good quality springy soles. Then you also need to really pay attention to how you are standing, leaning, bending, stretching over your work benches, etc. If you can, get someone to watch your posture as you work, and make suggestions, and again, google "safe lifting and carrying" to make sure you really understand how to move and carry things like full pots and pans safely. All that is going to help minimise the risk of making things worse, even if it doesn't get rid of the pain. The six weeks before you see the surgeon will go quickly, even though it may not seem it right now.

  • Hi Zoe10195,

    Hmmmm. I hear you. I really do.

    The other issue to consider is 'how much of a potential danger' you could be to your colleagues in such a fast paced and frenetic environment.

    My aunt and niece are chefs and well..... let's just say I've seen them in action and don't think you will be able to cope in your present condition.

    I hope you can find a way to cope financially and would recommend that you present all your medical information to your employers to see what sort of adjustments they can make for you - perhaps you could do some office work insted such as 'ordering and checking stock', rotas, menu design, cashiering etc.

    Wishing you all the best going forward. Six weeks will be up in no time at all, the delay is in actually waiting for the op.

  • You've received lots of very good advice and I can offer some from the point of view of having surgery for the same symptoms.

    I'm two weeks post surgery for a spinal decompression -L4/L5 which frees the nerve and they also put in an implant called "dynamic stabilisation" It has been a success. Even this early after surgery my leg and foot pain has gone. I have exercises (gentle) to do every day and after my six week check up I will be seeing a physiotherapist and the exercises will be core strengthing.

    It took 3 years to get a diagnosis that I had disc protrusion as I could only have a CT scan as I have a spinal cord stimulator in situ for upper body neuropathic pain and can't have an MRI. It was the neurosurgeon who did my op who spotted the problem from the CT scan. I had a number of CT scans and the problem was missed but that's water under the bridge now. Just happy I got a good result.

    Best of luck with with your appointment.

  • I'm really interested in the 'dynamic stabilisation' Kimm4; can you tell me more please? I've had three discectomies and still have other disc herniations & prolapse. I've never heard of this procedure although it could just be my hospital I guess. Are you in the UK?


  • Hi Rayjac

    I was supposed to have a microdiscectomy and fusion but because they would have to use diathermy to cut through the muscle that was off the table as I have a NEVRO Spinal Cord Stimulator and basically I would have been electrocuted. The dynamic stabilisation was my best option. It's a spongy implant that keeps the discs apart. I Googled it because that will explain it better than I can. Kim X

    No I'm not in the UK-Ireland

  • Thank you for that; really Interesting for me as I've got DDD and currently two more lumbar disc bulges/prolapsed. I'll mention it to my spinal surgeon to see if it's available here and if so, where!! Could be a possibility.....

    I had a trial of an scs but didn't meet the percentages of relief for it. Such a shame as I was quite happy with the little relief it gave me but the hospital had a strict criteria for full implant.

    I was also a candidate for a DRG stimulator but the MRI they did showed up too much scar tissue & damage to get it in so I'm without any technology now! Just drugs, stretching & physio.


  • I Rayjak I had a Graf stabilisation 20 odd years ago I think this is what is now called a dynamic stabilisation my surgeon referred to it as nuts and bolts and elastic bands it was great for the first 20 years not so good now hence I'm now possibly getting the spinal cord stimulator get the impression that surgery really hasn't moved on from then though it was quite ground breaking and experimental at the time would love to have been able to have a solution like it again but 20 years mainly pain free was good.

  • 20 years is pretty good going isn't it? Was it due to DDD or a fracture or......? I've been looking it up online and seems to still be carried out in certain places but not at my hospital although I don't know if more surgery would cause more problems!! All a bit rubbish.......

    Hope the SCS works out for you.


  • Yes would of been perfect if I hadn't been in my early twenties at the time , have hyper mobile joints in my spine was told I'd ' worn out 2 discs l4/l5 L5/S1 Cat

  • Hello

    Interesting to read your post, I injured my back October 9th 2016, went to a private chiropractor who hurt and left me in too much pain.Physio didn't really do anything she thought it was nerve problems. Saw the MSK specialist, sent for MRI, he said after the 4 wk wait to see him, I have a small disc herniation at L5/S1 level which indent on the nerve root. I also have a Tarlov cyst which he didnt even tell me-I read it in a letter!

    -Ive not had much luck/improvement so not getting my hopes up. Just want to know what will be done afterwards-specialist says he wouldnt consider me for surgery at this stage so does that mean I have to suffer until it gets worse then have surgery?!

    Im just so frustrated, 30 years old work in a busy childrens nursery on very light duties, signed off work at the mo as I can't cope with the moving around, use a crutch on bad days. Just hoping i will get better soon been 8 months now but I see reading other's posts chronic pain is a eternal thing, Childcare is my profession been there for 13 years nearly finished my degree to hopefully go onto teacher training. If this continues i might have to think about changing professions.

    Sorry for rambling


  • G'day Chef,

    Have you ever considered seeking Osteopathic treatment. I was 21 (now over 50 years ago) I wrecked my lower back, by poor lifting techniques etc., I got away with it with pain killers until in my late 40's. Then as happens with the aging process the original injuries reappeared with a vengeance ! So when I was 21 it was 1965 and in those days the NHS wouldn't even recognise osteopathy or chiropracty.

    Muscle relaxers and pain killers are unlikely to work - long run !

    I still attend a Osteopath as needs be and am now OK.

    My point is it will only cost you the price (about £50) of a first visit (up to an hour and half in length) by way of a consultation and get some advice on what can be done. Take along all your medical evidence if you have it and tell the Osteo. After the first consultation its up to you whether you take it further. Usually, the first consultation will include a manipulation.

    My initial feelings, based on my experience, do not let your GP or back surgeon get a hold of you - you are too young for that.

    If you want to know more go 'online' and explore the Osteopaths professional website and from that website you should be able to locate an osteo near where you live in UK.

    Good luck


  • What I have found useful for my sciatica has been gentle exercises in water. I googled that topic and go regularly to a swimming pool. First couple of sessions were horrible and I have learnt not to overdo things. So now I only stay in the water for about 20 mins. But now after years of serious pain and serious meds I hardly have to take meds.

    Worth a try if nothing else?!

  • How did a doctor diagnose a prolapsed disc if the MRI showed 'nothing'?

    Sciatica is so painful isn't it; stops you in your path at times........

    You could try acupuncture, massage, yoga or pilates. If you can find a therapist or teacher for any of these that have specialist knowledge or interest in back pain, that'll be a bonus!

    Maybe a referral to physiotherapy? They'll be able to show you stretches & exercise to do properly & safely.

    There isn't a quick fix unfortunately; you may need to reduce your medication slowly to restart some again; we get tolerant to them so they seem to do nothing for us. By taking less it almost kick starts them into working again.

    What meds have you got?

    I understand the panic of losing your job but that stress will only increase your pain. Is your boss understanding? Are you coming to the end of your sick leave? If it comes to it, can you afford to go onto benefits?

    I know it's all so daunting and possibly too forward thinking but it's good to plan!

    I hope you find some relief from somewhere; hopefully seeing a consultant will give you some more answers.......


  • You say: "I have had an MRI scan and that has shown up as nothing there." This indicates that you may have muscle cramps which are causing nerve compression.

    You need to see an Alexander Technique teacher who can show you ways of standing for long periods of time without injuring yourself. You also need to find a massage therapist who can explore the muscles in your back and legs.

    One of the things that I have been shown by my McTimony chiropractor is that tight muscles in the legs will pull the lower vertebrata onto root nerves. When I have chiropractor treatment I have my leg muscles stretched in order to reduce the stress on my lower vertebrate.

    Pain killers will not solve the muscle problem. The only way to solve the muscle problem is to learn to use your muscles better.

    Also you need to look at your sleep regime. If you do not get enough sleep you will lose fine control of your muscles and this will trigger all sorts of muscle pain problems.

    Seeing some of the therapists above is expensive but a lot cheaper in the long run if they enable you to keep in employment.

    Hope this helps.

  • Vitamin B12 can help with inflammation and therefore it helps reduce pain in some people, you need to go for quite a high dosage in methyl B12 form (not cyanocobalamin). It can help quite a bit with nerve damage also. Do you have any other symptoms from this list that might point to a deficiency?

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