Herniated Discs Will Not Stop Me

You would need surgery!

His voice paralyzed me for a few minutes.

It’s a small minor surgery…” the rest of his explanations got swallowed by my racing mind.

Everything felt like they came crashing down on me when I walked out of his room.

The Big Reveal

I’ve blogged a lot about my back pain lately. How it caused sciatica pain that went down my leg and so excruciatingly painful.

Lower back pain is nothing new to me. I’ve had it for years but it does gotten worse since I had A. Massage has always been my remedies all of these years. They helped somewhat.

But the pain has gotten worse.

Few weeks ago it started going down my left leg. Sharp shooting pain would made me scream even cried silently, difficult to explain but at times it feels like something is ripping my calf apart. Some days the pain felt like sharp pains of a thousand needles being jammed down my leg.

Massage stop helping.

I have to thank my father who forced me to go see a doctor after he saw how I could barely walk and was in so much pain.

You need to get MRI” said the orthopedist.

Should I follow my father’s wishes, he’d want me to get the MRI done right that afternoon. I said no, let’s wait until my Krakatoa trip.

The doctor prescribed me pain killers.

I kept quiet about how painful it feels from my family because knowing them, they will surely wouldn’t let me go if I’m in so much pain.

Stubborn or stupid? Not sure but I just didn’t want to miss out on this trip only two days away at the time.

The pain grew worst and worst. It stopped me from hiking up the child of Krakatoa and from snorkeling in that vast blue water. It made me twisted my left ankle.

A day after I got back to Jakarta, on October 9, 2012 I booked the MRI.

Anyone who had MRI done knew how uncomfortable that big machine is. I laid there wondering if these companies can make such a high-tech machine that can scan your bones why on earth can’t they make it at least NOT that loud? The headset they put on my ear that suppose to play some music didn’t do anything to block out the loud knocking sounds from the MRI machine.

I had to get the MRI done twice that day! The guy said the radiology doctor wanted to made sure of some things. What am I to do but lay back down?

After they were done, the radiology doctor sat me down in her office.

She showed me my MRI results and my non-medical eyes can’t seems to grasps what I was staring at.

Not good…not good at all…

Returned back to the orthopedist the next day to hear my diagnosis.

You have HNP” he pointed to one part of the MRI result and he explained how bad mine looks right now.

Followed by the surgery lecture.

Herniated Discs

That’s what I have. Herniated discs on L4-5 and L5-S1 with L3-4 showing early signs of herniation. That’s what causing the sciatica pain that put me to tears.

Squat is a big no-no. No more lifting weights. My heart was dragging behind my steps as I walked out the doctor’s office that day. It took me a couple of days to shake off the depressions.

Because I refused surgery, I was referred to do Physical Therapy and prescribed with some strong pain killers.

The next day, I went to see the Physical Therapist doctor.

This doctor rocks, I tell you! She explained everything to me in ways that I could understand. She answered all my questions. She understand why I refused surgery unlike the cold orthopedist that just wanted to cut me open and assured me IF I follow what she ordered by consistently doing the physical therapies, hydrotherapy and swimming there is still a big chance I can avoid surgery.

We talked about what may have caused this. Why my back is now looking like a 75+ years old back instead of a 33 years old woman who has been taking care of her body.

What I love about this doctor is the way she did not blamed my working out like so many people did.

Working out is very good! There are many factors, and the fact that you’ve been having lower back pain for years. Weight lifting could be put a strain to your lumbar discs, it’s just a trigger but the source of the problem may have been there all along.”

She’s right…of course I didn’t know how serious my back has been other than it’s been hurting but I pushed through all my workouts. Plus it’s not like I was dead-lifting over 100lbs! But I may have had poor posture and that made my back even worse without me even realizing it.

There are a lot of factors so it annoyed me when people immediately blamed my workouts when they found out I have herniated discs.

So I began my physical therapies. Every other day.

I’m wearing a lumbar support brace that forced me to sit straight. Can’t sit for too long. One of the therapist showed me stretches I could do at home.

I am on the mend…

Have you had herniated discs? Share me your stories. I’m inspired to hear how other can avoid surgery. Thanks, friends!




Lifestyle and travel blogger, founder of Single Moms Indonesia on a quest of finding joy in everyday life and living life to the fullest with kindness, compassion, grace and a bit of sass.

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  1. October 16, 2012 / 7:15 pm

    My husband has the same exact thing you have. The surgery is risky, it can fix things but there is a chance you will end up paralyzed. For him, he had kinesitherapy and massage from professionals, and he had to re-learn how to better his posture and of course, exercise, not strenuous exercise but light cardio, walking etc.
    Now things are better, no more pain killers, nothing. He’s living like a normal person again. 🙂
    good luck, I hope you’ll also have positive improvements from the therapy!

    • Mo
      October 17, 2012 / 11:05 am

      Rima, thank you for sharing your hubby’s experience. Surgery no matter how minor they make it sounds always comes with risks and from what I read surgery will not even guarantee that there wouldn’t be any recurrence of the conditions in the future. I’m learning so much about the better posture now after my diagnosis. Wouldn’t you know that girls with big boobs tends to slouch and have a bad posture? The physio doctor told me “Be proud! Stop slouching that’s your assets and be proud of them!” Hahahaha that’s why I love her.

  2. October 16, 2012 / 8:07 pm

    I’m glad you took your own fate and diagnosis into your hands and asked for a second opinion. Surgery is drastic and should be the last option. I’m so glad you found an amazing doctor who’s on your side. Focus on getting better!
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    • Mo
      October 17, 2012 / 11:07 am

      Can’t thank you enough for your support, Alison! It’s so nice for once to find a doctor who is willing to listen to me and then offer solutions to fix my back instead of taking the surgery route.

  3. October 16, 2012 / 9:33 pm

    That is so painful. I totally understand. I held strong for 2 years before I evenutally gave in and had surgery. Actually, I had no choice. One of my discs and broken in half and a piece got lodged in my S1 nerve root.
    I had an aritificial disc replacement at L5/S1
    I have herniations t11/T12, L1/L2 (buldge), L3/L4, L4/L5, facet joint arthritis, spinal stenosis…gah there is much more than that.
    I’m 90 who was hit by a truck then ran over by a stampede of elephants.
    I say that surgery is the last thing to do. Once they cut, you automatically get scar tissue.
    Try every thing you can. Massage, therapy, traction, chiropractor, accupuncture…etc. Big hugs
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    • Mo
      October 17, 2012 / 11:09 am

      Oh Kim…I can’t even imagine how bad your pain must’ve been back then! I told my friend that I wouldn’t wish this kind of pain even to my worst enemy! It’s just so horrible!
      So so glad that surgery works for you, my friend. I was told by the physical therapist doctor that my herniated discs are pretty small but yeah they hurts like hell none the less but I am hopeful that I can live normally again by carefully adjusting my posture, my workouts, etc.
      Thanks so much for sharing Kim. You rock!

  4. October 17, 2012 / 7:20 am

    I am currently at the point of the after the appointment where they tell you surgery is needed – my MRI involves the same numbers as yours even so when I say I feel your pain, know that I do. I left that office 2 weeks ago (with the option of surgery or nothing) in tears and in search of another opinion. I hope the second doctor I see has the same understanding that yours did. I am concerned why this is becoming such a common problem…too much time at the computer perhaps? I don’t want to hear that! I wish you luck on your physical therapy, I hope it helps..I was also told it could just go away but it doesn’t work on wishes..
    Coffee Lovin’ Mom recently posted..Resilience in Children – Parenting 101My Profile

    • Mo
      October 17, 2012 / 11:12 am

      Oh no! These pain really sucks isn’t? Some days I had to lay down for at least 15 minutes before I could get a grip and get off the bed without crying from the pain.
      Oh believe me I googled and read so much after my diagnosis and I realized holy crap! So many things I’ve been doing turned out to be really bad for my back. Did you know that sitting Indian-style could strain our backs so much? I never thought! And I’ve always sit like this for years and I spent so many hours sitting by the computer for work, etc. Gah!
      Hoping the other doctor will help you in finding ways to help ease the strain on your back, my friend and surgery should really be the last resource.

  5. October 17, 2012 / 10:12 am

    I had sciatica pain when I was pregnant and it was SO painful! I’m sorry you have to go through all of that. I am just glad that the doctor could diagnose the problem so you can recover. I’ve been to physical therapy for various ailments and it helped me a lot. Surgery should be a last resort.
    Bicultural Mama recently posted..A Flu Shot Alternative to the Doctor’s OfficeMy Profile

    • Mo
      October 17, 2012 / 11:14 am

      Thank you so much, Maria! For me the sciatica pain started just weeks ago but the lower back pain, I’m used to that.
      Today will be my 3rd physical therapy sessions and so far it seems to help ease the pain and the pressure off my back.

  6. October 17, 2012 / 3:53 pm

    When something happens, it’s pointless blaming anyone or anything, isn’t it? Focus on finding solutions, that’s more critical. Maureen, I pray that you will find the treatment you need and get healed without having to go through surgery!
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    • Mo
      October 19, 2012 / 3:12 pm

      So true, Ruth. Thank you for that reminder. You are such a sweet sweet friend. Thank you so very much!

  7. October 17, 2012 / 5:11 pm

    You know mbak Maureen, after reading this I started to think that HD has become an epidemic. Couple years back I had a friend who had this…it was rare back then (well at least so I thought)… But for the past few month I learned that my friend here in Medan has it, and then only two days ago my friend in Jakarta also broke the news about this and now you…OMG!…and again I heard there is other solution besides surgery..my friend was told to swim, it eases the pain. I hope you get well soon mbak XX

    • Mo
      October 19, 2012 / 3:22 pm

      Rina, I’m not sure of the epidemic thing. It may got something to do that many people spend many hours a day sitting with bad postures, it could be one of the factors. I realized I’ve sit 10+ a day working on the computer with really bad posture.
      Thank you for your kind words and I hope your friends will get better soon too without surgery 🙂

  8. October 22, 2012 / 3:34 pm

    I’m amazed that you stubbornly still insisted on going for Krakatoa trip! Glad you find a good doctor. I always like those who are more conservative and use surgery as the last option. Good luck with th therapies and wish you a speedy recovery.

    • Mo
      October 25, 2012 / 9:47 am

      Hahaha, that’s what I thought too when I found out the results!
      Thanks, my friend. I am so lucky to have found that doctor too.

  9. November 11, 2012 / 12:55 pm

    It took me 12 MRIs, 2 rounds of PT, 3 ESIs, and a discectomy to get me to where I am now. I have herniated discs at L4-L5, and L5-S1. Both of which have some kind of bad tearing. I’m going for a discogram this Wednesday. They told me it’s going to hurt pretty badly, even with sedation. Then I will find out if I need a fusion surgery or artificial disc replacements. I’m also now facing a pinched nerve and/or herniated disc at the cervical spine level. I tell you all this because I’ve tried for 5 years to not end in surgery. If the problem is bad enough, surgery can always be an option. But if you can live with the pain, then definitely stay with PT and exercises. They won’t hurt you. I, personally, am a single mom. And I’ve missed out on a lot with my son due to my back. If one, long, painful surgery & recovery will get me to where I want to be with him, I’ll do it. Stay strong!

    • Mo
      November 12, 2012 / 9:25 am

      Hi Jaclyn,
      So so sorry to hear about your back and thank you so much for coming here and sharing your own experience. I really hope you will find the best solution for your back. From the look of it, you had tried many things to avoid surgery and although for now I’m trying to avoid it myself, I am not 100% opposed surgery but more like treating it as the last resorts. A lot of doctors here tend to push surgery as the first option and that’s what really irked me. I will be praying for you and your son! Hugs!

  10. November 17, 2012 / 12:05 pm

    Oh, Maureen – I’m so sorry it’s been so long from my last visit and even guiltier to find you’ve been having health problems. That stinks. I know it seems tempting to give in to blaming your work outs, but like you said, you’ve had this problem for a long time – you’ll heal and find another way to do the things that make you feel good. After all, you gave birth and that in itself is a miracle.
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  11. spee
    January 22, 2013 / 4:41 pm

    I understand your pain..I go for my first mri thurs ..my pain is alwsys there but sometimes so bad that it really brings me down.

    I was prescribed naproxen and have gone through the first 10 days with minimal pain improvement..everyday is a struggle. .

    Be strong!

  12. February 28, 2013 / 9:26 pm

    I just found out today that i fractured my spine in the car accident 6 months back. I have been having lower back pain since then. nothing can be done about it (the fractured spine) since it’s too late already, my ortho surgeon said. it would self-healed (but with some deformation unfortunately). even wearing braces or corset is too late already. but the risk of having herniated disk is large. my current ortho is not suggesting the mri, but i will do it 6 months later after my spine (hopefully) is fully healed. Can you share me your physical therapist contact number? will try to get some advise before i have to fly back to doha… thank’s in advance.

    • Mo
      March 4, 2013 / 2:57 pm

      Oh dear, so sorry to hear that Dian. I went to Dr. Laura Djuriantina,Sp.RM she’s rehabilitation doctor. You can check out her schedule on RSPI’s website. I hope you will feel better, girl. Sending you hugs and prayers.

  13. August 9, 2013 / 3:45 pm

    Sorry to hear about your herniated discs. Hope you’re doing better now. I cured mine with rest, followed by foot reflexology, moving on the gentle yoga. 3 weeks after it was diagnosed, and I couldn’t even turn in bed without help, I flew from Delhi to New York for my daughter’s graduation. I keep everything under control now with a lot of yoga, daily.
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    • Maureen
      November 30, 2014 / 10:57 am

      Wow thank you for sharing your own experience! I am doing hot yoga now and that helps a lot 🙂

    • Maureen
      November 30, 2014 / 10:58 am

      Thank you Miss Robin yes I am doing much better now 😀

  14. September 24, 2013 / 8:57 pm

    One of my daughters has a single herniated disk and I’ve seen her pain but she does work at being healthy. She also has chosen to avoid surgery. Best Wishes. Congrats on your SITS Day.
    Sheila Skillingstead recently posted..Fall is hereMy Profile

    • Maureen
      November 30, 2014 / 10:59 am

      Thank you Sheila! I hope your daughter is doing well now, kudos for her to do the right thing by her body 🙂

  15. Toni
    May 14, 2014 / 12:14 am

    When I was a young teenager I was hit by a car. Later as an older teen my back began to bother me terribly. I went to a chiropractor who adjusted me and unfortunately the next day my right leg felt like it was on fire. My gym teacher thought I was faking. That was the intro to the next 10 years of my life as a faker. Every doctor I went to ignored my cry for help. I’m a gym monkey and refused to let the pain interfere with my life but recently I came to my knees. Pain had its ominous hands around my spin twisting every bit of life from me. I went to the ER and they gave me steroids they helped for a week. A few weeks later I found myself in the ER again. I finally went to the ortho. He sent me for an MRI and the pain went away. I’m going crazy. Maybe I am faking it? I’m so depressed and I just wish I could do what I used to be able to do without all of this healing and injury.

    • Maureen
      November 30, 2014 / 11:02 am

      Hi Toni omg I am so sorry that people that suppose to help you didn’t even believe you! I wish I could help but I do know and understand how frustrating and difficult it to to have a painful back that greatly affected your life. I’ve read steroid shots could help easing the pain out but I haven’t try it. Sending you lots and lots of healing thoughts!

  16. Ana
    November 30, 2014 / 12:07 am

    Hi Maureen,

    Thank you for sharing your story! Have you recovered from the herniated discs? What was the thing that helped you the most with it and what have you tried out?

    I am 20 and got a very similar condition as you last December, and almost a year now I have had almost no improvement! 🙁 Exercises, stretches and massage are not seeming to help too much. It would be promising to hear that there is a hope for such a condition.

    • Maureen
      November 30, 2014 / 11:03 am

      Hi Ana, thank you for your comment.

      So sorry to hear you are still having problems with your back.I knows how frustrating that feels like.

      I am doing much better but I still have bad days when my back would flare up. So I think it will not completely go away but what helps me is being more mindful of my posture (while walking or even sitting) and that’s the hardest part because I still get into bad posture sometimes. I also do hot yoga and it seems to help a lot!

      Also I love this guy on youtube, he is sharing a lot of tips for low back pain. It helps me understands what type of movements irritate my back and I avoid that like in yoga class. http://youtu.be/Oufgeat0dG8?list=UU5aR8alDOHDp7WRRlFwHOWw Do browse his videos. Or check out their website: http://www.noregretspt.com.au/index.php/resources/blog/43-2014/162-lower-back-pain-exercise-secrets-part-1

      Good luck Ana!

  17. December 18, 2014 / 11:40 am

    Maureen … its really bad to hear that you are steel having this problem. I can understand this problem very well because i had seen so many cases regarding sciatica. It’s such a horrible condition of back pain. Medication is essential to recover but many people afraid to continue their exercise which impact negative to their health.

    Stretching and movement are as helpful as the pills or therapies. It play major role in healing.
    Pray for you get well soon….!

    • Maureen
      December 18, 2014 / 11:44 am

      Thanks James! My sciatica is mostly gone now which is great but I still get occasional lower back soreness on a bad day. I had learned that forward bending movements trigger the back pain so I try to avoid bending forward too deeply like in a lot of yoga movements. So far hot yoga seems to works wonder for me but I am always extra mindful with the forward bending. I haven’t take any pills for over a year now so that is great. Thanks for stopping by and your kind wishes. 🙂

      • James Hughes
        December 18, 2014 / 11:57 am

        It sounds well. Yoga and stretching is really good to increase the strength of muscles and nerve system.

  18. Mia
    July 2, 2017 / 7:29 pm

    Hi Mo! I didn’t realize you had this condition for quite a few years already. How is it now?

    I first got it on Early Feb 2016. Same like you, I refused surgery. My condition is similar… But my worst part is in L5-S1. The MRI also showed that the herniation almost blocked the spine. I know you your leg feels. -.-

    I’ve tried almost everything. Physical therapy, medicines (swallowed, rubbed), acupressure, went to a sensei and gave me herbal thingy, went to a suhu, swimming and last thing I tried was yoga.

    In the end, I have my own conclusion, the thing that makes my body feels manageable is yoga, and I think it’s because I mend my own body by doing my own stretches. In a way, I’m healing from the inside. Not from the outside like physical therapy does to our body.

    What works for you in the end, Mo?

  19. August 20, 2017 / 8:36 pm

    herniated disc is a very big problem and the solutions fully dont help sometimes.

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