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New, tired of pain & no life, just got MRI & would love some help.

jezziebezziejjezziebezzie Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in New Member Introductions
Hi all. First time posting.

Here's a bit of my history & my MRI details are at the bottom of this post. I'm so glad there's a forum for support. I don't get out much and am kinda stir-crazy!!

I've been off work for over a year. Can't walk more than 100'. Can't stand more than 3 minutes. Can't sit in the same position longer than 20 minutes. Can't sleep longer than 3 hours. Back of my Right leg is numb from my hip to my knee & then the outside half of my right foot is numb. Front of my left leg is numb from hip to knee.

I do accupuncture, swim therapy 2x/wk, physiotherapy weekly. I went to a pain clinic for about 3 months & had increasing strengths of Marcaine injected. There hasn't been any improvement with any of this.

I've tried a million different pills & currently take Oxycontin 2x/day, Gabapentin 2x/day & Oxycodone usually 2x/day for breakthrough pain. I was originally prescribed Cymbalta for the pain relieving properties, but after more than a year of this it's probably a good idea for depression, too. I am significantly overweight & have gained 75lbs in the last year. 60 lbs came on in 4 months while on a course of Prednisone for my back (HATE that stuff). After I came off that, I made changes to my diet & expected a loss, but gained another 15 lbs. Did some research & realized that the Lyrica I was taking can also cause weight gain & swelling, hence the switch to Gabapentin about 2 weeks ago. I'm hoping I can start to lose weight now.

I had a CT scan & waited 7 months for a surgeon to review only to find out the scan was barely readable. Finding an MRI with a wide enough bore to accommodate me was difficult (no open MRIs in Ontario), but I finally had an MRI & got my results yesterday.

Here's what it says -
L1 through L4 - unremarkable.

L4-L5 - there is a small central broad-based disc protrusion associated with a minor radial tear of the annulus fibrosis. No major disc protrusion is seen neural foramina are well maintained.

L5-S1 - there is a larger central and right paracentral disc protrusion associated with an annular tear. The disc fragment encroaches on the lateral recess and the right L5-S1 neural foramen likely compressing the exiting nerve roots.

Impression - Degenerative changes in the lower 2 discs with a right paracentral disc protrusion at L5-S1 as described.

I'm now waiting for another appointment with my surgeon & would appreciate your thoughts. Do you think surgical intevention is likely?

It's not that I want to have surgery, but after trying everything else I want to have my life back. (Did I mention I'm a newlywed?). I want to return to work and having a social life and travel and planning a family with my husband. For the past year, I've been locked in this prison of pain & staring at 4 walls at home.

If for some reason the surgeon says it's not an option, do you have any other suggestions? Obviously I'm continuing my diet plan, but short of waving a magic wand, I just don't know what else to do.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post. I look forward to hearing from some of you.


  • Howdy and Welcome to Spine Health!! On the top of the web page is a search box that might help with research and additional questions. On here you will find that this side of the site is comprised of "members" with all manner of nerve and spine issues. We are great about helping and supporting each other - but none are doctors.

    With all that stated. It sounds like you have a lot of different things going on based on your post - that being of your symptoms. We are strongly discouraged from trying to interpret another's MRI or other scans. For that unfortunately you will have to wait until you see your doctor or surgeon.

    As to surgery and all. There are so many things that go into the decision to have surgery, both medically based on exams, diagnostic testing etc., and your own personal experience in your day to day life and the affects on it. It does sound like you have been very good in trying all kinds of conservative treatment. Please let us know what the surgical consult results are.

    Again, Welcome aboard!!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Welcome to Spine Health. Like you, we are all patients or family and friends of patients. We are here to give and receive support to others. It is an incredible community and I am always amazed at the selfless giving that goes on here every day.

    Congratulations on your recent wedding. That is awesome. I too hope that you are able to get the help that you need so that you are able to embark on your new life with far less pain and numbness.

    Unfortunately none of us are qualified to interpret MRI's and radiology reports. To do so would be potentially dangerous and do a disservice to you. Let your doc do the interpretation because he is going to know about the whole person.

    We can however share our experience, strength and hope with you and do our level best to get you through one day at a time.

    Welcome to Spine Health,

  • Thanks for the welcomes!

    I totally understand that people on the forum can't give medical opinions or anything like that. I guess I was just looking for reassurance from people with similar conditions that there might be light at the end of the tunnel. Just looking to hear some 'been there, done that', I think.

    Sunday will be my 1 year anniversary. Let me tell you who the husband of the year is! (Although I'm sure many here also have love ones in line for an award!) Since we've been married, he's schlepped me around in a wheelchair on our honeymoon cruise, he shops, does laundry, cleans the house & works a bunch of overtime. And HE feels bad if some projects aren't finished. I can't even express to him how amazing he is. I know this isn't exactly what he signed up for.

    I'm glad I found this forum. A friend of mine suggested I seek groups for chronic pain sufferers. This might sound crazy, but I hadn't put myself in that category if that makes sense? I've been waiting for a year to get fixed, so it hadn't quite occurred to me that chronic pain is what I'm dealing with.

  • Sorry to hear of your pain and leg numbness. I wish you the best with your Neurosurgeon appointment so you can get some directions to treatment options. I took Lyrica also and had gained 45lbs but was able to lose it last year. Drink lots of water to stave your hunger. Congrats on your getting married. 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
  • I've seen you've tried a lot of conservative treatments. Have you had any Epidural shots or nerve blocks yet? They didn't help me, but some folks have them and they do wonders. I figure when you meet with your surgeon he will go over everything you've been through to decide a course of action.

    "Light at the end of the tunnel." We all hope for that of course, but none of us can predict that, even for ourselves! I know it's frustrating, but none of us can even guess an outcome. Please let us know what you find out. Pre-Happy Anniversary! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Hi, Jezz, welcome to SH forum! Sorry to hear of the challenges that you are facing right now. I can certainly understand the anxiety and powerless feeling having the spine conditions and the ways it affects your life/our lives!

    You've come to the right place, there are many here that truly understand and have experienced similar concerns and fears, and it means sooo much, yes to have that not only validated but totally understood!

    I am single-divorced after many years of marriage, and I know how important it can be to have a spouse that can understand the difficulties and to be so supportive...sooo glad you have that!

    The dilemma of having pain + conditions that are not easy fixes, as other surgeries can be (extremities, knees, hips, hands) can be perplexing and very frustrating (tempered words!!) when it comes to the spine.

    It's good to hear you have been trying methods to help with the pain and movement, sorry to hear that they are not bringing you relief.

    The water, aqua therapy was awesome for me in every phase of chronic pre and post-surgeries!

    I have always had issues with food/nurture and gaining weight, especially when I have stressed and having chronic pain. Something that really works for me is to not allow the fast food snacks and meals and have alternatives easy (apple/cottage cheese, pita with turkey, crunchy carrots/celery) and ready to go for in frig. I have yo-yo'd with bad carbo's and it messing up my weight and ohhh I just want to have that quick-fix with what I think at the time will please me more = more weight/problems with craving roller-coaster!

    Hoping your are able to get some clarity and answers covered with your MRI and a plan of treatment that may not require surgery.

    I hear you on that one, after 20 years of some major twist n turns, and best laid plans...well the spine journey is a challenge....but there have been periods and spaces of good fulfilling experiences in spite of what my condition and issues challenging me!

    Hope it's not long in getting to see the surgeon for the MRI review and wishing you well with finding a total picture and understanding of what is going on and what would be the best next step.


    Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post. I look forward to hearing from some of you.
  • Welcome, this is a great place for support.

    Sound like you have have had epidural injections. While we can't tell you about your MRI we can tell you about our experiences. With herniations there are lots of options. I did Physical therapy, chiropractic, epidural shots, meds, a laminectomy and discectomy. A good surgeon will have you do a bunch of conservative stuff first. Good luck!

  • Hey there, sorry you are in such pain.
    I know all too well the "numbness".
    That's me but on the left leg/foot.

    I am lousy at the MRI results thing. I find the images and reports interesting but it's definitely tough to try to understand what they mean. I've heard that the doctors combine the tests with the patients 'story'.

    That being said, I had an instant (acute?) herniation of my L5/S1. I was in excruciating pain and could not get out of bed (despite trying for 10 hours and almost passing out each of the 3 attempts). Long story short, every where I hurt, went numb and I lost a lot of strength. I did have a microdiscectomy which is where they go in through a small incision to remove the disc that came out of the spine and was compressing my nerve.

    That being said, I'm in less pain but still have no feeling back. The good news is that I'm able to sleep most nights, able to sit for about 30 mins (probably longer but not good for me), and I can walk 1-3 miles a day.

    I hope you are one step closer to less pain! We are all here for you and understand what you are going through to some extent.
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