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DDD no nerve impingement, but nerve pain?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
I am going to add this question to my list for the surgeon, but I thought I would ask you guys here, hoping someone might know what is going on.

I have DDD in L4/L5 and L5/S1. According to my MRI, I don't have a herniation or stenosis (no nerve impingement). But I definitely have nerve pain. It is a stinging/burning pain that goes down into my thigh, my lower leg, and into my feet, and sometimes some slight numbness (at the skin level - more like desensitization).

Can nerve pain come from the discs themselves? If so, can someone explain how that might happen?


  • that some believe that herniations release a chemical that irritates the nerves, leading to damage if not taken care of soon enough. Definitely let us know what your doctor says!! Make sure he takes your nerve pain complaints seriously. Good luck!!

  • Oh, so far I have had great doctors, who have been treating me exceedingly well. Not to say that my pain has been under control all the time, but they have been working toward getting it under control, and doing everything in an orderly way.

    My surgeon was the one who told me that there was no nerve impingement, according to the MRI. But he is recommending a two level fusion or disc replacement and fusion.

    I guess what I am wondering is, can there be nerve pain from something other than nerve impingement or herniation, because I don't see to have either of these. And then another important question then becomes, if I have surgery, how is that supposed to get rid of the nerve pain. I guess I'll have to wait and talk to him.
  • Some of my pain was from my facet joints arthritis. I have had one injection for the joints and it stopped some of the burning pain. I still wonder since it's DDD if when the discs are bone on bone there must be some nerve irritation from the discs moving on your nerves. But that's a good question to ask the Docs like you plan to do anyway. I would be interested to hear also. I see the 2nd opinion Ortho Jan. 22. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • My wife has almost the same description of her pain and multiple MRIs (about 1/year the last 4+ years) indicate only slight narrowing of the neural foramina at L5-S1 with minimal disk bulge and annular disk tears in 2 levels.

    One surgeon stated there is no visible reason this level of pain should be there, but the new development of pain down her leg, thigh, foot is almost identical to what is described at the start of this topic. My wife is not losing her mind, the pain is real (has been for 7 years since a bad day at an amusement park).

    We are looking into minimally invasive procedures (LSI, Bonati, and all the confusing variants around the country as a last hope to fusion after many other procedures) along with a 2 level PLIF, but our concern in either case is how does either approach pinpoint and remove the pain generation. I don't see how basically exploratory surgery (the minimally invasive approach) can visually remove tissue or bone to remove root pain with such vague indications on the MRI (not an obvious herniation or nerve impingement). While a fusion is just throwing the baby out with the bath water and hoping for the best.
  • If there are annular tares present they allow the gel like substance inside the disc to protrude out and compress the nerves. This is normally diagnosed by discogram. That is how mine was found.
  • I have also had nerve pain when an MRI shows no nerve impingement. Then they did a discogram - which DID show exactly which disc was causing the nerve pain down my legs.
    I just had another fusion of L3-L4 and they re-fused L4-L5. Whole lumbar now fused except for L1-L2.
    I have finally gotten about 75% relief from my nerve pain(still hurts like hell at times, but it was unbearable before). Right foot is still mostly numb - completely whenever I sit for more than 10 minutes.
    My pain management doctor did think it was due to the chemical reaction in my body along with inflammation around the nerves.
    And Lyrica works miracles for my nerve pain most of the time.
    Good Luck and Stay Positive! Julia
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