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Large Intervertebral disc extrusion L5-S1

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:38 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hi All,

I am brand new to this forum and I am hoping someone can help. I just had an MRI and I am wondering if anyone has had a large left paramedian intervertebral disc extrusion at L5-S1 that effaces the thecal sac and the left S1 nerve root as well as the L5 nerve root? I also have intervertebral disc space narrowing at L5-S1 with degenerative endplate changes.

I have no idea what this means, but I have had severe pain down my left leg for the last 25 days!!! They have given me 2 epidurals and I am scheduled for a third on Thursday. So far, no relief!!!

Any suggestions would greatly be appreciated!


  • gwennie17gwennie17 Posts: 2,957
    edited 06/28/2012 - 10:08 AM
    This is a fairly common level to have a disc problem. The first surgeon I consulted with had a bag of oreo cookies. We sat in front, eating the oreos and looking at my MRI scans which were in front of us on the light box. He explained to me how to read my scans. The oreos came in handy as a visual stand-in for the two vertebrae and a lumbar disc. The disc is the "filling" between the lumbar 5 and sacral 1 vertebrae (the cookie)....the disc is the cushion that keeps us from having bone resting on bone. In your case, this filling has sprung a leak and is squishing out the left side, pressing on some of the spinal nerves that adjoin this disc. (L5 and S1).

    Usually a doctor will recommend some conservative treatments before ever thinking about surgery. Sometimes a course of physical therapy to strengthen the muscles or the back and core, in addition to some medication and/or a steroid injection to bring down any inflammation will be tried. If after a period of time these conservative measures fail, the surgeon might recommend a surgical procedure like a discectomy where part of the disc is removed so it is no longer compressing the spinal nerves.

    It is the compression of the nerves that usually is the cause of pain you are feeling in your leg. The spinal nerves refer pain to a specific area of the body...in this case, L5 and S1 refer pain down the back of the leg and into the bottom of the foot and outer toes.

    This website has excellent, physician-written articles that will help you to understand some of the words in your MRI and your situation in general. Here are a couple to get you started, if interested.





    If you do not get some relief in a month or two, you might want to make an appointment with a fellowship-trained spinal specialist. This can be either a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic spinal surgey who devotes his/her practice to issues of the neck and spine.

    Good luck.

  • As always Gwennie has excellent suggestions. Funny the analogies drs use: My surgeon said a disk is like a jam donut. The dough part is the hard outer bit and the jam bit is the inner part. When you have a bulge or extrusion, there is a hole in the dough part allowing the jammy part to escape and that jammy part is what presses on the nerve giving leg pains and numbness.

    I do hope that the injection offers you some relief from your leg pains.
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