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cervical and lumbar stenosis... new symptoms and I'm scared to death!

Debbie913DDebbie913 Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Spinal Stenosis
Hi all... I'm Debbie, and I am new here, but not new to back problems. I'm 48 and have back problems since I was in my late 20's. My lower back would go out on me on a regular basis. As time went on I learned what I could and could not do in order to avoid an incident. As the years went on, things got worse. I had been seeing a chiropractor and it helped for a few years and then my back would no longer hold an adjustment. My doctor finally sent me to an Orthopedic surgeon. I had MRI's, CT scans, X rays, etc. Finally being diagnosed with degenerative spinal arthritis, and then later leading to cervical and lumbar stenosis. I have been getting all the injections in my facet joints in my neck and also in my lumbar spine.
So this is where I am now. I have gradually been noticing numbness and heaviness and severe weakness in both legs, this morning I woke around 3 am and my symptoms are suddenly much worse. I am having what feels like lightening strikes to my legs, I know its the nerves being smothered from the stenosis. I was sure I was going to the hospital and was going to be paralyzed from the waist down. I called my ortho docs office to get the answering service so I could talk to the doc on call for this weekend. I told him of my symptoms and how much worse they are and he assured me that I would not be paralyzed. I had been taking Arthrotec for inflammation and pain, but stopped taking it because I have a sensitive stomach, and only took it when I really felt like I needed it.
Anyway... sorry to ramble so much, but I wantedto let you all know what is going on with me before I ask you all what you think might be going on. The doc on call told me to start on the Arthrotec asap andcontinue on it through the weekend, and assured me everything would be fine and my doctor would contact me first thing Monday morning.
I have never had any surgery on my back at all, just the cortisone injections.
I am scared out of my wits... can someone please tell me what I should do? What is happening, and what can I expect out of this?
The doctors tell me I will need a tri-level fusion in my lumbar spine, but I have been putting it off. Is my body telling me its time to do something about this now?! Any advice would be greatly appriciated...
Thanks for listening,


  • Welcome to Spine Health Debbie.

    I hope that early next week you get a new mri or ct scan of your lumbar spine. It does sound like nerve compression- I wonder if you had a disc blow out & while you were sleeping it prolapsed (as well as the stenosis)? It can happen from a simple sneeze as well as just rolling over.

    The electric shock sensation sounds like something is laying on or touching your cord.

    I don't know about the medication your taking but you probably need a strong anti-inflamtion drug and if they say to keep taking it maybe you can take it with prilosec (I used to take mine with nexium). I really can't take any of them now (trying to get an ulcer).

    As for the fusion. I had L4/L5/S1 fused (PLIF). It is a very brutal recovery, but my low back is so much happier :) after a lifetime of pain it was nice to be pain free (in my low back).

    Keep some ice packs & heating pad handy. Do you have a tens unit? That should help as well.

    Feel Better,

  • Arthrotec is a strong NSAID combined with another medication to protect the stomach.

    Debbie, I hope you get resolution soon!
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  • Welcome to Spine Health. Sorry that you are going through such a frightening time right now. It is good that you call the answering service so that your doc will know first thing Monday that something is up. One thing about NSAIDs, is that they can take up to two weeks to really provide effective relief. That's why most times when the doc puts us on them they say "take this for two weeks and then schedule a follow up".

    Many of us have issues with stenosis in one or more areas of our spines. It is not the end all of spine problems and can be treated very effectively. I've had numerous decompression surgeries where the stenosis is battled by "opening things up" and allowing nerves and the spinal cord to "relax and breathe" a bit. My surgeon gambled and did not fuse my lower back. If he had, I would have had a 3 level fusion. Instead he removed the entire lamina portion of 2 levels and opened up a third. It has provided tremendous relief.

    Please let us know what your doc has to say on Monday. Don't hesitate to call the answering service again, if you feel it is necessary.

    Kindest regards

  • Hi Debbie,

    I hope after reading some the posts on here you feel a bit better. In my experience the more I worry the more pain I'm in! I find my whole body tenses up and puts pressure on everything. Of course it's easier said then done when it comes to our health. I too have made that phone all to the orthopetic resident on-call due, to me thinking I was going to be paralyzed from the waist down. I have had 2 spine surgies and the pain has been awful! All I can say to you is I understand complety the fear! Talking with my doctor and gaining knowledge was what helped me.

    If you have any more concern's give me a PM I'm here to support...

  • Hi Julie,

    Thank you for your reply. Its very scary and when I woke this morning, I didnt know what to expect. I was praying that it would be gone and that maybe yesterday was a dream... but it wasn't.
    This morning seems to be just a little worse. Maybe its because I'm worrying myself to death over it.
    I already take Nexium for a hiatal hernia that causes severe acid reflux... I'm a mess... lol. Falling apart at the seems, literally.

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  • Thank you all for your replys. I am a nervous wreck. I have always been the active type, or try to be as of late. I have horses, and was an avid rider... not now! My horse are now yard ornaments. I don't think I'll ever ride again. My ortho doctor told me it would not be wise to ride, especially with my neck being in the shape its in. I have 2 deteriorated disks in my neck between C5 - C7. According to him, its pretty much bone on bone. And as you all know, you can surely feel that! Its a feeling that never leaves you. The same for my Lumbar spine. I have 2 disc's that are completely gone.
    My dad had Degenerative Spinal Arthritis. My doctor told me it is genetic, and that is most likely why I have it as well. My dad was a physical mess several years before he died. He was in a wheel chair for years due to his problems. My doctor assured me that I would not have to go through the same, due to all the technology and surgeries that we have now to help repair broken down spines.
    Does anyone know if this is a genetic disease? Does anyone else here have this as well?

    Thank you,
    and many blessings,
  • Thank you... I don't know how long I can take this med. I have a very sensitive stomach and its already making me nauseated. I have to keep something in my stomach pretty much all the time while taking it...
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