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Microdiscectomy a year ago and low back pain and toe numbness 10 months later

Lenora2014LLenora2014 Posts: 1
edited 11/24/2014 - 2:25 PM in Lower Back Pain
I had a microdiscetomy a year a go and then 10 months later the low back pain started up again. I do not have the leg pain anymore, but have toe numbness in both feet. I think perhaps that they did not take enough of the disc material out in the first surgery and I may need a second one. I've had a 2nd MRI and my pain management doc thinks it's my SI joint so after injections(did not help) then tried a nerve block test and it did not help. I talked to my surgeon and because the one doc was treating SI joint he said he could not do surgery because if it's the SI joint the surgery would complicate the L4-L5 and vice versus. I don't know if I should find another doctor or what.
After the nerve block test a couple of weeks ago, she thinks it's just disc degeneration. I don't think that is the case and I would not be in this much pain and would not have numbness in my toes. I am only 47 years old, a little over-weight. She then also referred me to a shrink because I was crying in her office. I was crying because I had just lost my job the week before the nerve block test and had to put out $364.00 that I did not have and it did not resolve anything (my insurance also ends at the end of November, I have paid all deductibles and out of pocket for the year with no resolution). She also has me on 1200mg of gabapentin a day which does nothing for my pain. She also has me on hydroco/apap .5-325mg three times a day, which does not help either.
I'm at my wits end and not sure what my next steps should be. Any advise would be helpful.
Thank you, Lenora


It would be very helpful if you could provide us with more details. Here are some questions that you
should answer:

  • - When did this first start?
    - Was it the result of an accident or trauma?
    - What doctors have you seen?
    - What Conservative treatments have you had? Which ones?
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    - What medications are you currently using?
    - Has surgery been discussed as an option?
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--- Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Moderator : 11/24/11 20:25

Lenora Yanez


  • Hi Lenora. Insurance really over complicates things doesn't it? I'm so sorry. When my husband lost his job a couple of months ago we managed to pay for Cobra. It's expensive but I'd hit all of my deductibles for the year. If you know you're going to be having surgery or expensive procedures it could be worth looking into. I lived most of my life in England with the National Health Service & I'm still pretty ignorant about the system here. There's a forum, select "Mind/Body/Spirit" & you'll find it. It covers the subjects related to benefits & insurance. I hope there's something there that can help you with that.

    I have lots of different things wrong with my spine including a very messed-up SI joint. Did you have the injections done properly with X-ray guidance? With me they started by injecting a numbing agent & asking me to describe how my pain changed. I could immediately feel a pain by my spine & into my hip & thigh vanish. It's my understanding that the pain generated by the SI joint should be temporarily 'switched off' by the first numbing shot. If you didn't feel any change in your pain at all why do they still think the SI is a pain generator? If your diagnostic numbing shot was negative I thought that meant pain isn't coming for there...that's a BIG question to ask your doc!! Did your 2nd MRI cover your SI joint? Mine usually don't they just do my lumbar. The specialist I saw said a scan of the SI is the best.
    After the diagnostic shot they put some steroids in. Over the next couple of weeks it helped a very little bit but I never got the relief that the numbing agent gave.

    If all the tests are saying your SI joint isn't causing pain I think they should be concentrating on the pain your spine is generating. I don't understand why suspected SI joint problems means they can't treat your disc. Many spineys have multiple issues. I chip away at my different pain generators. I think you need a good conversation with your docs. I take a notebook to appointments where I list all of my questions & concerns.

    "Just Disc Degenation" is a confusing statement. All of my problems come from "Just" arthritis & degeneration & there's nothing "just" about the pain & extreme damage going on in my spine. I know they say "Degenerative disc disease is a normal part of aging & most people over a certain age have it" but that's very simplistic. With severe degeneration discs can impinge nerves causing numbness & crippling pain. Sometimes this requires surgery (as you know) to release the nerves.

    Was the nerve block for your SI or spine? I've had nerve blocks & the nerve burning procedures many times with very mixed results. In my experience they are like epidural spine injections. Sometimes they help, others not. It doesn't mean that's not the pain generator.

    Have you had any other tests to correctly identify what's causing your symptoms?

    You don't seem to have a lot of confidence in your specialists. I'm a big believer in second (or third) opinions. I know you're limited by insurance issues but I wouldn't have further surgery without.

    We talk about 'The Blend' here a lot. It's important to use a mix of different procedures, therapy, 'tricks' like ice/heat etc, natural remedies, medications etc. to manage our pain. There are loads of great tips if you read around on the forums. I think it's essential that you first get a correct diagnosis identifying your pain generators. They seem to be trying all the usual procedures but I think more diagnostics are needed.

    I'm sorry Lenora. I'm rambling a bit. To answer your question, Yes! I'd see another doctor even if it's just for a 2nd opinion, making sure that a different doc wouldn't be treating you in a different way. Ugh! I know you need to sort your insurance first.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
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