Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Radiculopathy, L5-S1 Spondylolisthesis. Tingling legs. No pain in legs & back. Docs different opinio

Jason_PJJason_P Posts: 1
First-time poster. I'm very glad to have found this forum. I've read through a lot of posts from the last several years, and it's been very helpful. There are a lot of really informed, caring and very thoughtful people here sharing their experiences. Hopefully some day I'll have some experiences and insight myself to be able to help others.

I'm trying to get the info to make good decisions, but it's tough to navigate a path. I've seen many doctors. I've done many tests. I've read many, many research reports. But it's so conflicting: lots of different suggestions, but real evidence is limited and it seems there are no clear answers. At least reading the forums here reassured me that I'm not alone in finding it so tricky and that so many of you have had the same problems in making your way through this.

My story:

- Weird sensations in both legs: numbness, tingling, warm on legs, cold on bottom of feet. Best way to describe the overall feeing is that it's like when your leg "falls asleep" from sitting on it too long.

- Started 8 months ago.

- The symptoms have stayed the same over the last 8 months, but they've gradually increased in frequency. At first, a few moments in the day. 6 months ago, several times each day, 10-20 minutes each time. For the last 3 months, symptoms occur around 50% of the day. It's also there most of the night (from what I notice when I wake up to use the toilet). Mornings I wake up with very tingling, tight legs, but standing for 20 minutes makes it feel 90% ok again.

- No leg pain: the feelings are weird, but don't actually hurt. Some leg muscle cramping, but no muscle weakness. No butt/gluteus pain.

- No real back pain. Slight back stiffness, primarily after long walks and when waking up in the morning, but not really painful.

- Symptoms are least noticeable when walking. Sitting or laying usually causes symptoms.

- When I lay on my back and raise my legs, I immediately have the feeling that blood is rushing down my legs, and the tingling, numbness and warmth that are usually present increase in intensity.

- MRI/X-ray show disc degeneration in L4-L5 and L5-S1, severe nerve root compression in L5-S1, and Grade II spondylolisthesis in L5-S1.

- All doctors say that based on the X-ray/MRI, I've had the spondylolisthesis since early childhood.

- EMG/NCS show electrodiagnostic evidence of chronic L4-S1 radiculopathy in both legs. No polyneuropathy or entrapment neuropathy.

- I'm 39, male. Heart and circulation studies also done. All in excellent shape. Blood tests also all good. General physical shape good.

I've seen lots of doctors. Their opinions are all over the place.

A spinal surgeon who seems to have the biggest reputation in the region (both as a practitioner and as an academic) told me I need L5-S1 TLIF fusion immediately. He's highly confident it would successfully fix my radiculopathy. He said I'd recover quickly and wouldn't notice any difference in back movements or my life in general. He said I'd need L4-L5 fusion in 10-20 years, but I'll need that in any event regardless of whether I fuse L5-S1 now. He says every week I delay surgery at this point will reduce its chance of success.

4 other spinal surgeons separately told me that I definitely should not do any type of surgery now. But their suggestions of what to do varied. One doctor recommended Lyrica, anti-inflammatories and aspirin. Another suggested B1/B6/B12. Another advised physical-therapy, ultrasound, posture correction, and lumbar traction. The fourth doctor told me to just make sure I do lots of cardio exercise, stay active and otherwise just live my life normally (he said my posture is more than good enough already, so changing it is silly at best and harmful at worst).

In addition to the spinal surgeons, 3 neurologists/neurosurgeons examined and/or tested me. One said I definitely need surgery if I still feel tingling after 1 month. The second doctor told me to avoid surgery unless the pain becomes unbearable, and otherwise to do PT and take anti-inflammatories. THe third doctor ordered a brain MRI to check if I have multiple sclerosis (the test was negative).

In two separate cases, the doctors who told me to definitely not have surgery warned me as an aside that I should be very wary in my case because of the financial incentives driving fusion surgery. They told me that although many people would see my MRI and immediately say that I need fusion, my symptoms don't justify surgery.

I tried two different physical therapists. Haven't noticed anything, but maybe it's too soon. I'm signed up for more sessions, per doctor's orders.

I've read many research studies on this area. I'm familiar with the standard steps for chronic pain treatment (like these on this forum), conservative treatment options, and surgical options. But I have no real-world experience with this. So, I'd just like to ask you all what you suggest.

I understand no one here is my doctor, and I understand that nothing I get on a forum can substitute for professional medical advice. But you all know better than anyone what a murky area this is. Doctors' opinions are extremely different. There are lots of unanswered questions about everything, and there's outright controversy in several areas. There are surprisingly few evidence-based studies to give doctors or patients clear guidance: the ones that exist are contradictory both with other studies and even with themselves, and several studies altogether indicate that in any event there are no long-term differences in outcomes between different treatment options. And additionally, I've found that some pretty commonly recommended types of non-surgical care have essentially evidence supporting their benefit.

So in that type of situation, I really think that the experiences of people like you who are going through it can be very valuable. I'd love any ideas you have to help guide me as I start making my way through this. I'd really be interested in both treatment ideas that have worked for you as well as your stories about progression of symptoms (For example, how was your progression? Slowly increased until it was painful? Quickly progressed to big pain? If I start with just leg tingling for many months without actual pain in leg or back, does it then progress to pain?).

I'm really open to anything.


There are no medical professionals on the forum side of this site. Therefore everything you read is based on the personal experiences and/or research done by the individual member. Comments should never be taken as pure medical facts. You need to discuss this with your doctor. They are the only ones that can provide you with detailed information about you, the patient.



  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and growing.
    Here are just some of the highlights that are available as tabs on the main Spine-Health menu bar

    Spine-Health Main Menu Tabs

    Conditions Detailed medical libraries of articles and videos that address almost every spinal condition.
    Treatment List of treatments to the conditions identified by Spine-Health.
    Wellness Section contains articles, tips and videos to help patients after surgery and also to help people avoid surgery.
    Medical Articles
    Pain Forums These are the forums you will be using
    Find A Doctor This provides with a method to search for doctors in various locations.
    Videos Index to all Spine-Health Videos

    As a bonus, Spine-Health provides these patient forums. Here you can meet thousands of people who understand and can relate to your situation. You will soon become part of the Spiney family[/u] who provide comfort and the advantages of a support system. You are now part of this family that is approximately 27,00 international members and growing daily.


    - It is very important to understand the Forum Rules to make sure all of your posts[u] do not violate any of the rules.[/u]

    - All new members must read our FAQ in order to understand the layout of the forums, how to navigate through the forums, helpful terms, how to make effective threads and posts, plus a link index to many of the important medical forums and key medical articles on Spine-Health Forum FAQ

    I am positive any member, new or old will find this Chroinc Pain - Step by Step thread very valuable.

    Here are some links that all new members need to review to create effective threads and more

    Read before you post
    More Info Tips for Newcomers
    Understanding the rules

    All of this will help make your threads better and improve the times and quality of responses you will receive.

    You can also find Spine-Health on these Social Networks

    Facebook www.facebook.com/spinehealth
    Pinterest http://pinterest.com/spinehealth/boards/
    Twitter https://twitter.com/SpineHealth

    If you have any questions or need assistance, you can use the private message facility to[u] contact any one of the Spine-Health Moderators




    Liz -Spine-health Moderator

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Hi Jason,
    I can relate to your story, Surgeons disagreed on my treatment plan as well. For me, pain became progressively worse as time ticked by (2 years). It sounds like early stages and you are taking action. My opinion would be to tilt towards conservative measures and give physio and other treatments a solid chance. If however, there is no improvement or your condition / symptoms become worse; then I would lean towards sooner is better (surgery ) in order to avoid risk of further disc damage, decomposing of the fascia or potential permanent nerve damage. Anyone I have spoke with would never do multi-level fusions. My progression was sciatica, numbness to muscle pain and finally an inability to walk with acute pain. I hope this helps!
    Cindy Alberta Canada
    Surgery Nov 2015
    Cervical ADR M6 C4/5, C 5/6, Anterior Fusion C 6/7
    Lumbar ADR M6 L3/4, L4/5 isthmic spondylolisthesis, 360 Fusion L-5 S-1
    Stenum Hospital, Germany
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 489
    Hi Jason....Sometimes I think the waiting till you can't stand it anymore will depend on your line of work....but then again, just everyday doings, like leaning over to brush your teeth, can't push one over the cliff of no return.

    I think I waited it out for a couple years, spondylolisthesis 1, getting conservative treatments, then the last six months of that having to work through excruciating pain before surgery. At that time my Dr advised me not to push it further, unless I wanted emergency surgery. By then my spondylolisthesis had went to grade (level?) 3.

    It's really a gamble that only you can decide on, unless you wait till it's too late, but then again, everyone is different, and you may respond to conservative treatment better.

    My PT therapist (post op), told me there is no exercise I could have done to correct spondylolisthesis. In previous years I had strong abdominal muscles, but most PT core exercises after awhile tended to irratate my back, exerbating the sciatic pain, it became a viscious cycle.

    Sometimes when I go to the land of could of, should of, would of, I think I would have been better off if I would have done it all different.....but that's not the way it works....you just have to go by what you know now, learning along the way, and let life unfold from there....changing the things you can, but accepting what may be inevitable.....but always hoping and praying for the best.....never giving up.

Sign In or Register to comment.