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Testing First, Surgery Next

Hello all, 
In one month my doctor wants to preform a EMG in order to understand what we are dealing with.

(Back story: I have had three herniated discs from L3-S1 and minimum three pinching nerves for almost 8 years. I have been on disability leave for 4months. No initial accident. Most lower back pain has subsided while extreme shooting pains in both legs, especially calves, causing my feet to fall asleep after 5-10 minutes of standing. Longer I stand, worse the pain and eventually parts of my feet go numb. After about 10 minutes my toe nails begin to turn purple. I have been in physical therapy for two months and the pain continues to get worse.)

Depending on the results, he will either want to try Spinal Stimulation or do a 2 tier spinal fusion. Anything I should expect? Is the EMG painful? Any questions I should ask? I know I do want to ask if the herniated discs are the actual cause of my feet falling asleep because this was not a problem before we did four ESI's. I'm really nervous for the results, but so incredibly ready for this to be over with. 



  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 996


    The EMG testing is not particularly painful... not that pleasant but also not that big of a deal.  It will help tell the doctor the extent of your nerve damage.  When you did the ESI's that was just hiding the pinched nerve issues... and over time the herniations have casued the nerve roots to become more and more damaged... which now results in your feet falling asleep. The longer you wait for surgery the more likely you will have permanent nerve damage.

    I've never heard of Spinal Stimulation... but fusion surgery can resolve the issue of the herniated discs pressing on your spinal column and nerve roots.  However recovering from fusion surgery is not a quick and easy thing... recovery times vary but for most it's 3-6 months or more.  You might want to ask your doctor if you are a candidate for a discectomy as that is typically a first level surgery before fusion surgery... and the discectomy like the fusion can also relieve the pressure on your nerves... by cutting away the herniated portion of your discs.

    Either way... solving back problems is not a quick and easy process... but you have taken a good first step by coming to this forum and asking questions. You won't find all the answers here but there are a lot of people here who have lived in your shoes and can share their experiences... hopefully that will help in your journey.

    Harry - 65 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,270
    Hello .....
    My EMG was very revealing to my my PM doctor. I did not have any discomfort from the test...but everyone is so individual.
    My first symptom of my spinal issues was my left calf hurting to the point I was limping for months and initially thought it was a blood clot or such.
    My ankles and feet and toes are very painful ..varying degrees...and  often with crazy contortions. I would look at my feet and wonder how it was even possible for them to get into such positions.

    Being on baclofen has helped lessen that pain.
    My PM doctor told me those were symptoms of my lower spine issues.

    My toes will sometimes become discolored, but I also have vascular issues..which is what I blame that on.
    Actually, I don't remember even mentioning the discoloration..purplish..to my doctors. Maybe I should...?

    Curious...what kind of doctor are you working with?

    re spinal cord stimulation, and the EMG test...you may want to use the search, upper right on page.
    There is much information on the medical side of the forum..with articles and videos.
    The videos, with the visual aid, really helps me with understanding. The video library is huge!
    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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