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Having Cauda Equina symptoms, but MRI says not much?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
I had 4 discs damaged last August doing heavy lifting. Since then I am having increasing symptoms of bowel bladder control vs retention problems, sciatic pain, numbness, gait changes, 15 pounds of weight loss without dieting, and no appetite besides being in constant pain.
I notified my doc who said to go to the ER and have another set of MRI's done. I did so, but the radiologist said the only thing he sees in the lumbar area is facet joint damage, L4-5, disc damage L2-5, Schmerl's SP? nodulesbut only slight impingement on the cord space. I have a notable hemangioma in the T1-2 area.
I am seeing my doc again tomorrow before having a second round of 4 transforaminal injections on Sunday Dec 14th. I am getting the feeling he doesn't believe me. I am starting to think maybe I'm nuts or something! How do you get them to believe you? This MD is a really good surgeon who did my neck fusion. I really trust him, but am starting to feel the need to move on. I am also having problems with the Lortab he gave me. I started breaking out in hives, so I have had to do with Tramadol and Darvocet for pain which is like taking aspirin. I have a whole bottle of 180 tabs I have not touched because of the hives, should I take it to the office to show him I'm not some drug addict? I don't know what to do do, just need help controlling the pain so I can keep on working. The first set of shots only lasted 3 weeks! :''(


  • Hi Pamlee,

    I find myself in a similar posion to you. I wish I could tell you that the docs have and are taking my situation seriously but they are not.

    I have slowly been experiencing bowel and bladder problems reduced anal tone and saddle parasthesia. An emergency mri showed no significant changes from the previous one.

    To cut a long story short 8 weeks down the line nerve root blocks done with minimal effect my pm doc has said I need to be seen urgently. Well quelle surprise thats what I was told 8 weeks ago.

    It seems to me that until I am completely incontinent or lose the use of my legs no one is going to believe me. This leaves me in limbo so to speak.

    I get the impression that because I am quite calm and also a nurse that they are not too sure of me. But I am going to star kicking as soon like this week, because Ido not want to end up with permanent nerve damage.

    Good luck and persevere

    L5/S1 prolapse
    L4/L5 Prolapse
    Moderate bilateral foraminal stenosis
    at above levels
    Meds Lyrica 300mg
    Temgesic 400mcg
    Tramadol 50mg
    Codiene 30MG
    voltarol 100MG
  • that you are wrong.

    I read somewhere that CES can be insideous, which is a worry I have in my own mind for myself.

    I have had bladder issues but it never stays, saddle tingling / numbness, weakness, both legs went totally numb once for few minutes.

    I was urgent referred to the OS who I see now however, no-one jumped up and down and I went thro the usual steps before surgery was tried.

    I think it is important that you find a doc who does believe in your pain. Since you can't show them, like a nasty bruise, it is so hard.

    Take your pain meds, write a pain diary, list activities you find hard. There are symptom patterns that the doctors can look for. Perhaps they just don't have enough info on your case yet?
    If you don't ask the right question, you won't get the right answer! The doctors lead you in a consultation to where they want to take you. You need to make sure you tell them the other stuff too.

    Good luck.
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  • i too have increasing pain, nunbness and gait changes--enuff to have me now using a walker. my pc care physician-god bless him-trusts and beleives me completely, but like you, the mri doesn't show any significant changes. so here i sit..unable to do much of anything, trying hard just not to gain any weight-much less lose it-while i wait until my next surgeon appointment (jan. 14), i fall, or i loose contol of bladder/bowel. its like watching a horse race frame by frame...it takes forever, and you are anxious to know the results.

    it is frustrating to try and understand why some mri's show every detail and others do not. but i know what i feel, and pray it is not to late when it can be seen as well.

    it is nice to finally see someone in the same shape as me--makes me realize that im not as alone here.

    thank you for your post and pm me anytime...

  • I appreciate all your comments. I am going to give it a real shot today at my appt to see if he thinks I am a nut or not. I may still have the shots on Sunday, we'll see, then go from there if things don't improve. I am bringing my husband for moral support. I'm just so depressed about the whole thing :( . I don't take any pain meds for hours before I go so I can tell him how much pain I am in when I get there, so it is hellish trying to get through most of the day without taking anything.
    I'll let you know how it goes.
  • that can cause bowel/bladder saddle numbness probs
    Pudendal Neuralgia is one, look into it if your mri scan is good. You can have this as well as herniated disks at the same time .

    If your piraformis muscle is very tight it cause can saddle parasthesia/numbness too(but not bladder probs)
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  • I've been having "leakage" It's a side effect of the epidurals. I hope they figure out what's going on Pamlee. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I saw my Surgeon last night, and we went over everything. He said he didn't think the bowel/bladder problems are because of my back issues, but he cannot rule it out at this point. He re-did some strength and co-ordination tests on me and said I definately have worsened symptoms of balance and weakness in my legs and feet. He wants me to go see a Neuro MD because MS runs in my immediate family and that can cause these symptoms also. I took in my whole bottle of Lortab (180 tabs) that I can't take to show him I'm not some drug addict. He assured me he didn't think that, so I feel better now. In years past I sometimes would not even tell my MD's that I worked in Pharmacy, I had one guy say "well I didn't need a prescription because I could just get anything I wanted"!!! :?? So far in all the places I have lived, Las Vegas is the worst for trying to find good doctors. They come and go so fast you can't establish a relationship with anyone! I havn't been to a GP for over 2 years, the last one I went to was a woman DO and I was having bad issues with hot flashes. She told me it was a mind over metter thing and I didn't need treatment, just meditation L). I finally am getting to see an Internal Med doc that a friend of mine has been seeing for a long time, she says he is really good, so there's hope. I changed insurances so I have to wait till Feb 1st to see anyone, because if I get diagnosed with cancer or MS I won't get accepted. The new insurance starts Jan 1st, but has a 30 day waiting period. This is a supplemental thing from AFLAC. But it may take a month to get referrals to a Cardiac and Neuro doc, so I made the appt for Jan 12.
    I certainly appreciate everyones comments, and I'll ask my surgeon about the Pudendal Neuralgia. Where is the piraformis muscle? Thanks!
    He put me on Lyrica since I am having too many side effects from the Lortab, so I'll be taking that plus Tramadol and the Darvocet. He also put me back on restrictions at work, but HR says I have already had 90 days light duty, so I am out of work till I get released back to full duty. I have FMLA protecting my job for several months. I am glad to be off work for a while anyway, maybe it will help some. They changed my injections till next Wednesday instead of Sunday, but he would not concede to giving me any Valium before the procedure, so It'll be hellish again as the versed did nothing last time :''( He said I had to be awake to communicate with him. Last time they had to use Sodium bicarbonate injection during the procedure. I am wondering if my heart rate was off or something. Bicarb is normally used in emergency situations to stabilize heart rate during respiratory or cardiac arrest. I had an abnormal EKG showing possible previous infarction (heart attack) that I never knew I had. Another thing I will be seing an MD about. Heart problems do not run in my family as far as I know, but I know very little about my extended relatives.
    At least for a while I will not have to deal with the embarassing problems of bowel and bladder control while working - yeah! <:P <br />I hope the Lyrica helps with the pain!
  • I know this will not help anyone but it has helped me to think someone else feels the same.
    I too feel not taken seriously and I despair as there seems to be no hope they say I'm too far gone and the risks outweigh the benefits.
    I am very depressed so please at least feel you havehelped by discussing this. Anne
  • I know this will not help anyone but it has helped me to think someone else feels the same.
    I too feel not taken seriously and I despair as there seems to be no hope they say I'm too far gone and the risks outweigh the benefits.
    I am very depressed so please at least feel you havehelped by discussing this. Anne
  • Yes I know what you mean, I fight depression all the time, I'm to young to get debilitated with this condition. It's so embarrassing I could barely talk to the doc about it. When I went to the ER, there was just a PA seeig patients in the section I was in. I felt like he didn't believe me either. I keep thinking maybe I'm dreaming these symptoms, but then I have another episode, and know I'm not. Feel free to PM me any time you need to vent or have someone to talk to. >:D<
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