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Hello everyone. I've been on this site awhile now, perusing various topics and discussions, and have also added a few comments of my own. I reasoned it's time to let you know about my journey with spinal issues.
I'm a 44 year old male. Have always been in manual labor. I own my own carpet cleaning business and have always done the labor for 26 years. Over the years I've had on and off "pinches" in my low back. Some to the point where it was difficult to work or even bend forward. With chiropractic, kinesiology, exercise and acupuncture I was always able to overcome the pain associated with those "pinches" in my low back.
In September of 2015 I awoke one morning and my right big toe was partially numb. It offered some concern, however without being insured I attempted to home therapy it. Progressively, over the course of the next few months it spread to a few more of the toes, but only on the right. I did attempt chiropractic, kinesiology and acupuncture again, without the aid of any x-rays or an MRI, to no avail. The numbness continued to worsen. It continued to spread up my shin and settled into my right knee. I lived with this for 1.5 years. Again, I did try the various non-invasive methods, and even had an x-ray by a chiro, but nothing ever resolved itself. During his time I was still able to perform most normal activities, aside from running. I just couldn't run properly as there were balance issues because of the numbness. It was also laborious to wear a sock on the right foot for any length of time, as it felt like my foot was in a vice after a few hours. I continued to work, lift and exercise in the usual ways.
It all came to head on April 18, 2017. I awoke from sleep and could not stand up out of bed because of the pain and numbness running down my right leg and my right heel. There was also slight numbness in my left foot. A trip to the ER was made and after an MRI I had this: a 10mm disc herniation at L5/S1, a smaller disc herniation at L4/L5 and a bulging disc at L3/L4. L1/L2 also has a slight bulge. I was sent home with all the usual meds and appts with a PM and PT. I cancelled the PM appt and had 2 appts with PT. After being at PT twice and basically only being told to stretch, I opted to pay out of pocket and head to a spinal decompression/chiropractic clinic. After 35 treatments of spinal decompression on the Lordex machine and an adjustment after each session, as well as stretching every day and trying my best to exercise, in about 1 month most of the sciatic pain was gone, but the numbness/radiculopathy/parasthesia remained. My left leg has progressively gotten worse, with numb toes and some numbness to the knee, as well as the usual burning, cold and other sensations that accompany that and occasionally my saddle area has these sensations as well. I stopped the decompression and chiropractic after my left leg was worsening because of some of the things I've read on here about how adjusting the back with a herniation may not be good, contrary to the chiros thoughts.
I've been to my GP twice and asked for a referral to a neurosurgeon or an Orthopedic Surgeon, only to leave with no referral. He seems to think that they will tell me the same things he tells me and that I've made good progress and I should continue with PT. He's a good doctor. Very practical and caring.
Currently PT is a waste of money for me. Every time I go it just a new stretch to perform. When I go in to PT there's no actual therapy. Just listening and then a printout of how to stretch. I figure I'll save my $75 copay and do my own thing.
So right now I get up and stretch every day. I also bought ab slings, attached them to a rafter, slide my arms through them and hang for a few minutes each day. I also try and walk or cycle as often as I can and for as long as I can with the parasthesia. I try and also sit in the hot tub for 10-20 minutes after a gym session. Don't get me wrong. I don't go at the gym heavy. I can't. But I need to stay active. I've also been using essential oils (helychrisum, peppermint, eucalyptus and frankincense) on my back as I've heard they can help with nerve repair. I take b vitamins, a multi-vitamin, ALA, MSM, magnesium, omega 3's and whatever else to aid my body in healing.
Currently I'm nearly 4 months from the acute problem that sent me to the ER, however this has been going on for nearly 20 months. I know it was foolish not to get an MRI when the toes started to numb, but without insurance at the time, it was risky. I feel I've leveled off in my healing. My legs do not allow me to run, or do a lot of activities normal for a 44 year old. I can walk fairly normal for a while, but they fatigue easily. Its the same with sitting or standing. Lying flat is great! The numbness/burning and odd sensations are present 24/7. Wearing socks is difficult on both feet now
I'm really trying to avoid surgery, but like everyone else I'm scared of what may happen with it or without it. And like others on here, I always want to hear what happens to people with similar conditions, but they post a few times and the are gone. So as I continue to see if my body can heal the compressed nerves or whether it leads me down the path of surgery, I promise to let you know any all things that help me hopefully get relief from my condition so hat possibly you can benefit and/or have hope as well. Also any comments or suggestions are welcome. Thank you for listening!