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Herniated Disc just diagnosed
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brokenmom2 posted:
Hello all- the results of my MRI showed a herniated disc, which is the cause of my pinched nerve(s). I have on-going issues with tendonitis/arthritis in my joints, which limits my every day activites like cleaning house. I decided to do a bit of cleaning for Valentine's Day, but just severly strained my back and pinched a nerve in my right side. Meds and PT followed, and I did ok....THEN...

Last week my tailbone was really bothering me (arthritis) for two days, then on the third day I woke up with that familiar feeling- oh crap, I've pinched the nerve on my RIGHT side now! Went to my morning PT session, hoping the heat and stim would help. It didn't. I was in excrutiating pain-worse ever! By two in the afternoon I couldn't take it anymore and called hubby to take me to the ER. Got a few shots and 5 meds. I am doing better, but my left foot, ankle and part of my calf are numb and the leg feels generally weak. I am trying to walk as normal as possible today because the limping is aggrevating the tendonitis in my hip.

So I have an appointment with an orthopedic back specialist April 13 to go over my MRI results and get a plan of action. In the meantime I am continueing with my PT. What worries me is this numbness. Will it be ok? I won't get permanent damage will I?

I've had 3 tendonitis-related surgeries(elbow, shoulder and foot). They helped, but not completely. So I am a bit aprehensive about a back surgery. I am curious to those who have had disc surgery- did it help?

thanks-
Jackie
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bj1208 responded:
Hi Jackie - welcome to the support group -

I had surgery 3 years ago - Anterior Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 - my disc was blown plus I had DDD (degenerative disc disease) -

SURGERY should be the last resort when all other treatments fail - this was the only reason I had surgery. And there are different types of back surgery - this can only be decided by yourself and your spine specialist -

Now regarding the pinched nerve and any damage - There is a test - EMG with Nerve Conduction test - this will give them the readouts of whether or not you have any nerve damage and if it is permanent.

Since you don't yet have a diagnosis of your back problems I would hold off on any physical therapy treatments - I trust only spine specialist and/or pain management doctors to write the correct type of therapy needed as they will know what is wrong and what needs to be done - going in blindsided to physical therapy and/or chiropractic treatments can cause worse problems if they don't know the full diagnosis.

the best thing you can do is when you sleep at night put a pillow between your knees when sleeping on ur side or under your knees when sleeping on your back - a big NO NO do not sleep on your stomach as this causes too much pressure on the spine.

try massaging the area yourself - you can also try topical ointments - I like ASPERCREAM - oderless - it does not take away all pains but does help a little -

Unfortunately, I have nerve damage in both my legs - I do take a medication that helps - Neurontin (gabapentin is generic) - there is also Lyrica which has helped quite a few people -

There really is no way of knowing if you have nerve damage until you have seen the spine specialist and they conduct more tests -

I know it can be nerve wracking waiting for the appointment but take it easy and don't stress - this causes more pains - and be careful with housework etc., as this will aggravate it more -

take care - ^Joy^
 
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Rafael Levin, MD, MSc responded:
Dear Jackie,

I was pleased to learn that you are scheduled to see a spine specialist primarily relatively soon based on your report of your "....leg feels generally weak."

First, you should know that in the majority of cases, symptomatic lumbar disc herniations are successfully treated without surgery. Surgery for disc herniations are typically considered a last resort option based on quality-of life considerations after failure of non-operative treatment (medications, therapyl, epidural injections)

In some cases, however, depending on the location and size of the herniation, and depending on clinical findings on your examination, micro-surgery may be recommended as the most predictable option for long-term relief of leg pain and numbness, and for restoration of strength and function. In general, micro-discectomy (the surgical removal of a disc fragment that is pinching your nerve) has a high success rate in relieving leg symptoms (85-95%). Relief of back pain can be less predictable, however. Therefore, your discription of predominance of leg symptoms is a positive prognostic factor should you be considered a candidate for disc surgery.

I hope you will find relief without the need for surgery, but if you end up having a micro-discectomy, be reasured that relief of leg pain is generally achieved with high predictability.

All the best
 
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brokenmom2 replied to Rafael Levin, MD, MSc's response:
Thank you both so much! Your responses give me a little more hope that this issue may be able to resolved without surgery.

I will let you know how it all turns out!
 
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mandeline1 responded:
Hello. I too have recently been diagnosed with a herniated disk. I have read that if you are in extreme pain now, the surgery will more than likely help you. I am sure numbness will subside after the surgery or treatment plan. The numbness is probably from the disk pushing on certain nerves in your back and will eventually go back to their normal state. I am afraid of the shots if the physical therapy does not work. My friend said they are just as painful as the slipped disk is!
 
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bj1208 replied to mandeline1's response:
hi and welcome to the support group -

first - surgery is the last resort - after all other treatments have been done - there is no guarantee that surgery will correct and/or cause you to be pain free.

second - it's best to try the shots - the injections really are not that bad - they do inject a numbing agent into the back, then guided by a florascopic x-ray machine they inject the steroid medication into the areas that are inflamed. physical therapy should also be done at the same time as the injections as they both work hand-n-hand.

third - there is no guarantee either that if a disc pressing on nerve roots will return to normal. there used to be a rule of thumb whereas if the disc problems pressing on the nerve roots is corrected within 6 months the nerve roots can heal themselves but this can take quite a while - sometimes lasting up to a year or longer to heal. and if not done within 6 months that sometimes permanent nerve damage can set in. I was told this by one of my pain management doctors about 5 years ago and don't know if that is an accurate fact or not.

there have been instances where bulging discs can move back into the corrective disc space. physical therapy/chiropractic treatments/aquatic therapy etc., can help reduce the pains and sometimes can help the disc problems and nerve issues.

Please research more - there is nothing that I have ever read that states you will or are in extreme pain now that the surgery will help you as I stated above there is no guarantee - there are hundreds of people walking around with severe disc problems and don't know it - no pain nothing - while others can have the slightest disc bulge and are in extreme pain.

you can click on my name or pic and read my story - I had surgery 3 years ago. my surgeon stated he could correct the disc problem whereas he could not guarantee that is would reduce my pains. he was correct - he removed my disc put a plate, screws and cage in - this is a Fusion surgery - I fused 100% - but my pains are worse now than before my surgery and I also have permanent nerve damage in both legs (L5 disc was protruding on both sides - left side is worse and wear a leg brace and back brace).

Let us know exactly what your doctor diagnosed you with - which disc - who did you see (what type of doctor, i.e., neurosurgeon spine specialist or orthopedic spine specialist?) have they advised of a treatment plan? what type of treatments.

the more we know what has been diagnosed the better we can help you. take care - Joy
 
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chronicpainqueen replied to mandeline1's response:
Hi, I have had it ALL!!!!! As far as the shots go, here is what happened to me. I was deathly afraid of needles in my back due to a previous experience. When they wanted me to get shots I told them this, I was prescribed 10mg of valium before every shot, I helps alot! It is allowable but I guess it depends on your doctor. It won't hurt to ask! Most docs will want shots way before surgery. They can be extremely helpful. There are two different kinds. One in the facia, (not sure of word) ,point is there is also nerve blocks, which may be a better option for you. As always whatever you and your doc decide. It is helpful to have as much infor as possible before a visit. I found out the hard way that not knowing what to ask can lead to alot of treatments that won't help, will cause more frustration and pain than they're worth. Best luck and I wish you much relief.
God Bless,
Lisa


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