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New poster looking for info (Lumbar spine)

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
I have been reading these posts for a little while (and it has helped quite a bit to realize I am not alone) and have decided to stop reading and start posting to try and get some more info from you all.
I have struggled with back issues since I was 18, I am now 39. For the first 16 years I was misdiagnosed by one doctor after another, they would take an x-ray and tell me it was just a muscle, I continued to tell them all that it was NOT a muscle and something felt like it was out of place ( I would literally be crooked during an episode), I changed doctors in 2004 and he was shocked that no one had ever ordered an MRI, that led to the discovery that both the L3/4 and 4/5 discs were herniated and on top of that I also have DDD, spinal stenosis, and arthritis at both levels (and now with the latest MRI it appears that the arthritis is moving into S1 also).
I had a laminectomy 12/2004 on L3-4 (NS pulled a disc fragment out) then I had another laminectomy 11/2005 on L4-5 (NS pulled another fragment and said it was the biggest one he had ever seen) since then it has been one episode after another. This is now my 4th week off of work (I have a desk job) due to some newer symptoms that I really had not experienced before, both of my feet being tingly and numby feeling (it feels like someone set a phone on vibrate on the soles of both of my feet) I am not driving for fear that my feet will not respond and I will cause an accident. Another symptom that seems to be getting worse is the god awful ache I get in my legs, it starts at my low back and just travels down to my toes. I cannot sit or stand for any period of time without it getting very painful. I saw my NS two weeks ago and he said that we could try ESIs and PT and if that did not work he recommended a fusion, he said it would make more sense to do both levels since if he did the one at the 4/5 level it would only be a matter of time before the 3/4 had to be done. Not being a doctor even I could see on the MRI that the 4/5 disc is black and about ¼ of the size of the other “normal” discs and the 3/4 disc is about ½ the size and black also.
I underwent my first ESI on May 1st and am not noticing any difference at all (it hurt like heck and I was not offered mild sedation). I have another one scheduled for the 15th. PT right now is mostly just deep tissue massage, ultrasound heat and the PT stretching my legs, I also using a TENS unit.
Right now the only meds that I am taking is Gabapentin and Percocet 10/325 (which do not help nearly long enough), sometimes I feel like my family doctor thinks I am going to turn into a pill popping maniac (he is handling my meds unless I decide to have surgery and then NS would then take those over) if he gives me anything else.
Sorry for the long windedness of my post but wanted to give the background, I am wondering if any of you have had similar symptoms to mine and what did you do? I will greatly appreciate any responses that I get.


  • I forgot to say that on top of the new symptoms, I still have the pains in my ankles that feel like someone is stabbing a knife into them with the pain in my tush from the sciatica.
  • Sorry no one responded to your post.

    My symptoms were somewhat similar to yours. I had spondylolisthesis at L4-5, and central stenosis which pretty much pinched off the L5 nerve root. I have some arthritis and DDD also. I had terrible sciatic pain. I tried to live with it as I was determined that I would not have fusion. I would read these forums and I didn't feel I was as bad as others on the board. I also kept hoping that a new technology would be developed that would make fusion obsolete.

    When it got to the point that I was driving to the mailbox at the end of the drive-way to get my papers and mail, and I could only stand for about a minute at a time, I decided I had to do something. I had a one level PLIF about 16 months ago.

    Then, this past Jan. I had another small surgery to open the foramen at one level below, L5-S1. I healed well from both surgeries, but I am still dealing with sciatic pain. I may have waited too long to have the first surgery, although that is not what my surgeons have suggested.

    I will tell you that fusion is a BIG surgery. Before you make the decision to do it, I would suggest you get several opinions from fellowship-trained spinal specialists, doctors who devote most or all their practice to back and spine issues. These can be orthopedic spinal surgeons or neurosurgeons. Take you time and do your research. Ask lots of questions as to what surgery they are suggesting to you, how they are going to do it, what are the specifics of it...like what type of hardware will they use, will they use a bone graft or BMP, etc.

    Do some reading about lumbar fusion so you will be able to talk to the doctor and understand his answers. You do not want to enter into this blindly.

    I am happy to answer any of your questions. You can PM me or ask them here on the board. It is a big, scary decision. Even my surgery didn't turn out as well as I had hoped, I would still do it again. I haven't given up hope of still improving somewhat.

    You can find good info here: Be sure to click on all the links to the appropriate articles:


    xx Gwennie
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