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Tired of 'lurking'....Ready to say Hello All! :)

Tam70TTam70 Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:51 AM in New Member Introductions
Hello Everyone,

I found this site while trying to gather as much information as possible on lumbar spine issues and lumbar pain management. I’ve been suffering from excruciating lower back and leg/calf pain since Sept. (6 months). I hope by joining this forum, I’ll meet others and be able to compare experiences and gain some insight from their struggles.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever received an actual ‘diagnosis’ but here’s what my MRI report states:
L3-L4: Mild facet arthropathy
L4-L5: Disc is desiccated with mild broad-based protrusion & an associated posterior midline & left para-central linear annular tear. Mild/moderate facet arthropathy causing mild bilateral foraminal stenosis.
L5-S1: Vertebral bodies have Modic II marrow reactive change. Disc is desiccated and narrowed. Disc has a circumferential annular bulge with associated bony endplate ridging. Overlying broad-based posterior protrusion, but no extrusion or annular tear. Facet arthropathy is moderate and there is mild ligament flavum thickening. Moderately severe right and moderate left foraminal stenosis.

Physical Therapy - 19 weeks (2 - 3 visits per week)
Electrical stim., Ultrasound therapy, traction therapy, massage and minor manipulation and minimal expercises. Just before the end of week 19, therapist sent report to doctor stating PT appears to be aggravating condition and definitely not helping.

Epidural Steroid Injections x 2 - little to no relief

Mobic (took for four weeks - no help, discontinued use), Trazadone, Topiramate, Lexapro, Oxycodone and most recently Neurontin - which I have yet to begin taking.

The DO I’ve been seeing suggests that “time” will heal me, however I truly do not know how much more I can handle by waiting this out. My right leg grows more numb spots as the days pass and the pain has gotten so bad I can’t sit for more than a few minutes at a time. I haven’t driven for weeks, nor have I been able to sleep for more than a short time without being awakened by pain or severe tingling/numbness.

Went back to my PCM to ask him for a referral for a ‘second’ opinion - he agreed and sent me to talk to a surgeon. My PCM recommended this particular surgeon because of her reputation for being very conservative with her surgeries. However, when I saw the surgeon on 03/10/2011, she stated that she feels I need a fusion and referred me to one of her colleagues who is more polished with fusions. My appointment for a consult with that surgeon is not until 3/31/2011.

I guess I’m confused and frustrated because one doctor is telling me to “wait” this out and one doctor is suggesting an extreme surgery and in the meantime, I’m just crippled with pain and not sure what to do at this point? Any ideas or suggestions to help me through this period will be greatly appreciated!

*hugs to all*
L5-S1 Laminectomy/Discectomy - 04/17/2011
L5-S1 PLIF w/Bi-lateral Foraminotomy 04/05/2012


  • Welcome to Spine-Health. You'll find a lot of information throughout this site and the members of the forum are very friendly, knowledgeable and supportive. I'm sure you'll make friends here.

    We're unable and not even allowed to interpret MRIs, but I have a few things that I'd like to tell you.

    I think you probably know in your mind that waiting it out probably isn't the answer. It would be totally different if conservative measures were working, but since they're not and you can't sit or sleep, then you know something must be done and a plan of action has to be put into place. I personally don't believe that stenosis and facet problems heal themselves, but I'm not a doctor - it's just common sense when you understand what stenosis is and what facet problems are.

    You might consider getting one more opinion and seeing what that one says. That might give you more to consider or confirm what one of the previous doctors said.

    As for fusion, although it's a big and serious surgery, I don't consider it an "extreme" surgery because there isn't a whole lot to do between conservative measures and surgery. There's a discectomy that is half way between, but you're having stenosis and facet problems, so a discectomy won't do a darned thing for you there.

    I had a fusion for stenosis, facet problems and spondylolisthesis, but my buldging disc reacted well to injections. I had to have surgery anyway because the conservative measures did nothing for the other problems, like you.

    Surgery is a very personal decision and nobody here will tell you to have it, but we can tell you our experiences with it and share our successes and not so successes (if that makes sense).

    So, I hope I helped in some little way. There's not much we can give you here while considering whether or not to have surgery, just our opinions and experiences, but we'll be here for you.

    Take care and feel free to PM me any time if I can help you in any way.

  • for the reply, Cath! I appreciate everything you've posted and it most definitely was a blessing to read :)

    I hope I haven't given the impression that I'm seeking an interpretation of my MRI report? I think I understand it (I've dissected it word by word...lol), but since I've never been sat down and told "this is what you have" I thought it might be helpful to give that information to the forum :)

    As for surgery - I'm not against having surgery at all. I know that something needs to be done, the sooner the better as far as I'm concerned. I just need to try to educate myself more with fusion surgery while I bide my time over the next three weeks. Reading real stories from other members will be helpful, I'm sure! :)
    L5-S1 Laminectomy/Discectomy - 04/17/2011
    L5-S1 PLIF w/Bi-lateral Foraminotomy 04/05/2012
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