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Lower back pain/burning with numb and tingling feet

Jumbo JetJJumbo Jet Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:01 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hi, a friend steered to this site to help me find some answers. I'll try and keep this as short as possible , yet describe in as much detail as I can.

I am a 39 year old male, last April (2011) I had a sports related injury that gave me a stiff neck for a few days. About a week later my left arm went numb, followed by the right arm a few days later and then a constant burning sensation in between the shoulder blades. At its worst, the numbness would go into my face and nose. I was given a Prednisone pack and I've been pretty good since.

I have refrained from doing the sport that got me injured in the first place since that day. I had a upper neck MRI and everything came back clean. Then one day in August I was laying on the couch and my feet began to tingle, it lasted for a few weeks so I went to see an Orthopedic doc who ordered a lower back MRI. MRI came back pretty clean, except for a slight bulge in my L5/S1, but he didnt think it was enough to cause the symptoms of numbness and tingling. He ordered physical therapy for 3 months, it helped some but still had tingling and bad lower back pain, stiffness and burning, with some numbness in my hips as well.

Fast forward to October 2011, went to Chiropractor and got basic adjustments for about a month and felt great. Went back to the gym to train and two days later I was numb head to toe again. Havent been back since.

December 2011, went to a Neurologist for further testing. He gave man an EMG, which I passed without a problem. He also didnt think the bulge was enough to be causing these symptoms. He requested a brain scan MRI to rule out MS, which came back normal.

Throughout this whole time I continued to do my exercises from PT but the lower back burning and tingling feet continued. I was prescribed Tazinidine(muscle relaxer to help me sleep) and a 750mg anti-inflammatory.

January 2012, went to have a Epidural injection because the burning was driving me nuts. I was more sore than ever after the injection, but I guess that was from the giant needles. After the soreness wore off I felt slightly better, but maybe only 50% better.

March 2012. Had an amazing first couple weeks of March. No pain or tingling to even speak of, and no NSAID at all for two weeks. Felt like new again. Still away from the gym and training though. Then last week I had another flare up, feet tingling again and burning lower back again, with slight tenderness and pain on the balls of my feet. I am coming up on a year of this and am beginning to get a little bummed out and down about all of this. I know I'm not 16 anymore, but this feels like its taking forever to heal, whatever this is.

Both the Ortho and Neurologist agreed that I am not a candidate for surgery, and that this should work itself out in time, but going on a year has me thinking there is worse damage somewhere. I know my body, and I know when something isn't right. I am guessing that the bulge IS causing these symptoms.

I continue to do my exercises and was going to start doing the elliptical. Funny thing for me though, I never had the shooting pains in my butt or down my legs this whole time like other describe with their Sciatic symptoms. Just the lower back burning and tingling feet.

Looking forward to any feedback, and thanks for taking the time to read through this.



  • Jumbo Jet, first of all, glad you found this forum but what a bummer about your situation. In the early stages of diagnosing a problem and coming to a prognosis is usually an ongoing journey. Im glad you made the efforts and are not waiting it out. Ive been on this site about a year but have battled back issues for over 20 years. My two cents is that there is localized back pain that is usually caused by the actual discs or facet joints around them. When the issues issues affecting your extrematies, your nerves have been affected and shows true signs of swelling or disc failure or movement.
    Most important is what you said about knowing when something is not right and how you feel. Its very important to tell your docs about these changes and dont let up or settle for a second when the doc tries to tell you how you are feeling. Most of us spineys including you most likely have had a doctor do the "hhmmm, uuhhhuuummm, o," while looking down with a glazed look in his eye and is really thinking about making sure his Tee time was set.
    Hopefully someone here will chime in with better input to offer, also you may even copy and paste this post to the new members section. You will probably be assited even better as the new folks get the speacial treatment by the members who have been here for years, best or luck!!
    Weight room accident at 18. Had compression fracture and was paralyzed for month until ruptured spinal column healed. At 37 did all the epidurals/blocks. At 38 had two level open lami and Discectomy. At 39 (Sept 2012) had two level ALIF L4-S1 fusion.
  • Hi and welcome.
    Sorry to hear you can't seem to kick the pain 100% but I am not surprised. So many people suffer from back pain and it does get 'worse' as you age. I'm not saying 39 is old but my back pain started in my 20's and would flare up on/off for years.

    Anyhow, I know you think there may be something more wrong but I suspect with all the tests, your doctors have done, it does seem like an aging back. I would not push for surgery, though you may find one day you'll need it. Surgery on the back, especially lower back, is a slippery slope in my opinion because you start messing with the mechanical structure and you'll never be 100% again.

    I hope the PT can help. I found stabalization exercises to keep my core strong is what is most useful. Then, be careful on bending, twisting, lifting techniques.

    I hope others can offer advice. Yes, normally tingling/numbness is a concern but if there is no clear sign of the cause, a doctor would be foolish to offer it.

    Do regular NSAIDS like Advil work? If yes, stick with it. Keep a log of what does/doesn't aggravate your back. I found that helped me refine my activities for year.

    Good luck.
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  • I think most doctors have taken courses on comments that are garunteed to drive a pain patient up the wall....ie, these things have a way of working themselves out EVENTUALLY....those nerves do strange things. My particular favorite is "what do you mean, you still have severe pain? I fixed the problem!!!!! When I had my eigth spinal surgery, six years ago, I was told that I had two more levels that needed to be "fixed" My response was that I would take the problem to my grave and to forget about it.
  • DNice said:

    Do regular NSAIDS like Advil work? If yes, stick with it. Keep a log of what does/doesn't aggravate your back. I found that helped me refine my activities for year.

    Good luck.
    Yes, NSAIDS do help relieve some pain, but I'm worried about the log term affects of taking them for prolonged periods. Im on 750mg of Nabumetone for inflammation, but only take it on the worse days. I do take them with food, but I still worry.

    My Neurologist told me he sees half a dozen people a week in my situation with unexplained numbness and tingling, they pass all the tests and MRI's but still have symptoms. I was told to see a Neurosurgeon, but afraid he will want to push surgery.

    I am going to join a local gym tomorrow and try out the elliptical, which was recommended by a friend who is a surgeon. He said it is one of the best machines for back pain, as it works all the major back muscles.

    I feel fortunate that my symptoms are not as painful as some of the posts I have been reading here, but none the less, I would like to live a day without tingling feet and lower back burning. Getting back to a normal life is top priority for me right now, but even with insurance, MRI's and Neurologists aren't cheap. This has been the most expensive injury of my life.
  • Body can take a very long time to heal, There is always a conflict of opinions even between dr,s about whats best right after a disc having a slight buldge,

    Some believe not doing pt and just rest the disc will let up in time off the nerve and pt can sometimes make it worse, 1 dr will say pt is needed while another will say no excercise at all for now to stop the pressure and help the healing,

    Surgery is the last thing you want to jump in to if its not severe to where surgery is needed, Its not unusual for healing to take up to over a year and even chiro can make the situation worse just as pt persons when many times they make a person worse insted of leaving the person to heal naturaly,

    Geting an opinion from a neurosurgen cant hurt and even if he was to recomend surgery you at least know what your future options are if it never gets beter,

    But many times once they change the natural structure of the spine with invasive surgery some of us are never the same and continue to have further complications,

    Best of luck
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
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  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. AS you look around and read the post you will see varying degrees of members dealing with spinal issues. Don't feel as though your problem isn't is as bad as someone else's and you shouldn't ask and seek answers. The one thing you got right is you are a 110% correct you know your body. With that said, the one thing that pops out is with the numbness coming and going is a leaky disc, and as the disc material leaks it puts pressure on the nerve and then when it lets up is when your numbness goes away. Just a thought of course, which a discogram is what would find that problem. Keep in mind that EMG testing is not a 100% accurate and can lend false positives. While Mri's are very good sometimes the detail is just not there. Speaking of a MRI, maybe a standing MRI would lead to finding more answers than the traditional lying down MRI's. It seems your issues come when you are doing something.

    I know the one thing that helps in locating issues, is to keep a journal of what you were doing at the time, and also to add what makes it better and what makes it worse. That information is what will give the doctors more answers. Given you have only had one ESI, they can actually do 2 more of them. Sometimes it takes the series of three to get the issues under control. When you have numbness, weakness loss of function, your dealing with sometime of nuerologic issues. Because they haven't found the issue, don't give up. My suspicion is that discogram would be the next step. While very painful, it can lead to answers or rule things out.

    Just thought i would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. If I can be of anymore assistance don't hesistate to pm me. Take care and keep us posted as to how you get along.

  • Hi Mark ,sorry to hear you are suffering this way.I myself have similar problems as yourself,I have loss of sensation in the saddle area legs and feet,but yet my doc tells me that my scan results although showing bulging discs at L4,L5,S1 that surgery would not be advisable.I am at present waiting for an appointment to see a neurologist to see if he can shed some light as to why I have such a feeling of numbness in these areas.I had a somewhat similar condition four years back to which a neurologist decided it must be somotoform disorder.my symptoms lasted a year or so the last time and then I recovered but was left with a numbness in my feet.I was hesitant to even go to a doc this time,I have this numbness over two months now and like you I know something is definitely wrong .I fear ms or some other neurological illness and not knowing is mind blowing, my chiropractor moved my tail bone about six weeks ago to see if it would elevate my symptoms but to be honest it made it worse.I have been told just to watch out for bowel and bladder dysfunction which is a medical emergency but my doc doesn't seem too concerned about sexual dysfunction.Trust your gut feeling is my advice I wish I had ,just because you don't fit a shape in a medical box doesn't mean nothing is wrong.I wish you well keep us informed.

  • Hi there,
    I also have an L5-S1 issue...
    regular x-ray/ct and mri showed not much.. just a "slight bulge",
    Fast forward three and a half years.. I knew there was something wrong, still in pain- still not working- still had more dr. appts to travel to and wait for.....thenI find out about the Dynamic MRI machine. it does the testing while you stand and sit... and showing compression in the spine. wouldn't you know it... yup, had a large herniation with some pushing on my nerve, causing.. tingles in feet/balls of feet, sore hip, extreme zaps of pain that take my breathe away.
    Just had my first ESI shot- it helped about 30% so far.. I am happy with the results and pray it stays the same with continued improvement.
    I have an odd motto--- "i am a perfect cookie- just need to find the right ingredients"... so... I try all I can do to learn about my injury and how to help myself.
    Good luck to you in your journey... and so glad you found this site.. it took me a few years to find it! I love this site!!!!!!!!!
  • Hello all, and I do feel for everyone here and wish the utmost best to all. None of us should have to endure for years like we do. I had a 4 level fusion 16 months ago at the lowest disks in the back (sorry not an expert in levels). Had my first laminectomy when I was 28 and now at 49 I am in misery like the rest of you....

    Im on STD from extreme saddle burning and hydorcodone is the only thing that stops it. I have been diagnosed with neuropathy, post laminectomy syndrome, Cervical disc displacement and Brachial Neuritis.

    I am seeing my third Neuro Surgeon on Monday and hope that he can help me make it to LTD. What I have after 3 laminectomies and 1 four level fusion and one CSF Leak repair the following week is pain.

    I take some soma and valium at times for the neck pain but it does not relieve much at all. I hope we can all find our way to relief in quick fashion. Best to all. You are all correct about the great support here. Now if the insurance companies would be as helpful that would be even a bigger relief.
  • I do have been dealing with some serious back pain. A couple years I hurt my back back landscaping, it's been downhill since. Mid back, up into my me neck area. Low back. Pain in my tailbone and feet. I've tried Cymbalta and lyrica. But I've given up on both due to side affects. I've seen doctors, neurologists, and pain clinics with injections. I get no relief. Sitting down is un heard of. The pain is excruciating. From my tailbone up to my neck. Advil alleve or pretty much anything over the counter doesn't work but i'm done taking medication. The MRI did say herniated L5 S1. I'm also dealing with a lot of SI pain. I will get burning mid section when lying on back and numbness in my Pinky fingers. Physio. Chiro, osteopath. I've tried it all to only irritate my symptoms more. Maybe I need to stop everything and let it heal. I haven't stopped doing stuff to heal my back since the day I hurt it. Maybe I just keep aggregating it. Any help please
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