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Blown disk, sciatica, injections etc.

Hello fellow back pain sufferers. I just had a couple of questions but let me do quick rundown of situation.

I have suffered unexplained bouts of mild to severe lower back pain for many many years now. I attributed to having 6 children and not having a strong core, and poor lifting/bending skills at work (plant nursery...lots of picking things up and putting down from ground. I am 42.

About 2-3 years ago they did an MRI on me and showed degenerative disk at L5-S1....it looked black on the photo as opposed to the white where normal disc material was. And they said slight bulge. My symptoms continued...fine for a few weeks, wake up in pain for a few weeks etc...

Then this past December I had sudden numbness in my leg, excruciating sciatic pain, foot drop etc. At first I thought it might go away but it worsened rapidly...within a few weeks I was in for another MRI. This one, less than 2 years after the last one, showed a MAJOR disc herniation which was pressing on sciatic nerve bundles and causing the pain but also a 25% spinal stenosis. It mentioned that it was primarily the left but could effect the right leg as well. At that time ALL THE PAIN WAS LEFT SIDE. So, I scheduled a cortisone shot. WOWOWWOW!!! For 3 1/2 months I felt great. The numbness, limp, all of it gone.

NOW: it came back, but totally on the right side only, lower back and upper leg into the hip. I have another shot scheduled. If that wears off they say I am perfect candidate for surgery. You could see the large "mushroom" of disc material on my MRI. I could see why picking that junk out would send relief!

QUESTIONS: OK, I am on opiate pain killers and they can make me super constipated. I am noticing a pattern: after a couple of days with no BM, it gets so painful I feel I can barely move, or walk. When I have a BM, that night I sleep the most pain free. RELATED???

JUST BEFORE I had the pain and numbness begin in my left leg, like a week or so before, I began having pain and numbness (first time ever) in my left arm...I went to doc who suspected pinched nerve in the neck and gave me prednisone. It cleared pretty quickly but then the leg pain started immediately...RELATED????

And finally, why would the pain switch from one side to the other??

Thanks everyone. This has been hell and I have a new respect and empathy for anyone I see limping...I know how painful this is. My co worker said "I have that and I deal with that everyday" yeah right lady....how can I "deal" with it when I CANT WALK????
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  • LizLiz Posts: 9,745
    i am sure that you will find your time on spine-health very rewarding. this site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
    here are just some of the highlights:

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    - under the resource tab, there is a section doctor advice health center which can be invaluable.

    - as a bonus, spine-health provides these patient forums. here is where you can meet thousands of other people who understand and can relate to your situation. you will soon become part of the spiney family who provide comfort and the advantages of a support system. you are now part of this family that is approximately 20,600 international members and growing daily.

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    here are some you should take a look at:
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    all of this will help make your threads better and improve the times and quality of responses you will receive.

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    Liz, 

    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Thank you for the welcome! I hope that was a generic letter to show me around and that I didn't do anything to violate any rules! I will go read...thx
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  • LizLiz Posts: 9,745
    A welcome and a little help so you can make the most of the site

    Liz, 

    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • PamhoffcaPPamhoffca Posts: 163
    edited 07/19/2013 - 2:58 PM
    Hi Plantymum, before my 7/12 surgery, I also noticed that I felt worse In my tailbone area when it had been 3+ days since my last poop. I know that sounds weird....but I would be miserable. The pain killers do a number on our colons. I had tried everything...prunes, prune juice, stool softeners, laxatives, mineral oil enema. The thing that helps most is taking about 2 stool softeners a day, about 500 mgs of magnesium tablets and using a suppository to get things going. You just need to experiment with things. The magnesium was my magic pill. Oh, and plenty of water too.

    Is your doctor recommending surgery at this point? Your pain sounds about as bad as it gets.
    Pam
    CA Wife and Mom, 55, L5-S1 Microdiscectomy on 7/12/13
  • Hello!

    Welcome to the forums! I had a L5/S1 MIS TLIF (minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion) on 5/1/13 after 4 years of debilitating left leg and buttock pain/weakness that was left undiagnosed. In October, 2012 I finally saw an orthopedic- found out that I had severe spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, pars defect and large paracentral herniation at the L5/S1 level which was pressing on my sciatic nerve in 2 spots... the exit of L5 and the entrance of S1. After many medicines, physical therapy and 3 epidural injections, I had NO relief and was scheduled for the surgery. About a week before my surgery, the pain started down my right leg and my surgeon said that was common and he was glad that I was getting the surgery. Now, being almost 3 months out of surgery I feel GREAT... yes some pain and weakness in my lower back but that is really it. The pain went away in my legs immediately and my surgeon is seeing that the weakness in my feet is getting better! I see him on Tuesday, and am excited to see if he thinks all is going on course! Oh and I am 26... ;)

    What is your doctor recommending at this point?
    Olivia Douglass
    MIS TLIF L5/S1 on 5/1/13
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  • PamhoffcaPPamhoffca Posts: 163
    edited 07/21/2013 - 4:02 PM
    Olivia...that is so good to hear!!! Those of us still in recovery cannot always see the lite at the end of this tunnel. I hope my outcome is as good :)
    CA Wife and Mom, 55, L5-S1 Microdiscectomy on 7/12/13
  • Pamhoffca said:
    Olivia...that is so good to hear!!! Those of us still in recovery cannot always see the lite at the end of this tunnel. I hope my outcome is as good :)
    I am nowhere near the end of recovery but am getting there little by little. The true test will be the CT scan at a year after surgery to see how far along in the fusion I am.... so far so good in my doctor's eyes though. I get discouraged sometimes with my inability to do things like bend over and lift things but I have to get used to that being a normal part of my daily life :(. I see the surgeon tomorrow and hope for some good news! :)

    Good luck in the rest of your recovery!!
    Olivia Douglass
    MIS TLIF L5/S1 on 5/1/13
  • Olivia, just curios. How do you get to the point of needing a fusion? In my case, it was a herniated disc. Is there a possibility that in years to come, my back could progress to needing a fusion? Is a fusion done when there is no more disc material left?
    Pam
    CA Wife and Mom, 55, L5-S1 Microdiscectomy on 7/12/13

  • I think there must surely be that link the constipation and pain worsening. I have been off a few weeks and I can sure feel my body de conditioning (well as conditioned as I was). My primary said lets do surgery asap. BUT...even though it sure looks like it works, my years of intermittent pain will probably still be there? AND the shot back in February held until mid June, it was on my left leg but the left leg never has really hurt again...just the right know. So, hoping this will fix it all up.

    And then I want one in my middle finger I wake up stiff, swollen and "locked". So a cortisone there...then I was thinking about a series all across my lower back.and one in my jaw for occasional TMJ (been awhile though knock on wood)..and maybe one where my ingrown nail grows...LOLOL...just making fun of how much I am sure we all hate hurting...seems like its one after a next sometimes when you go through unhealthy bit of time, huh?

    When it comes to pain I can be such a baby...kicked and screamed through all 6 kids births! So when they say how high is it on a 1-10 or the little happy/sad face....I know this hurts,.....but in comparison to some things, like childbirth, it isn't THAT painful..

    How are YOU doing from your surgery?? You are probably out surfing while I type?
  • Pamhoffca said:
    Olivia, just curios. How do you get to the point of needing a fusion? In my case, it was a herniated disc. Is there a possibility that in years to come, my back could progress to needing a fusion? Is a fusion done when there is no more disc material left?
    Pam
    Pam-- in my situation I had much more than just a herniated disc including a fracture (pars defect), spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease and the herniation. My surgeon said that the pars defect was what warranted the fusion- that if he were to do a laminectomy or discectomy, the disc would just herniate again because my spine wasn't stable- therefore, he had to remove the entire disc and replace it and then stabilize my spine to prevent that from happening. He also said that since I was young and wanted to have kids, I would just re-herniate the disc in that olympic event (that's what he called childbirth) and potentially injure my back more than it was. I guess it all depends on your situation, and what issues your surgeon see as the most detrimental to make the decision to fuse or not to fuse.
    Olivia Douglass
    MIS TLIF L5/S1 on 5/1/13
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