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#4 Herniated Lumbar Disc. Are My Symptoms Common?

I have had an MRI and a herniated lumbar disc was found. A neurosurgeon was consulted and said "Surgery Would Help".

Fine and dandy, but now because of extremely limited income (social security) I find myself living a thousand miles south of the US border. There are no MRI machines within a 500 mile radius.

I am having problems with the herniation. When I eat a complete meal I suffer crippling back pain almost a day after eating the meal (I have fasted to make sure I was not being fooled by something else)

It is NOT stomach or intestinal pain. Period. Something in my gut is pressing on that herniated bulge and the pain is indescribable. I have to eat a ton of prunes or take a moderate laxative to get relief. With a really bad episode I can barely walk, and after the laxative does its work 24 - 36 hours later the pain has subsided. This is not my imagination. Also, my bladder seems to be greatly affected when the food irritates the herniation. Leakage and difficult to urinate.

I am going to have to do handstands in order to get closer to the border. So if these symptoms are "common" then I will ponder their significance less. The 2nd and worst herniation occurred 18 months ago. I was on a walker for seven months and had to use a Canadian Crutch constantly for another four months. I still need to use a crutch to ascend and descend stairs. "Pain" is constant which I can handle with Tramadol, an NSAID, and Tylenol. But when the intestinal bulge touches the herniation, WOW! The urination thing seems to be worsening.

I would take great comfort from folks who have similar symptoms and have been reassured by their doctor that the symptoms are not worrysome. Again, i am a long long way from competent medical services. Thank You! You can email me a mexbungalows@gmail.com if you wish.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • If you read my history you'll see I've had many lumbar herniations. You could say "I've been around the block". I am not a doctor, but based on your bowel and bladder symptoms surgery seems appropriate. Usually if you have any of those symptoms doctors want to operate sooner rather than later because not doing so can cause damage to the nerves that control your bowel/bladder function. I don't mean to scare you, but to me it seems surgery is in no way an unrealistic choice for you. Plus it sounds like you are in a lot of pain that affects your ability to function normally. You didn't state whether your surgeon knows about the bowel/bladder issue- if not I'd let him know immediately. It sounds like you're in a bit of a pickle in terms of finances and location, but I would urge you to be seen my your surgeon ASAP. Good luck to you. Keep us posted.
    25 years old: Herniated L4-L5, L5-S1 December 2008. L4-L5 microdiscectomy Sept 2010. L5-S1 microdiscectomy March 2012. Redo L4-L5 microdiscectomy Sept 2013. Redo microdiscectomy Oct 2015.
  • SqwurlySSqwurly Posts: 8
    edited 10/27/2013 - 6:10 AM
    Hi, my herniation was L4/L5 and I had surgery 4 days ago. Before the microdiscectomy I did have worse pain shooting down my leg from the impinged nerve when my bowel was full. I suffer from chronic constipation anyway, and the new pain meds I was given made that worse. I didn't have your other symptoms, though. I have heard of others with those symptoms and as I understand it, those should be reported to your doctor immediately. I wish you the best outcome and best quality of life. I am happy with my outcome with the surgery and look forward to the best spine health in the future.
  • can be signs of a significant problem called Cauda Equina Syndrome. Do you also have increased pain and numbness in the buttocks or gential area? Interior of the thighs? Worsening pain or numbness?
    Can you empty your bladder or bowels on your own or does it seem to not empty altogether? If you have not discussed those symptoms with a surgeon, then you need to , right away since those symptoms can all indicate a need for surgery emergently rather than later on. Compression of the spinal cord can become permanent damage if left that way too long.
    Bowel issues can also be caused by the medications you are taking so it is difficult to say which is the cause of the issues you are having at this time, but if you are experiencing a change in the way you are able to empty your bladder or bowels or both and the sensation is different than it was , then you really do need to discuss this with your surgeon right away.
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