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Extreme leg pain/burning, nothing on MRI

Banjo GuyBBanjo Guy Posts: 1
edited 12/10/2014 - 7:13 AM in Chronic Pain
I am not sure just what category this should be under. It is actually for my wife's pain. She isw 60, has had 5 back surgeries, including a fusion, and had that hardware removed. She has extreme leg pain, especially in the right leg. From groin down to the feet. No injuries. There are times when she jus lies there and sobs uncontrollably. Had another MRI last week, and again it shows "nothing". The Dr said they will try to schedule some kind of CatScan. She is allergic to iodine. She does take pain pills, but there are times those do not affect the pain. A couple of weeks ago she was taken to ER because of the pain, but they could find nothing and sent her home, after giving her a shot of something that put her out. She has seen several different Dr's, been to PT and "pain management", none of which helped. I also have back/leg problems, but not to the extent that my wife does. She is spending most of her days sitting or laying down, living from one pain pill to the next. Is anybody else having these problems? Any suggestions?


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • EnglishGirlEEnglishGirl Posts: 1,825
    edited 12/13/2014 - 1:53 PM
    My friend has had many surgeries including 3 fusions. She was in the same position as your poor wife, her MRI didn't show anything that could explain her pain. I think sometimes after surgeries it's hard for them to see everything. Her surgeon is great! He ordered all kinds of tests including scans, nerve studies EMG & some diagnostic shots. He finally, correctly identified her pain generator & it's been surgically fixed. She's doing much better. I hope it's the same for your wife. If its predominately leg pain the nerve tests could help figure out exactly where it's coming from.

    It sounds like she could be controlling her pain better while she waits. Do you know what meds she's taking? Does she have nerve & muscle meds? Often they work better combined with pain meds than just narcotics alone. Has she been on the same meds, same dose for a long time? It could be time for a change or increase.
    From your description she probably can't do her PT stretches or exercises. I use heat, hot Epsom salt (magnesium) baths, aromatherapy massage oils & a prescription compounded cream to help with my pain but to be honest, if it's that bad I'd be relying on my specialists to adjust my meds until they find the pain generator & advise me on the best way to treat it. Have you gone with your wife to her pain management/doctors appointments to advocate for her? My husband does sometimes & it's a great support. He's better at voicing my pain & limitations than I am. I'm not very good at complaining or seeming weak ;-(

    Thank you for coming here on her behalf. Having a strong, supportive spouse is priceless when enduring chronic pain. I know it must be so hard for you to see her suffer so much.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Pain medications in the form of opiates are not the best option when it comes to managing that neuropathic pain.
    The other thing is that sitting or laying down are only going to contribute to her pain levels and make it harder , and more painful for her to get moving.
    The WORST thing that we can do is not get some regular excercise and stretching, despite the surgeries, because the inactivity worsens the muscle loss, stamina and endurance, as well as allows scar tissue to form , which can cause adhesions in areas that we don't want them.
    Is she is physical therapy or aqua therapy? If not, that might be a good idea to discuss with her doctor, also if she is not on a neuropathic pain medication, it would be a good idea to discuss with her doctor.

  • I have seen two different consultants for chronic pain in my lower back and leg and there was a significant difference in their response to my condition. The first consultant was orthopedic and the second was a neuro-surgeon. The neuro- surgeon read my MRI in far more depth, identifying and explaining very clearly what was going on in my spine from a neurological point of view. It might be useful therefore, for your wife to have a second opinion.

    Different doctors are not necessarily the answer for they cannot assess your wife's condition, a consultant needs to do this. I do not wish to undermine Orthopedic Consultants, who do an excellent job however, the way they see the problem will be different to that of a neuro- surgeon and perhaps both avenues need to be explored in order to get a better picture of exactly what is going on if, that is she has not already done so. There will also be differences in Consultants within the same field of work, as some will have more experience than others. So, if your wife has already seen an neuro- surgeon there is no reason why she can't see another,

    At the point were I was referred to a neurosurgeon the herniated disc I had originally been diagnosed with had gone back into place. Then why the pain? I asked! A pain which is so bad it reduces me to tears at times and has resulted in admission to A&E. 'Chronic nerve damage', was the response. A 'condition' which may not necessarily, be seen on an MRI. In order to make the diagnosis, a full patient history is required, which includes reflection on previous diagnoses and subsequent treatment, and careful reflection on a current as well as previous MRI scans. Following my consultation, I was referred to a consultant for pain management, who I am yet to see, but I already feel more optimistic about the future as my condition has been recognised, alongside a possible range of treatment options

    With a chronic condition, such as the one you describe, 'depression' can easily take hold. This in turn, can trigger a sense of apathy and resignation to the condition, particularly if the condition has continued over an extended peroid of time. This is where you can step in and take some control perhaps encouraging your wife to seek a second opinion, if she has not already done so.

    Good luck!
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