I have severe back spasms, L4 and L5 protrusions in discs, and my back is crooked.

by Hal Croteau
(Nanaimo , Canada)

My back is crooked having at times great back spasms that last 1/2hr of pure hell. Pain does not go down legs but they are always tingly. I have Mri and Ct scans showing protrusions in both L4 L5 discs.

I was bedridden for 10 days in hospital care and now at home walking around my house with the aid of a walker. I have had back problems for over 10 years and I'm 39 years old. I am told by a couple of chiropractors I know that I need a discectomy. Do you have any advice for me?
Thank you so much for your time.

Sincerely, Hal.

Hello Hal,
True, it doesn't look good. The MRI shows more than a protrusion; it's prolapsed. That in itself does not mean it's time for surgery though. This view of the scan only shows the problem at one level.

What's good is that you don't actually have pain down your legs; what's not so helpful is that the tingling is in both limbs.

All the research shows that straight bedrest, in or out of hospital doesn't usually help, so that's no surprise.

I have two questions. Are you doing daily gentle back exercises? And secondly have you been treated by one of your chiropractor friends?

My recommendation can be found at our slipped disc rules page. It's a combination of gentle chiropractic care, daily initially; simple exercises done on your bed of woe every half an hour, getting up every hour and hobbling about, and ice for pain control. If you've tried something like that and it hasn't helped, then perhaps it's time for a consultation with a surgeon.

If not then I'd consult with one of your friends. The treatment I'd use is a gentle side posture adjustment, on one side only; the position which is less painful.

I'm a great believer in gut feel; if you your feeling is that all is lost, then go for surgery. But recognise that it's no guarantee either and unless you go on with a lifetime of back exercises and being sensible there is likely to be a second and even third operation down the road.
Nothing will cure this permanently, neither surgery nor chiropractic. A daily disciplined exercise program, done on your bed every morning for the rest of your days is what will give your back a good chance of recovering.

Good luck, I hope you win. Let me know how you get on.

Dr Barrie Lewis

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