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Returning - 7 years post-op with new C5-C6 and L3-L4 protrusions

I wasn't sure where to post this so I decided that I would start with the place where I once spent a lot of time.

I started using the spine-health forum 8 years ago (2006) when I was first diagnosed with C4-C5 protrusion with 50% spinal cord compression. It was a small community back then, on a different platform. ACDF surgery in April 2007. I had a tough recovery, slow, painful, but successful. It wasn't until the 3rd year after surgery that the numbness in my left leg finally disappeared.....that was the last of the pre-op symptoms to go away.

Over the years I would occasionally have roller-coaster days, but ultimately any pains or tingling would disappear within a few hours. I was okay with that...it was my new normal. I committed to an exercise routine with yoga, core and upper body strengthening....hoping that I would never had to do this again. But here I am, with symptoms now that just won't go away.

It started again this past February with right shoulder and upper back pain that wouldn't subside. It dragged on for weeks and even with massage would only temporarily go away. Then my left leg joined the party as I started having numbness in the same place I did many years ago. It only seemed to be triggered by laying down. But it continues to progress. The numbness in my leg occurs more frequently now, sometimes throughout the day, sometimes its more like a pins & needles pain and sometimes my right leg is also tingling. My arms frequently feel like they're burning (I just want to stick them in a bowl of ice). The arm pain goes anywhere from the forearm, to elbows, to upper arms, to shoulders. It comes and goes....but unlike the roller coaster days, it comes more frequently, almost daily now.

So I went back to the doctor, he ordered the MRI and yesterday I got the results. There's a lot in there at so many levels ("joint hypertrophy", "broad based disk bulge"), but these two are the most significant of all the comments:

C5-C6 4 mm right posterolateral disk protrusion impinges upon traversing right C7 nerve root within central canal. Acquired right neural foramen narrowing

L3-L4 small left posterolateral broad-based disk bulge with 3mm left paracentral protrusion. Ligamentum flavum hypertrophy. Impingement of traversing left L4 nerve root within central canal.

I know this isn't near as bad as the C4-C5 protrusion I had, but that one didn't start out this bad either. It progressed very quickly, within months, from thumb pain, to shoulders, to unbearable neck pain to leg numbness. So I have two fears, first that these new symptoms will quickly progress like it did before and second, trying to understand why my disks are failing me. I don't even know what to do about the L3-L4 protrustion....lumber problems are totally new to me. In fact, I don't even have back pain, just leg numbness and tingling (every day now).

Anyway, I'm back and I just don't even know where to begin. I think I'm still blown away by these test results. I'm now waiting for an appointment with the neurosurgery clinic that took care of me previously.

Thanks for the open forum "venting" that I really needed to do!



  • Sounds like a lot going on. I don't have any insight but I hope you get some relief soon. I have C5 and C6 herniation with compression on my spinal cord and nerve roots. I have similar pain as you do. Good Luck
    Tracie C
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