L5 Disk Herniation with Free Fragment

The above title is not only the title of this article, but also the diagnosis that was read to me by my new friend and Neuro Surgeon, Doctor Gaffin of Provo Utah.

I am writing this article to chronicle in an abbreviated way, by battle with a back injury. If you have this experience GET TO A DOCTOR. I am not sure it will work out for you how it has for me, but I hope this information will be helpful.

Just before Christmas of 2010 while horse playing with me son, I felt a sharp twinge in my lower back. I had struggled off and on with back pain, but had never felt anything quite like this. Within a few hours my left leg was twitching like crazy, and my big toe was tingling. The next night the pain down my leg was EXTREME, Sciatica, and I felt I had a knife in my lower back. By the third day I was unable to lift my left foot, foot drop, and my big toe was totally numb.

I went in for an MRI, and had the results sent to Dr. Gaffin. The doc thought I would continue to worsen based on the Herniation, and free fragment that was sitting on my nerve root. He also felt surgery was eminent.

We both agreed, the doc and I, that we should give it 2 weeks, during that time take Muscle relaxers, pain killers, and begin physical therapy. This therapy was to include:

-Electrical stimulus

-Heat and cold treatment

-Specific stretching

-Specific exercise, the most valuable proved to be: Walking, light hiking, and squats against the wall with a large ball placed in the small of my back.


-LIGHT chiropractic manipulation, LIGHT LIGHT LIGHT

-Spinal injection of Steroid, and pain killer

Ok the results:

-After 2 weeks the pain had reduced by 50% and the toe numbness had worsened

-After 4 weeks the pain had reduced by 80% and the toe numbness was GONE

-After 6 weeks the pain had reduced by 80% and the foot drop had improved by 50%

-After 12 weeks the pain has now settled at 90% reduced, the foot drop is 90% improved

Dr Gaffin has seen me 3 times, each time saying “ Surgery cannot improve on improving, stay the course”

It has now been 5 months since the injury and I am thrilled to say that I am improving still. I am still walking, going to physical therapy and taking Ibuprofen, but I am getting better.