Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Spine and Back Health

Lower Back Problem - Lumbar Spine

01/20/2010

Question:

Hi, I am a male, aged 23. I have a lower back problem for about 10 months now primarily due to lifting and also sitting for a long period of time. I don`t feel any numbness in my legs or any other areas of my body. my lower back pain occurs when i sit for a longer period or when I try to stretch. I had an xray last year and it showed no abnormalities.

Last december I finally consulted a doctor and he recommended me to have an MRI scan, so last week i finally had it and the result of the scan are the following:

-The lumbar spine shows straightening of the normal lordotic curve. -There is compression of the L4-5 intervertebral disk with diffuse disk bulge showing central to left moderately narrowed while the right neural foramen is mildly narrowed -The adjacent L3-4 and L5-S1 levels likewise show mild posterior central disk protrusion indenting the thecal sac. The corresponding neural foramina do not exhibit significant narrowing.

IMPRESSION: -L4-5 slight disk compression and diffuse bulge with central to left foraminal marked protrusion/extrusion producing moderate central canal and left foraminal stenosis and slight right foraminal stenosis. -L3-4 and L5-S1 mild posterior disk protrusions indenting the thecal sac. -Lumbar straightening may be due to muscle spasm.

My doctor recommended me to have an operation/surgery cos according to him this will eliminate the pain for life. According to him if the treatment will be based on therapy or medication alone there is a possibility that the pain may occur again. Having heard from him, what are the therapies that he is mentioning? I still like to keep my options open... Is surgery the only best solution to this problem? Thanks very much for the time.

Answer:

First, I suggest that you be very wary of any surgeon who promises "pain free for life". Run. Run far. Run fast.

On this site, we try to answer general questions about health but cannot diagnose or recommend treatment. You appear to have some very, very specific questions about your condition, which can only be answered properly by a physician who is familiar with your history, physical exam, and test results. Your questions about the testing results you've been given or the risks, benefits, and alternatives for proposed treatments of this condition need to be directed to your treating physician(s). You should insist that they answer these questions in a way that you are able to understand before consenting to any treatment.

If your physician is unable to help you understand these issues, you should get a second opinion. Take care.

For more information:

Go to the Spine and Back Health health topic, where you can:

Response by:

David J Hart, MD David J Hart, MD
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University