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Long term sciatica, no visible disc herniation

Hi All,

I'm new to the forums, but have been reading other people's stories in the hope that I'd find someone in a similar situation to me that might help point me in the right direction.

I'm 30 years old, relatively fit and active. I suffered a L5/S1 herniation in July 2009, resulting in severe sciatica, and back pain. After18 months of conservative treatments - 3 x cortisone injections, numerous physiotherapy appointments, accupuncture, chiropractic finally bit the bullet and had a micro-discectomy and rhyzolysis.

Now, almost 4 years later I'm back in the same position. I've had a return of my nerve symptoms - left leg as per my previous issues. Since December 2012 I've had little to no feeling in my left foot, combined with burning sensations in my calf just below my knee, and stabbing pains in my hamstring like someone is trying to cut it open with a hot knife. When I do have feeling in my foot it feels like I'm standing on broken glass and is intense pain.

I've been back to see my neurosurgeon and I'm rapidly running out of patience with finding an answer. I've had 2 MRI's - both show low level disc herniation - although nothing signficant - so much so that the radiographer didn't even comment on it in his notes. A nerve conduction study and EMG that showed chronic denvervation and reinneravation of the L5 nerve root. This lead my neuro to send me for a CT Myelogram last week to try and confirm if there is nerve root compression that isn't being picked up by the MRI.

Now I've got the CT Myelogram results back and the report says that there is no significant nerve root compression that would be causing my symptoms.

My question is - does anyone have any other ideas for why I can't feel my foot and have terrible sciatica if they can't see any nerve root compression on the scans, and does anyone have any treatment options they have tried that work well to overcome this?

I'm due to see the neuro again next week - we're meant to be confirming if he'll proceed with a fusion (the plan of attack if the CT showed obvious compression) so I'm keen to see what others think before proceeding down the road of a second op.

July 2009 - L1, L3, L5 disc hernation
Jan 2011 - L5/S1 Microdiscectomy
Dec 2012 - return of neural symptoms
June 2014 - fusion recommended - awaiting insurance approval


  • are images taken of a moment in time- not to say that they don't help to pinpoint the problems in our spines or bodies, but they can , due to position or some other reason, they can not always show if a nerve is compressed for many reasons. MRI is done lying down and it may be that while you are standing or sitting, the minor compression or bulge is worsened due to the gravity of sitting and standing.
    Wait and see what options the surgeon gives you and if I were you, I would get at least one other consult before going ahead with surgery.
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