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possible herniated disc with leg pain

lstevensonllstevenson Posts: 4
Hi all, I'm new here. I had a bad fall of a horse about 2 months ago, broke a couple of ribs and messed up my back. I have been having burning pain down the front of my right thigh. The ER doc said that I most likely have a herniated disc which is impinging on a nerve. He only did x-rays, and would not do an MRI at the ER because he said they can only do MRIs in the ER if they think you are in enough danger to need emergency surgery. He gave me a referal to an orthapedic surgeon. But he told me that they will usually heal on their own in time, and gave me some vicodin.

Well, I can't afford to go to the surgeon and get the MRI (I have health insurance, but I pay 30% plus copay), so I haven't gone. It has been getting better slowly, but I am wondering if this new change is normal? The burning pain in my thigh when I stand up is getting milder and milder (and I have to stand for longer and longer periods to bring it on), but I am now getting "electric shock" like pain intermittantly in my thigh.

Is that a positive or negative sign?

Thanks so much for your input, glad to have found this forum!


  • Ive had one disc herniated disc three different times and every time it came with major leg pain. Sorry to here about your pain.
  • Hiya >:D< . Welcome to Spine Health, Have a wonder about this site, there is all kinds of information to help you O:) ! Based on my personal experience, you really could do with getting checked out with an orthopedic surgeon :S . In the mean time rest can help take down any inflamatry :D . Where is the pain in your thigh?? :? You are describing sciatic pain :? , but you need an MRI to have a look at whats happening :S . Any advice i give you is based on my own experiences as i am not medically trained in this field :| . Please keep intouch and let me know how you get on >:D< .

    Angie xx :H
  • Thanks for the warm welcome. The pain is down the very front of my thigh. I thought sciatic was down the back?
  • Hiya >:D< does the pain run down your calf? :?

    Angie x :H
  • No it's just the front of my thigh, and stops at the knee.
  • lstevenson said:
    No it's just the front of my thigh, and stops at the knee.
    Howdy 1Stevenson, and a hearty welcome to Spine Health! Sorry I missed your post earlier. I understand you can't get to a spine specialist or get an MRI at this time?

    I have protrusions at my L2/3/4 levels, though affecting the L2 & 3 nerve roots. Due to that, I have of course pain in my back, it then radiates to my outer side of my hips, wraps around the front of my thighs, and most times stops at the knee. Sound familiar? As it is progressing, I now have weakness in the front of my thighs, and sometimes the top (inner) side of the calf - all staying in line with the nerves known to be affected on me.

    Obviously, I'm not a professional, but speaking from what I have going on, and given what you've posted, I thought I would chime in. If you do a search for "Dermatome map" in the search box above, you will find in the FAQ section a very good one. What it does is shows you the basic skin areas the nerves affect. This might be of help to you. I hope you are able to get with a spine specialist (Neurologist or Orthopedist trained in the spine) and further testing to see what is going on. Please keep us posted. Again, welcome to the site!! Gentle *HUG*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • From my own experience, I fell from a horse and the x-ray showed a moderate compression fracture. I also was told it would "heal on its own." A year later the bone was completely collapsed.

    The moral of the story? Follow up on back injuries, I guess. Have you at least had a follow-up x-ray?

    There is a sciatic nerve, but the term sciatica is often used to mean any sort of back problem with radiculopathy causing leg pain. So, it can really be anywhere.

    I don't know what the shocks mean. Honestly, I would talk to a doctor about it.
  • 1Stevenson,

    Thanks to HappyHBmom's post, I reread your initial post. Even with a 30% co-pay, if you can afford it, you might want to get with a Neurologist or Orthopedist and get an MRI done. If anything, to be sure that the disk(s) either are drying and healing, or something else is going on there. Nothing is more important than your health. Just food for thought. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I, too am not a professional, so I can only speak from my experience.

    You really need to get an MRI. The pictures will "probably" remove all doubt as to what is going on and your doctor can go from there. I think my MRI was about $2500.00 Fortunately for me, I have pretty good insurance, so I only paid $100.00.

    But, it does sound like sciatica and yes, from what I've been told sciatic pain can ease off. It depends on how much your disc is herniated. You may have inflamation and some swelling and should at leat be taking an anti- inflammatory, not just pain meds.

    Also, before you jump into surgery, you may want to consider getting an epidural. This is an injection into the spine using a steroid. It may help tremendously for a short time or forever. I forget what mine cost because my insurance paid for them.

    Good luck to you and please keep in touch.
  • As HappyHBmom pointed out, sciatica can refer to any nerve pain radiating down into the legs. I remember seeing on a dermatome map that the L3 nerve serves the front of the thigh. I'm not saying that's where your problem is, just pointing this out because that would still be considered sciatica. Having a look at a good dermatome map has helped me understand a lot of things.

    As for your original question, I first herniated my L4-5 disc 35 years ago (and am told it probably herniated again in more recent years). Both times, the pain resolved and I went on with life. I do remember having various kinds of pains with those herniations so that may be what's happening with you. Because your pain is resolving, I imagine a doctor would just watch and wait to see what happens. These things can take time to resolve, but it's better than needing back surgery!

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • Thanks everyone. It does seem to be slowly getting better, so I think I'm going to wait it out for a while.....
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