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Herniated disc - new tingling 2 months later

mangeymaggiemmangeymaggie Posts: 1
edited 08/23/2015 - 9:56 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hi, I'm new here. Hoping to connect with others who have a similar injury and see if anyone has insight into my current situation.

The background:
A little less than two months ago I was diagnosed (from an x-ray) with a herniated disc at L5-S1. The injury occured after lifting something heavy, but I think it was coming on for a while as I had felt twinges in that spot (lower right back) before, ever since falling off my bike a few weeks earlier. When the injury happened (after heavy lifting and twisting my body) I was in excrutiating pain. I felt nauseous and dizzy for about an hour and was basically immobilized by pain. The first doctor I saw said it was probably a muscle tear, since I didn't have any symptoms in my legs, only terrible back pain in one particular spot. The back pain was so bad I could hardly walk without feeling like I was being stabbed in the back, however I never experienced any tingling, numbness or leg pain. After it was clear the pain wasn't healing the way a muscle tear normally does, I had an x-ray done which pointed to a herniation.

Fast forward 2 months and it's definitely been getting better. I see a physiotherapist once a week and have been doing the exercises she recommended. I still can't bend forward and have difficult tying my shoes and getting in and out of bed, but now I only feel pain when I strain my back from moving too suddenly in the wrong direction. That is, until a few days ago when I started noticing tingling in my right leg below the knee (on the side where the herniation occurred). It comes and goes randomly throughout the day and doesn't seem to be related to any particular movement. I have also been noticing that I have much worse back pain when I lie down, though instead of being isolated to the spot of injury, it is in a more generalized middle-back area. Then, as of yesterday, I noticed that when I touch my lower back, I can feel tingling on the left side of my LEFT calf. This is the first time I have had symptoms anywhere on my left side.

The question:
Is it normal to develop tingling months after the herniation when that wasn't a part of the initial symptoms? Does that mean that the herniation is getting bigger/worse, or could it possibly be part of the healing process? I feel extremely confused because my pain is worlds better than it was, but this tingling is all new. I won't be able to see a doctor or my physiotherapist for a week, which is why I'm posting here. I have googled as much as I possibly can without finding any similar stories. Would love to hear opinions from folks on this site! Thanks!

Nobody on the forum is medically qualified or permitted to give advice any responses will be based on members personal experiences only

Liz -spine-health moderator


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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  • kristaylorkkristaylor Posts: 9
    edited 08/25/2015 - 4:29 PM

    I am new to this site as well but read your post and definitely understand your confusion and frustration. In June 2015 I found out via an MRI that I have a large herniation (2.0cm) at the L5-S1 level that is causing moderate spinal canal stenosis and encroachment onto my S1 nerve root (not to mention some bulging discs at L3 and L4). I was immediately given a medrol pack. I had very limited nerve pain which seemed to come and go. It almost completely dissapated after the first three weeks. Then one day when I got of the car, it came back with a vengeance and the bottom of my foot went numb and my legs were both on fire with pins and needles. I ran back to the two neurosurgeons I had first spoke with (both who told me they wouldn't operate before I tried all non surgical remedies thank goodness) and they told me to try a bi-lateral epidural. I have now had two of them and I can say that the nerve tingling is almost completely gone. Once in a while (maybe every two weeks) I will notice my calf feeling weak but it's nothing compared to the burning/pins and needles sensation. Now, a few weeks later, I just find myself dealing with pretty harsh lumbar pain like you described in specific points in my back. I almost feel like this is worse than the nerve pain since I can't figure out why it is happening. I was in fantastic shape before this all happened (via weight training which is likely the cause of all of this too) and I have now ceased all activity except three time weekly PT and a few walks a week varying from 1-3 miles. I will sometimes have a good week and then have a horrific day or two where I feel like I'm back to square one.
    The best advice I seem to have gotten is that the nerve pain can come and go (I was told to brace when sneezing to avoid it moving?!?) and as long as you can still walk on your toes and heels, it's just likely the sensation of nerve activity that you feel. Keep an eye on it and see if you progress in the next couple days. If you don't, see your doctor. Also, it seems from everything that I read that it can likely take 6 months to a year for the herniation to complete whateever healing it's going to do so don't assume your recent nerve pain is the sign of something worsening. The doctors told me it's completely normal to have nerve pain come and go. For all you know, you made one tiny lurch the wrong way. I hope you feel better soon.

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