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EMG says nerve damage

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671

I was diagnosed with a herniated disc L5-S1.
I started getting pain in my left buttock.. kind of like a charlie horse. Was having lots of pain in my lower back when walking or standing for a short period of time.

The pain spread to the back of my thigh and outer thigh.. back of my knee.. back of and side calf, ankle and foot. I get lots of twitches and muscle spasms in my leg. When I walk.. my foot feels crampy. I have a very hard time describing this.. all I know is it feels like someone kicked me in the butt and back of my knee really hard.

So the EMG says nerve damage and now I have to see a neurosurgeon. Is this because I have sciatica? I don't have severe symptoms all the time.. and I don't have all the symptoms. Starting to get stabbing, shooting pains.. but constant deep throbbing ache from my butt to my foot is my biggest complaint along with stabbing pain in my left lower back.

I can't walk or stand to do simple things... I find myself rushing just to get through my dishes so I can sit back down. Even when I do nothing.. the pain can get so intense all I can do is cry and I can't sleep.

I don't know what to expect, all I know is it's getting worse and I'm scared.

Any advice? Can anyone help me make sense of all of this?



  • you have sciatica. the nerves of the spine are being pressured. are you seeing either an ortho or neuro surgeon who specializes on the spine? he/she will advise you of a good treatment plan. keep us posted as to what he says. conservative treatment like physical therapy may be recommended first. it will depend on how serious your condition is. there are plenty of us here who experience this nagging pain. you are among friends so please keep in touch.

  • When a disc herniates, it often bulges out into the foraminal opening or the central spinal column and presses on the spinal nerve root. This causes nerve compression which results in the pain we commonly refer to us sciatica. Sometimes the sciatic nerve itself is compressed or injured, but with a ruptured disc it is usually the spinal nerve compression that refers pain down into the outer extremities. Each spinal nerve energizes a specific part of the arm or leg in a predictable pattern -- if you search for a dermatome map or chart you can see where the path is for the L5 and S1 nerves.

    If the herniation is not too great, it is possible for it to heal on its own. This will require some care or effort on your part. Physical therapy will help you learn strengthening exercises to make the surrounding soft tissue stronger to help support the spine. Injections are given to reduce inflammation and hopefully take the pressure off the nerve which will take away your leg pain...hopefully!!

    Healing a disc is a long, relatively slow process. It can take six months but the sciatic pain usually lessens before healing is complete.

    The other route is to have a microdiscectomy which accomplishes the same thing -- taking the pressure off the spinal nerve, and opening up space to make room for it.

    There are excellent articles about all these conditions and surgeries on this website:



    Learn as much as you can about your condition so you will be able to talk with your doctor and can become an active partner in your treatment decisions.

    Good luck.

  • Hi Joan,

    Thank you for responding..

    I have an appointment with a neurosurgeon on Feb 25th.
    I have tried PT and it didn't really do anything for my lower back. I also have problems with my neck and it only made those symptoms worse.

    All I can do right now is wait...

  • Hi Gwennie,

    Thank you for the welcome and information I appreciate it.

    I really don't think this is going to get better on it's on because it's been something that nagged me for years. I got an MRI in April 09 because of shocking pains going through my body to my legs when I was shopping. Since April the symptoms have only gotten worse, and at this point I can't stand for more than a few minutes without severe pain.

    I am hoping that I can get some kind of injections and feel better.. just waiting, and waiting is taking it's toll on me. Just hoping I don't go insane by then...

  • they tell you if it said acute or chronic damage? Acute means recent, chronic means "longer than 3 months". Your story is similar to mine, only I didn't get an EMG until after 3 surgeries that did not help the nerve pain. (My back was finally stabilized in the 3rd surgery, but the nerve pain I have had from the beginning.) I've been told that by the time I sought help and had my first surgery (was only 5 months), it was too late. In my case, my nerves damaged quickly and permanently.

    Since I am not a surgical candidate, with nothing actively impinged, but 24/7 burning pain, I was a candidate for the SCS - spinal cord stimulator. It has changed my life.

    I wish you luck at the appointment in February. I'm sorry you are suffering this pain. By the time I got my SCS, I was fully reclined 23 hours a day, as ANY movement flared the nerve and it would take days to weeks to recover.

    Take care,

  • You might call the neurosurgeon's office and ask if they have a cancellation list, and if you could put your name on it. You might mention that your pain is getting worse and you'd really like to be seen sooner than 25 Feb. Never hurts to try!
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