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Herniated Disc / Root Nerve

misterkatamarimmisterkatamari Posts: 51
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:50 AM in Lower Back Pain
So I finally saw my neurologist again today. He did an EMG test on me (because he acted like getting an MRI was pointless at first.) After the test he said I had some nerve irritation in my back and that he had to conduct the calculations to know more, but that he also wanted me to get an MRI. Luckily, I had already had one done regardless of his first opinion, so he got the results quickly.

I felt pretty ok about what he told me, thinking maybe it wasn't anything serious. Then when I got home his office called me and the secretary was like, "We got your MRI results...and seems you have a herniated disc pressing against your nerve root which requires surgery..."

So now I have to wait for them to call me back with some neurosurgeons and appointments for consultation.

Just the way they said 'requires surgery' sorta bothered me. Not 'might need' or 'should see a surgeon'.

On one hand I'm glad they have sort of pin pointed what is causing all this pain...on the other I'm a little bummed that it had to actually be this. I'm not going to get too upset until I know the facts and talk with the surgeon. No need to worry about it in the mean time really.

I do wish I had something that helped with the pain more. I don't expect the pain to be GONE, no way, I just wish it could be helped a little.

Also, I'm going to my PCP soon but I was just wondering...what exactly is the difference between a herniated disc normally and when it is pressing against a nerve root? Is a nerve root different than what it normally can hurt? To me it seems like the nerve root is a bigger nerve that the others branch out from, is that pretty much correct?

So yeah...I hope I can get some help for this.


  • Hi Misterkatamari,

    I guess you can call it good news as at least they now know what is causing your pain. It is a bummer that it may involve surgery. But you are doing the right thing by not getting to upset till you see a surgeon and get all the details. Do you have a date yet on when this might be. Look in the FAQ section and you will find a article preparing to meet with a spine surgeon. Do yourself diligence and be prepared to discuss what all your options are for surgery and what happens if surgery was not performed. Also be sure to have all your records with you, even if someone says they are going to send them. That way you know the information is there for the surgeon. I would also recommend that you get a second opinion about the surgery. Be sure to research the surgeon and his/her credentials. There are some articles here that give good ideas on how to research a surgeon. Good luck and keep us posted on what the surgeon has to say.
  • From my understanding, your spine holds bundles of nerve fibers (just like a fiber optic communications system), these nerves exit the spine and go to their final destination. In your case you have a disc bulge which is impinging on the point where one of the nerves exits the spine.

    Depending what level the impingement is will make a difference on the symptoms. I had one at L5/S1 and had my entire leg go limp. When you get to this point (and it sounds like you have) it is not a case of IF you have surgery but WHEN.
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  • Most often surgery is recommended if more conservative measures do not relieve your symptoms. Surgery is performed to remove the herniated disc, and free up space around the compressed nerve. Depending on the size and location of the herniated disc, and associated problems (such as spinal stenosis, arthritis, etc.), the surgery can be done by several techniques. In very straightforward cases, endoscopic or microscopic excision of the herniated disc may be possible. However, this is not always recommended, and in some cases, a more significant surgery may need to be performed.
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