Bulging discs can be very common for women over 40, especially active women over 40. I have several friends who are suffering with L4-L5 and L5-S1 bulging discs or who know other people with this issue. The answer is not to live with the pain. I refuse to allow it to keep me from doing what I love, and I hope you won’t either!
Thankfully there are options to try before going under the knife for a spinal fusion surgery that requires months of recovery with minimal activity. As someone who enjoys working out, riding my horse and generally being active, a 6 month recovery process would require an unbelievable amount of patience.
My torn bulging discs are located in the very bottom of my spine. It is a common area of degeneration due to the stress on the area from bending at the waist. I have been having issues with the pain and bulging for about 6 years now. Off and on, my bulging discs would rear their ugly head causing nerve and sharp pain for a few weeks while I reduced my activity until the pain went away. No more though…I didn’t want to wait 4-6 weeks watching my muscles decline.
Last year, I began doing some recommended back strengthening exercises which seemed to help a lot. Admittedly, I had stopped doing them diligently as I should. There are very small muscles that connect the vertebrae — those are the true core muscles to strengthen your back. Trust me, I will certainly begin doing those exercises a few days a week now.
My Torn Bulging Discs Treatment
It seems this is most common with the best success rate. This is the procedure I had earlier this week. According to my doctor, the textbook answer to how long the cortisone injection is effective is 3 months. Actual effectiveness varies greatly per patient from a few hours to 9 months or longer. Someone can safely have 4 injections per year. It is my understanding that due to the steroids in cortisone, having over 400 mg of steroids a year can have negative effects and should be avoided.
My Personal Experience with Cortisone Steroid Injection
I prefer not to have any contact with needles or pain. When given the option of sedation or not during the procedure it wasn’t difficult to decide to have the sedation. The sedation is a light sedation, the same as when people have a colonoscopy. Apparently, you are awake enough to share your deep dark secrets and converse with the doctor as needed, but you have no memory of the experience. I remember being given the medication for the sedation, and vaguely remember walking back to the recovery recliner after the procedure. The procedure for me lasted about 10 min.
Note: Make sure you communicate to the nurse if you are not feeling the effects of the medication, which should be feeling groggy and sleepy. First dose of the medication I could not feel any effects, second dose did the trick. One of my friends did not have enough medication and remembers the entire procedure and felt a little pain.
Overall, the injection was so easy and I would not hesitate to have it again under sedation if necessary.
How I feel 3 days out from injection…
I wish I could say I am completely pain free but not yet. Likely what I am feeling is residual soreness of the procedure.
Prior to the injection, I was having sharp pains when bending, especially when attempting to pick up anything over 10 lbs, and also nerve pain that would shoot down my right leg.
Now, I have an ache on my right side pelvis area with zero nerve pain.
This was expected. It is common to have soreness after a needle enters into your spine. The pain is referred pain from that area of invasiveness.
According to the doctor, I needed to take it easy the day of the injection and afterwards resume activity as comfortable.
The day after the injection, I did a very modified workout. Quickly realizing bending movements exacerbated the ache, I skipped anything that involved bending.
I rode my horse for the first time in a couple of weeks but that too was a bit modified as well as shortened due to the ache I was feeling.
I expect the ache to completely go away in a few days as reported from my friends who have had the injection as well as the doctor’s knowledge. Of course, I will keep you updated!
Update: On the third day after my injection, the achy pain was completely gone!
I will continue to update this if the pain returns. So happy to be able to resume normal activity again!
Update: I am about 6 weeks out from the initial injection and the right side of my lower back is still feeling great! The left side started bothering me slightly a couple of weeks ago. The discs were bulging almost as badly on my left as the right when the MRI was taken, however, the left side was not symptomatic. Not the case anymore. I saw the doctor last Friday and once insurance approves the injection, I will have the left side injected also. I will keep you updated on the results!