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I need any advice...

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:18 AM in Spinal Injections
I have put the results of my MRI'S in different places but they were not in a place where I could get input for sure...it was on my new member post but not the subject matter further down and then in Millie's post again not the subject matter... asking her if she knew so I hope I won't get in trouble for this but I am having an epidural tomorrow morning and this is my MRI results. Can anyone tell me if this epidural will help me at all before I get my hopes up?...Because I think it's a waste of time and money to tell the truth, but I want to be out of at least some of this pain and problems I am having.

Thank you so much and I am sorry if this is wrong!!!

Back pain, radiculpathy, disc herniations, spondylarthrosis, spondylolisthesis.

The first two lumbar discs are normal.

The L3-L4 desiccated with severe disc bulging and significant canal stenosis.

At L4-L5 there is spondylolisthesis, facet arthropathy and a right central subarticular disc herniation protrusion producing canal stenosis, right lateral recess and neural foraminal stenosis.

At L5-S1 there is a large central disc protrusion with significant deformity of the nerve roots.

The conus is normal and ends at T12-L1 level.



2. L5-S1 large disc protrusion

3. L3-L4 disc bulging with canal stenosis



  • Laurie,
    Hun, it sounds like you have some back issues that should be taken care of with more than an epidural, but I am not a medical professional, just a professional patient, so I really should not read into your MRI. For what I know is sounds like a fusion will help, but what do I know? I hope that this will be better than nothing...... send me a PM if you want and I explain to you some things, I know that they do not want members here giving medical advice and I understand why... Hugs and good thoughts to you! ;)
  • Thanks so much Millie for responding again!!! You always do!!! I sent you a PM. I just want opinions, but honestly I feel my doctors are failing me and I am scared to death I will end up paralized.

    Thank you again!!!

  • I agree with millie,i was a little worried when i read the word Severe ddd,a moderater has seveve ddd,his name is bruce....
  • Thank you... I really have a bad feeling. The pain is intense. I have had other issues going on. I am really afraid I will become paralized. It is so frustrating. My doctors agree my situation is very bad, but I know in my heart I need surgery and I don't know how to go about getting it.

    Thank you so much. I am a nervous wreck and amost am afraid to even move for fear something terrible will happen to me and I hate this paranoia!!!
  • Hi,
    Drs are always going to try alternative treatments before doing surgery. I agree in with what millie said, but as you know we are only professional patients ;)
    I of course tried the epidural for the spondylolthesis at S/1 and slight herniation at L/5. Well needless to say it did nothing. The surgery well it did help with the lower back pressure and pain. As nothing to my knowledge is going to cure spondylolthesis as your vertabra is slipping off where its supposed to be. (easiest way to say it in english terms).
    Its possible it will help you. It has helped alot of ppl.
    Ya never know till its done. So in the end its your decision whether to have the epidural or not. Keep up to date with your drs, and let them know what you want.

    Good luck!!!
    Terri :) :)
  • ...are always tried first...in case they work ;) , but also because usually this is an insurance company requirement. Why paint the whole car when you can touch up a tiny, little scratch on the right rear quarter panel? :) But we're not cars, we're people, and people-in-pain! It would be nice if we could just 'cut to the chase' instead of waste time and money. All of us feel your pain, Laurie so we're glad you're here posting!

    Let us know how your progress is!

  • Terri, Thanks so much for your reply. I appreciate your help. Actually I had the epidural today and it turned in to a big mess...long story, any way, I am sure I will need surgery and my doctor has pretty much told me just waht you did, so you are a pretty smart cookie!!! :) He did say my case is pretty severe and that some things may never be able to be fixed but I will probably be needing surgery soon. I have also been experiencing some other personal issues which may be leading to a much more serious situation so I just hope I don't end up with emergency surgery due to Insurance problems, but what am I going to do...

    Thanks again very much, I really appreciate any input I can get at all!!!

  • Jennifer, {my daughter's name} :)

    I am so happy you replied. I think what you said is so true and it is frustrating as hell. I am in so much pain and I have some other issues going on and I guess they are waiting til I end up in ER with emergency surgery and when I had went to my doctor with the findings of my MRI, supposedly I was suppose to have this epidural a lot sooner, because he has said that this needs to be done before the next step, which I am assuming is the surgery, when I went to see him 4 weeks after the fact. He got so angry that someone had messed up and that I had not had the epidural yet, so I think I am being screwed around and in the meantime I am losing more feeling and I am getting angry. Anwyay after all that I cannot tell you how much it means to have people like you and the other's help me and educate me and be my friend.

    We all need a friend!!!!


  • Laurie

    I think that all doctors try to start off conservative before resulting to surgery. It is hard when you are in so much pain to try to wait out alternative treatments. Maybe talk to your doctor and map out a plan. How many epidurals before moving on to something else? At what point will he be willing to consider surgery? What is his plan to try to keep your pain under control until you are having surgery?

    I know that many insurance companies require that you try other therapy before they will authorize surgery. I know that is is hard but maybe having a plan would make you feel better as there may be a end in sight.

    Take care, keep us posted.
  • Thank you so very much for your concern and info. I agree that I think my doctor is going through all the steps for the insurance company. I am just so scared that something bad will happen in the meantime...but oh well. He was so angry that I had the epidural 4 weeks after he had seen me and he said someone made a big mistake because he had oredered it much sooner so I hope this time lapse will not affect me.

    Thank s again so much for caring!!!

    I love this place and it helps tremendously to have just wonderful support!!!

  • Laurie,
    Good luck with your surgery if it comes to that. You and I share many similar problems. My MRI reports sound very much like yours from before my first surgery.
    I didn't get any relief from injections, but then again, my surgeon did send me to the PM for a consult for them but he said that there was nothing he could do for me until I had surgery, so it was right back to the surgeons that I went.
    Take it easy, until your surgeon gets things approved.
    Best wishes to you,
  • I thank you so much for reading this and responding to my post. Could you please tell me more pre-op and post-op info. I really think my doctors are dragging this out for finacial reasons and I am so afraid something terrible is going to happen. I have some early signs of some bad things and I don't want to end up paralized and lose control of the bladder and bowel. I had the one epidural on Saturday and the pain is still just as bad as before and I am taking oxcodone, hydrocodone, soma and loads of arthritis crap including humira... the drugs alone are probably going to kill me.

    Thank so much and please give me any info you can!!! I would appreciate it so much!!

  • Hi Laurie,
    I had a PLIF/TLIF fusion at L4-5 for spondololysthesis, central canal and foraminal stenosis, osteophytes etc. I also had central canal stenosis at L3-4 and L5-S1, along with disc herniations at the same levels. The one at L5-S1 was a central herniation.
    I know what your fears are, Cauda Equina Syndrome? I developed it post op, and you have good reason to be fearful, if you are having trouble with either your bladder or bowels, or spreading numbness or pain.
    My surgery was done on an emergent basis ( I have read about others who have waited weeks or months for surgery) mine was scheduled 10 days away, and that was only because he wanted me to donate my own blood, and that was the earliest that he could get the two pints that we needed for surgery collected.
    My surgery was done through the back, adding four screws and two rods, a cage and my own bone graft from my hip. Surgery was almost 7 hours long, longer than he told us it would be, but he said at the time it was because my back was in far worse shape than the MRI's , CT scans and myelograms revealed.
    Pre op- I was having trouble standing, sitting or walking at all. I had no bladder or bowel problems though. I had a lot of lower back pain, with popping and clicking sounds if I moved. I had numbness on the left calf, but shooting pain down both legs below the knees all the way to my feet.
    I also had a partial foot drop of the left foot. I couldn't pull my foot up to take a step and would trip over my foot alot.
    Post op, I expected to be in a lot of pain, but not as much as I was. I was really surprised at how intense it was. I had numbness going down both legs, my legs felt really heavy but I didn't seem to have a lot of power to them, if you know what I mean. I had numb buttocks and genital areas, I had new numbness down my left leg and also my right, which until the surgery was not effected, other than for some shooting pain down my legs.
    They had to back board me to move me from the gurney I was on in PACU to my bed and I thought that I would die.
    I was discharged not quite 36 hours post op and I never should have been. In fact, no one asked me about being able to pee on my own, or have a bowel movement, no one asked me about new numbness or different pain levels. The only thing my surgeon asked me was "how did I feel" and I told him that I felt like I had been hit by two mack trucks, and I didn't know what was wrong. He discharged me, without having any one check to make sure that I was in any condition to be discharged. My nurse was so upset, she was screaming at the resident, because I almost passed out in the hallway waiting for the papers to go home. She put in my records that I was in no condition to be discharged.
    Anyway, please don't give my story too much weight, because mine should not have happened the way it did......for a lot of reasons.
    I developed post op CES, and while I saw my physiatrist in the surgeon's office three times over the course of the next week, no one picked up on it, even when I told them that I couldn't control my bladder or bowels or feel going to the bathroom, or that my legs were so numb that I wasn't sure they were there, or that I couldn't feel the toilet paper, or my buttocks......or that the pain levels were astronomical. All of those things should have told them that it was CES and that I needed to go back to the hospital, for another surgery right away.
    Recovery is hard, I won't lie to you, for a fusion. You can literally plan on at least a year before you start feeling like you have some control over your pain levels and are functioning as well as you can be. It's painful, and difficult. The first three months are the worst of it, because of the new alignment of your spine, your body has to readjust to it, and there is the pain from the incisions, and your new walking stance to work through. It does get better around month 4, but there are times that it is one step forward and two steps backward. Physical therapy starts off with balance excercises, and stabilizing and strengthening the core muscles in your stomach area, which in turn help to stabilize and protect your spine.
    It's rough going, but remember that most surgeries do not turn out like mine did.
    If you start to loose bladder or bowel function or ability to control them, increasing numbness, saddle or genital numbness, please call your doctor. It is an emergency and it does need to be addressed as soon as possible....preferably within 24-48 hours. Don't hesitate.
    You and anyone else who has questions can feel free to PM me anytime, if you want to ask something that you don't want to put publicly. I know that the bladder and bowel thing can be highly personal.
    If I can answer anything, I do check in , at least once a day and I do get notifications of PM's.
  • I am sending this twice to make sure you read it. I cannot begin to thank you for this info and tell you again how sorry I am!!
    Oh my goodness!!! You poor thing. I am truly so very sorry for your terrible ordeal and I wish you had never had to go through it. I cannot even imagine the horror. I am so scared and now I have a new problem to add to my existing ones. I just found out through my latest labs that my inflamation is so high but now I have kidney damage due to my medication celebrex. I feel beaten by life but after reading your story I am in total shock and disbelief. I can not tell you how sorry I am that you went through such a nightmare. I also want to thank you so much for all the information and taking the time to tell me. You are one strong lady and I pray that you never in your life have to experience anything else so terrible.

    Take care of yourself and a million thanks. I am so sorry!!!!!
  • Hang in there Laurie. I know that you have a lot on your plate, but if you take things one at a time and get through that one, you can start working on the next one.
    I am guessing that you stopped the Celebrex? Your next step would be to make an appointment with a nephrologist ( kidney specialist)and get evaluated.
    See what they tell you. :)
    As far as the spinal issues go, watch them carefully and be aware that your back problems can create problems elsewhere, including your kidneys too. :(
    All you can do is handle one problem at a time, so do that, and hopefully everything will turn out okay. :)
    Thank you for your PM today. That was so sweet of you. :)
    I didn't tell you my story for any sympathy, I told you and others so that you can watch out for any red flags in your back problems and so that you can take action if you need to. :(
    Don't let a doctor dismiss your concerns if you do have any of those red flags. :O
    Anyway, I will be watching and around if you need a shoulder.....
    Take care,
  • What a trooper you are!!! All that you have been through and you take the time to care about me and to worry about my future and you don't even know me. If nothing else, this place has given me my faith back. You are so kind to help me, educate me and to sincerely care. I could never repay you for all that, but I thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!

  • I know you are frightened right now, but realize that "The conus is normal and ends at T12-L1 level" means that your spinal cord ends above where your problems begin. Paralysis should not be a big concern, but nerve damage yes. If you feel that your MD is having to drag out this process in order to get approval, why not ask him a "what if" question about under what circumstances would the surgery be done under an emergency basis (look at your insurance benefits also). Just a thought.Also, are you stable enough for surgery?
    Having L4-L5-S1 fused, I can tell you that it was shocking to wake from major surgery and say that I didn't hurt as much! I feel blessed having that fusion and 15 years and 7 children later I am finally having some issues. Can't complain. I wish you the best.
  • You know what I am really glad you explained that to me! I really feel dumb! I don't understand the MRI results but some of you have explained it to me and now I am starting to understand it more. So basically are you saying I don't have to be worried about any paralysis? Because if this is the case...you have just relieved a lot of my fears. If I have nerve damage...which I am pretty sure I do to some point...I wonder how bad it can get. I am more than ready for surgery and I am very shy and soft spoken and I have learned from this and the kidney damage situation that I will now speak up and demand things. If you ever get a chance can you please explain the fusing surgery. I have a type of arthritis where my spine is fusing, so I am very confused as to why they surgically do it. I really feel very stupid and I wish I knew more about all this or that I wasn't shy and would ask the doctors more questions.

    Anyway Sandi has really been kind and explained a lot to me. I still don't understand the fusing thing but I tell you if it stops this horrible painI will do it in a heartbeat!!!

    Thank you momof7!!!

  • what do you mean am I stable enough for surgery :? ??
  • As far as stability, it was with your kidneys. They will want to make sure you are in fairly good shape before. Last thing they want is you to go into kidney failure, they will be careful about what medications they give you and will monitor your input/output (what you drink/eat/iv fluids and what you urinate out and will be on the lookout for any fluid retention). I don't know what area of you kidney is damaged (got an attorney?), but bring up ahead of time what tests they plan on running and what time they will be done (daily, twice daily, etc), write this stuff down and before surgery make sure your husband has a copy of this information...the order in his hand. That way they don't have to track the doc down. Not trying to scare you, but in a perfect world every patient would get the right tests at the right time, the right meds at the right time and medical errors would not happen. Do you have a kidney doc (nephrologist)?
    As far as the fusion, the disc (imagine a gel filled disc)usually acts as a shock absorber between your vertebrae (bones). The disc also gives the height and is a spacer. When this disc begins to push (herniate) or open up (rupture) into the spinal area it not only irritates the nerves, but puts pressure (these nerves run downward and thus the leg pain). But, you can only press on those nerves for so long before the damage will be permanent. If the disc is removed in time, the numbness and other issues can resolve to varying degrees. With a fusion they take out the disc and put something else in its place, either an artificial disc or bone material. The healing process is all about the bone fusing together to form one solid piece and will take some time. But, most people will notice immediate relief from many of their symptoms after surgery when the pressure is off the nerves. So, the fusion not only solves your disc problem it also will prevent the vertebrae from moving around. Plus, the stenosis (basically an opening or canal is smaller than it should be)will be taken care of. I hope that helps!
    I am sure everyone will tell you this, but take a list of your questions in writing to your appointment and have someone else with you as a second set of ears (if a doc acts really annoyed that you are asking questions and have concerns, but he just wants to cut on you... get another doctor). If you ask questions and say that you just want to understand what is going on a little better it takes them off the defense, again run if they don't answer your questions. If you know which hospital you are going to, take a walk up to the ortho floor or medical/surgical floor and tell the nurses you are needing to have surgery and were wondering their opinions on good docs (they see how pts recover and also how docs are after the surgery towards their patients). If you do seek a second/third opinion, I would not necessarily tell them that you have talked to another doctor (your primary care doctor is enough and if you need a referral he can give it). If he does ask, say yes I have consulted another physician but have heard such excellent things about you I wanted to come see you (yes, egos are big and the last thing he wants to know is that he is your second opinion and that your first opinion is either is best friend or arch rival). My point to all of this is that I have see enough of docs looking over another docs notes..before he even sets eyes on the patient, and forming an opinion. This doc may be concerned that he is taking you away from Dr. A and does not want all fallout from that. It is a business, but you should be getting the best and they should be willing to answer your questions and return calls promptly and show up at the hospital at 2am, on a weekend if needed! You deserve nothing else and know that when you are at an appointment. YOU are paying his morgage and YOU could be referring patients to him in the future. Guarantee a doc does a great job, your primary car doc will remember it and possibly use him/her in the future.
    This is your body, your future, you deserve the best care possible!
  • Hi, Laurie~
    I've been reading thru this thread and I can see how scared you are about all this. It does seem (& I'm NOT a Dr.!) like your MRI has revealed a bunch of different issues at different levels of your spine. I just wanted to let you know that in my situation, (I had PLIF/360 L4-5 w/bone graft from my hip one week ago) I went to a local large university hospital's Spine Center, where there were a team of doctors/surgeons/therapists all working together to diagnose and heal ONLY spine problems. I had heard about a wonderful spine surgeon there, and when I went to see him, he showed and explained my MRI's and new x-rays he took right there, and then he booked me for a ESI (w/x-ray floroscopy (sp?)guidance)
    to see if that could resolve some/any of the pain. I too was a little "taken aback" until he did explain that this is the protocol for surgery (and for the almighty INSUR. co!), that we needed to try conservative measures first.

    My ESI was painful, but I knew they got it in the right spot cause I could feel the pressure going down that nerve in my leg. It was pretty sore for the next day or 2, THEN, I had about 2 days where my hip pain was GONE! I was so excited thinking I may not need surgery, and I was gonna go get the next ESI in 2 wks, to see if it could maybe clear up the pain in the rest of my leg, down to my toes. BUT, in 3 days, all the hip pain was back, and I called the surgeon's ofc and spoke to his asst, who told me that this was actually a GOOD sign that surgery WOULD help. (the fact that there was pain relief, even briefly, as a result of the ESI, let them know that they were "on the right track" w/their diagnosis).
    So please don't feel that they are trying to put you thru hell just for their fun or profit. There IS a method to their madness!! (besides the insur. co rules!)
    The one most important piece of advice I could ever give you is this: make SURE your surgeon only works on SPINES, not ankles, toes, knees, etc. I know that sounds weird, but your spine issues sound pretty complex, and which surgeon you choose makes SUCH a huge difference in the outcome!! Research it on the web, talk to local hospitals to see if they have any kind of spine center, and generally do your HOMEWORK before picking a surgeon. You want someone who REALLY knows their craft and has done 100's of operations on spines especially, and who is familiar with all the latest medical research data and spinal surgical techniques.

    I will be following your progress. My heart goes out to you, and I can "feel" your fear, but a little "homework" on your part now will make a HUGE difference in your outcome. It will also give you courage and the ability to be assertive with your questions to the docs! Do not be intimidated!
    Knowledge is POWER!! Good luck and God bless.
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