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MRI shows L5 tear pressing on sciatic nerve - anyone had the same prognosis??

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,662

I posted some time ago on cervical as had ACDF last Jan, but now have L5 (think L4/5 - second bottom) "tear" which has protuded and is pressing on sciatic nerve. Have pain from back to foot, numbness and urinary urgency.

Been told is going to do whole pelvic MRI and EMG test also and will refer for epidural injection for pain

Has anyone else had this problem and what was the outcome? After last year really don't want any more surgery



  • I have a very similar diagnosis. Although I am not sure that I have an L5 tear I do have pressure on my sciatic nerve from a bulging disc.
    Get an MRI as soon as possible.
    I will be going for my second Epidural injection tomorrow and am hoping for more improvement. The first one alleviated a lot of the pain(I could not even sleep on my side, however walking and sitting have been a problem.) I have not been able to work, drive or walk for a week now. I understand that the 2nd epidural provides a lot more movement so I can only hope.

    Surgery has been mentioned but each case is different. I think age and the severity of the injury dictate. None of which can be determined without an MRI. Im a 38yr old active male and my Doctors and Chiro say Im a good candidate. The alternative is the possibility of shots whenever their is a flareup
    Good Luck

  • and I waited 4 months, only 4 months, and now have permanent nerve damage. My S1 nerve burns 24/7, and I have lateral numbness from hips to toes. Balance issues are serious for me, but I wear safe shoes and walk carefully.

    Recently got the spinal cord stimulator and it has changed my life. Thank God for that technology.

    I would follow your doctors instructions. I wasted time at a chiropractor while I was deep in denial. Now, obviously wish I hadn't.

    Good luck!

  • Are you seeing a spinal specialist and is s/he aware of the urinary problems? Usually any involvement with bowel or bladder is a red flag. It is a symptom of cauda equina syndrome and is one of only three reasons for emergency surgery. Other nerve pain can wait, but when the bowel and/or bladder are effected, you need to get it checked out right away to be sure you will not end up with permanet nerve damage.
  • states "annular tear at L4/5 on the left which is seen as a high intensity zone. In addition there is a mild bulge at this area which could be just sufficient to catch the nerve root causing the symptoms.

    In view of her (my) symptonms, I feel we should take the investigation further and arrange an MRI of the pelvis as well as nerve conduction studies/needle EMG of her limbs to exclude any occult pathology"

    whatever that last bit means?

    He seems to be taking the numbness/urinary urgency seriosuly and so just waiting now to get the appts for the further tests

    He did say the MRI shows no spinal cord compression (good news) so if anything else then we will find out. Thing is have had problems with balance and walking for years since a really bad fall downstairs, but things have got progressively worse over the last year since the ACDF in C6/7 - could be just coincidence, but now sitting hurts, standing I have to lean forward on something, shopping I have to lean on the trolley etc

    so perhaps may be too late now anyway
  • means .old damage not significant to your present condition
    occult means .old pathology study of bio tissue
    here endeth the biology lesson!
  • When you find it more comfortable to lean on a shopping cart while walking, or that leaning forward is more comfortable, it is often a sign of lower lumbar stenosis.The annular tear at L4-5 can result in the same situation. This decreases space in the spinal column and ends up compressing a nerve. When you lean forward, the discs open up a tad and it releases pressure on the pinched nerve.
  • as when I told my NS he said yes that would help.

    Thank you for telling me what occult pathology is - thought it may be something to do with witchcraft!! lol

    Just waiting to see what further scan and EMG say now - and taking pain meds and heat pads in between!

    Scary stuff though this getting old

    Spinal stenosis? Would he not have mentioned that? is that like DDD as he mentioned that - one of the discs in the thoracic area is jet black
  • You may not have stenosis. It was just the first thing that popped into my head when you mentioned leaning on things. It is related to degeneration in the spine and often goes hand in hand with DDD.
  • stenosis .all that means is reduction or restriction of the internal bore of the spine {when used with the word spinal in front of it}
    DDD degenerative disc disease is not actually a disease it is the term for the natural deterioration of the disc {many people have this condition with out any pain}.tends to only be a problem when combined with stenosis or protrusion of disc matter in to the spinal cord
    dark disc means dehydration
    i hope this is of some use to you also please note that this is my interpretation of the words and should not be taken as up to date information as i have no formal medical training
  • Wee now had my emg test and this confirms moderate nerve root compression at L5 although not had the full report -this is just what he has told me

    My legs burn and hurt so much that i just dont know what to do, and when i sit i cant feel my left buttock but it still hurts

    Not sure if they can manage this conservatorily or not - perhaps with injections or something?
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