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Pain decreased but MRI did not changed - what to do?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,082
I had MRI done 4 months ago while in agonizing pain with total unability to move big toe on my right leg. I has to use walker/weelchair since I was not able to even bring the foot down and laying down was the only position I could be). Pain diminished (2 steroid courses later, PT, posture watching, limited sitting etc etc). I am still in pain (1-4), mostly in the back but sometimes in the leg. I am using vicodine may be 1-2 times a week and lidoderm patches (every other day or so). Some functions of big toe returned, some not, but I think I am still improving but VERY VERY slowly. My biggest problem is pain while sitting. I went to surgent (#3 since #1 and #2 did not wanted to operate on me and I saw them 10 days and 2 months after onset). He performed some tests and sent me for MRI and he thought that based on the tests my herniation is in a good shape. But new MRI showed only "minimal improvements" and the nerve still trapped. Why do I see such a tremendous improvement in symptoms but not on MRI? By they way the first two were neurosergents and the third one is ortopedic. I am going to see this person next Monday to discuss MRI results but wanted to see if anyone else had improvement in symptoms and not on MRI. I am still debating about surgery with myself.


  • I found your responses and teachertx also. I have been having sciatic pain off and on for almost 14 yrs during one of my pregnancies. I had a major blow out last june. I was suppsoed to have a microdisectomy in August but, I was scared. Instead of having flareups every couple yrs now they come every couple months. not as severe as that first time. but they last longer and longer each time. This time i have been out of work for 4 weeks now. Chiro and my pcp both agree its time to go bk to see the neurosurgeon and discuss what options i have. I havent had a new mri, I would imagine the ns would send me for a new one anyway but, you never know. All I know is I am tired of this pain. I can't bend over, lift my legs up in the air when laying or sitting, cant sit still in a comfortable position for very long because it becomes uncomfortable and since that major blow out almost 1 yr ago I have tailbone pain that is at least a 2 everyday all day. Have feelings in my foot leg and hips and pain in the latter as well. I hope everything works out for you and I will be looking forward to more of your posts in the future. I am seeing the NS on april 8th. I will probably have a post of my own after that.

  • I have been reading a lot on the internet (professional articles) that not all herniated discs can cause pain. Many people have bulging disc and the symptoms could be none to severe. If your symptoms are improving, I would wait until you can't bear the pain any longer--- unless your NS advise you to have the surgery.

    I reread your post again. The trapped nerve doesn't sound good, but your MRI shows minimal improvement, which is encouraging. I've never had a MRI that shows improvement. good luck!
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  • I saw the surgeon today. First, he disagrees with report and he said that he sees at least 25% improvement (compare to 'minimal' improvement on radiology report). Second, he does not recommend the surgery at this time since 1) I am still improving 2) the pain in my back might come from the the other disk and he might not get rid of it completly 3) he said interesting thing that surgery sucessfully remove pain in 90% but only effective 50% of time in removing weakness (and this is what I have in my big toe). Especially after 4 months of weakness. He said that the biggest sucess rate is next day after weakness occured but most surgeons will not operate that soon. My 'next day' was 4 month ago and I already did not have a surgery so I am not going to cry over spilled milk now.
    Bad news that I have this ugly sensitivity in my toe and on top of the foot and sandals suring summer is a big problem. He said that it will probably stay for the rest of my life and never gets better....He suggested to wait another 2-4 months and see. According to him - no difference at this point in surgery sucess - whatever we will define by this word.
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