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Strange burning sensation in lumbar region?

blackberrybunnybblackberrybunny Posts: 157
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:40 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hello everybody,
This is my first post here. This past March I was diagnosed with anular tears in my L4-L5 and L5-S1 discs. It took about 8 months before I felt better, but I am still hurting. However, with the help of Lortabs, my pain level is much less now.
I decided to post here finally and ask about soemthing. For about the past 2 or 3 months, I have been experiencing this burning sensation in my lumbar region. Not like a muscle burn. I have not strained my muscles and this is not muscle tenstion. It is something else. It burns in a different way. Like some kind of nerve pain? It seems to cover a good region of my lumbar area, not just in one pin point spot, but in a general area.
Any ideas on what this could be? I am in pain every day from my 2 discs, but this is something new, something that is now starting to make me wonder, and possibly start to worry ever more, after a couple of months of it, and it is not seeming to go away.
My neurosurgeon has told me that I really need a spinal double fusion, and I am saying no way. So in the meantime, I'm using pain meds. Getting by. I am sure this new weird burning feeling has something to do with my bad discs, since that is the area it is in, but what could it be?
Thanks for listening and for any help.


  • my thoughts are the burning sensation could be nerve pain. I have that occassionally but for me I'm able to distinguish muscle pain, back pain, nerve pain.

    I had microdiscectomy to remove the piece of disc compressing the left sciatic nerve at L5-S1. Unfortunately, I reherniated the disc and have plans for a revision microDiscectomy. Like you I was told by some I need a fusion and am just not read for that scale of surgery. It could have to do with nerve pain.

    Just curious, have you seen a 2nd opinion with doctors? Not knowing your full details, I just wonder b/c I was told fusion by many doctors but many others said microdiscectomy revision. I even asked about epidural to help reduce inflammation of the disc but my disc mass was so bad that I've lost feeling in my left leg (a good portion of it) and a lot of leg strength so I have to try something to get pressure off the nerve. But, I have to tell you I visited 7 doctors (3 neuros, 3 orthospine, and 1 remote opinion for a speciality clinic) and amazing the information I collected and the varying schools of thought.

    the burning might be an indicator the nerve is being compressed. If that's the case...I would think you might start feeling some leg pain (like poor circulation, muscle cramping, or other).

    Maybe others are familiar with 'burning' sensation and will offer advice.
  • I think a second opinion is the way to go. I too saw 3 Spine Specialists and on the 3rd opinion Pain Management Dr. I had burning when I had facet joint problems but that's just my experience. I hope you find out what's going on. You may need another MRI or further testing. Wishing you less pain days ahead. 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
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  • I agree with what Dnice have told you. That burning sensation in my own experience is nerve pain from nerves that are impinged by the tears on the discs. Again, this is what has happened to me and I am no Doctor or Nurse, but my personal experience tells me that it sounds like nerve pain.
    If I was you I would make an appointment with the Doctor and will talk to him about this new symptom. He can either give you something for the nerve pain, or tell you that your discs are in in worst shape and that you need to seriously considered getting them repaired.
    Either way, is good to get a second opinion from another Neurosurgeon to see what's best for you.

    Take care, and again welcome,

  • Wow, I was happily surprised to find three different responses. Thank you!

    I do have an appt. with my pain mgmt dr. tomorrow, who is also the neurosurgeon I mentioned above. He is the one that has performed an epidural on me, which didn't work but only made me worse. After the epi made me worse, I had an Discogram done by him (NOT FUN!) and this is when we discovered I had anular tears and that my 2 discs were leaking. This is why he said the epi didn't work. He told me they won't work when you are torn and leaking. And this is when he said I needed the double fusion.

    I did go and get a 2nd opinion at our university of fl's teaching hospital, "Shands" and the dr. I saw there said I would need the fusion, but I am only 41, and he said if I could wait, then to wait, because I am so young still. He said TOO YOUNG for the fusion right now. Try to exercise, lose some weight, that will help, and then we can think about the fusion later on down the road....

    I have never had sciatic pain, no pain down one leg or the other, just a horrible pain from the discs themselves, especially when they are leaking. When we did that discogram, man, it hurt, and he said that pain was the feeling of the dye leaking out of the discs, just like the gel (propulsus) was doing. So when I go to hurting really bad, I figure I am leaking. But this new pain, this burning sensation, this is new. It's like when you rub Tiger Balm, or Icy Hot on your skin--how it burns? Sometimes it feels cold, sometimes burns like menthol was rubbed in.

    I'm definitely going to ask about this tomorrow when I am at the doctor's office. I'll let you guys know what he said when I get home.
  • It is possible that the material that is leaking from the discs is irritating the surrounding tissue. This is irritating to it, causing that burning feeling, just like it can affect the adjoining spinal nerve root, causing referred pain to the buttock, hip, leg and/or foot.

    It makes sense to avoid major surgery if possible. If you read through other posts, you will see there are many people on the board who have had fusion in their twenties or thirties. But if you can avoid it without causing permanent nerve damage, that is the way to go. At this point in time, with all the new technologies on the horizon, it only makes sense to wait if you can. Besides, surgery is statistically more successful if you have leg pain...less so if you only have back pain. Back pain is more difficult to track down the pain generator.

    Hope you will find a solution to your pain soon.

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  • Hi Gwennie, thanks for your comments.

    I am only 41, so I really want to wait to have surgery.

    The burning sensation seems to be only on the surface of my skin. Not deep inside, just on the surface. That is why it has me so confused. I just wanted to take a moment to post that, but I've gotta run right now, as my ride is coming! Anyone have ideas on if you think it's still nerve pain?
  • Reading your posts, makes me wonder if you have any change in color or temperature to the skin in the area where you feel the burning.

    One of the unfortunate things that can happen due to injury or surgery, is RSD Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. Some of the more common symptoms when the sympathetic nervous system is involved are
    * Burning pain
    * Extreme sensitivity to touch
    * Skin color changes (red or bluish)
    * Skin temperature changes (hot or cold)

    I am simply presenting this to give you more information on the multitude of maladies that we can all be afflicted with. There is really no easy answer and of course the best thing to do, is to see your doc and have a hands on evaluation.

    None of us want to have surgery, but there comes a time that if we hold off, we risk injury that cannot be repaired regardless of how many advances are made in neuroscience. We all have to weigh the risks and of course information is so vital when making those decisions. Nothing can replace the testing and evaluation done by a qualified medical professional. I hope that you are able to find the answers along with the best course of action in treating your injuries.

  • I also had trigger point injections for tense muscles around my L5-S1 herniated disc it burned more afterwards but it seemed to help a little. I hope you find out more at your Drs appt. 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
  • Hi everybody,
    Sorry it has taken me a cuople days longer than anticipated to post.
    I went to my pain mgmt. dr. well, Really, his Physician's Assistant. I told him about the burning sensation and he prescribed Neurontin for me. I'm supposed to take one at bedtime. I have delayed taking them, but I think that as soon as my husband gets home tonight, I'll take the first one. I don't know why I'm scared of it. Anyone had any relief using it?
    He said the burning sensation is probably my nerve endings being irritated. Really. As if I couldn't figure THAT much out. He said my discs are probably leaking, causing the nerves to be irritated.
    Well, I am on the couch now, with one of those cold packs on the spot. I swear I can feel the burning sensation even though my back is now COLD from the cold gel pack. My husband said the area was not red, but it did feel hotter there. So I don't know, maybe next month I'll ask him about the RSD you mentioned above.

    Hope you all had a good weekend, possibly one with a littles less pain. ;-) ~Molly

    *I wanted to come back and add that since I've been sitting here on the couch with these icy gel packs on my burning area, I wanted to relay my experience with that. I have used 2 separate get packs now, both quite cold. The strange thing is that even though the packs are really cold, it seems to make the 'burn' feel ever hotter than ever. Isn't that odd? Yet, you can clearly feel that my skin and the entire area, is quite cold to the touch now. How is it that it can feel like it is burning even hotter than without the cold gel packs? They are not frozen, they are only refrigerated. It's not like the cold burning feeling you get from placing ice on your skin. These packs are only cold. I don't get it!!
  • I had three lumbar fusions..and have L-3 to S-1 fused. Best thing I ever did. I am pain free and totally recommend it. I am one month today 3-12-14 post op fron the third fusion and for the first time after the surgeon removed the rods from the L-5 and S-1 fusion cuz he said they didnt need to be there it was fused..it was I has it done in 2004...I got this weird burning sensation on both thighs, my lower back and on top of both but cheeks. they are kinds numb but at the same time they burn and if you touch it feels like your being cut with a razor blade...its not nerve pain, Im on Lyrica which takes care of that pain..and its definately not working!!! Im gonna figure this out cuz i cant deal with this...even my pants rub on me and i go through the roof!!!...keep you posted...
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