I have been diagnosed with mild diffuse disc bulge and small midline focal disc protrusion at L5-S1. In addition, I have numb toes in my right foot, numbness in the ball of the foot, burning sensation down my right shin (feels like a match is being held to my leg), and good old-fashioned back pain.
The first time I had an MRI (2001), I was sent to a surgeon. He said it was non-surgical and gave me a pamplet on back pain and a bill. Pain continued to worsen and another MRI was done in 2003. Not much change and the same surgeon was abrupt and said non-surgical. When I insisted that I was in a lot of pain, he relented and sent me to a pain specialist.
First the pain specialist did a nerve conduction study and an EMG. He stated that I had severe nerve damage. Then he gave me various drugs (many of which are now supposed to cause heart problems). These did not help much, so we next tried cortisone shots. First one was good, second caused pain to increase. So he suggested no more.
Pain comes and goes, so nothing was done for a while. Suddenly, I had sharp pain on opposite side (right) and went to dr. He put me on heavy steriods, pain killers and sleeping pills. It worked to reduce the immediate pain, but still needed third MRI. No real change noted on MRI.
I have an appointment at the Duke Spine Center.
Finally, my question. What treatments are available? Successes? Failures?
An MRI doesn't always tell the WHOLE story. I am surprised they haven't gone a step further and done a myelogram or a discogram. This is what really showed my problems. Now that I've had a fusion, I feel tremendously better. I had all of the same symptoms you mentioned.
It doesn't sound like your MRI is telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Unfortunately, that happens sometimes. I would bet that Duke will have you do a myelogram and perhaps a discogram as well. Even an MRI with contrast would be more revealing.
Please let us know what the doctors there tell you; perhaps we could all put our heads together and come up with some help for you.
Hang in there. I have and do have all the same things you have. My dr and pain mangament dr have done all the normal things also, pill , shots , PT , ct scans , mri's with & w/o contrast, fasets joint injections under x-ray. I have founf that a drug called Nuronton has helped me with the numbness , 600mg t.i.d., i am scheduled for a lumbar fusion on jan 18th 2005 , for L5 S1 , I guess i would say is never give up on your pain , keep on the dr's , and ask all the questions you can, I read these boards and write down all the stuff i want to ask my dr , I know how you feel and i just want to let you know , with the right dr your pain can be fixed.
Stid... glad the neurontin is helping you. It didn't phase me at all. I was using it for the zingers and was told it took 4 weeks to start working right and then I was suppose to keep bumping up the dosage. After jumping through all the hoops with it, it still never worked. I've heard this happens to many people on Neurontin. Glas you're one of the lucky ones to find success with it.
Thanks for the replies. I forgot to mention in my first post that the pain specialist did a nerve conduction study and an EMG. He stated that I had severe nerve damage. I have appended my original post to reflect this additional information.
I appreciate the support, as my frustration has risen over time with the doctors.
I also have not had any luck with Nuerontin and I also have damaged nerves from the L5/S1 disc area. My problems are pain through my rear end and down my left leg to my heel. So far I havent had much luck with surgery, medication or wishing really hard that it would go away
MicroDiscectomy L5/S1 12/03
Anterior/Posterior Fusion L5/S1 11/04
Rich, you should have some more tests done, as Carol suggested. My second set of MRI's didn't show much except diminished disc space and "blackened" (degenerated) discs, but my docs were very persistent and eventually did a discogram which showed the extent of my problems. Thanks to that, I will be having a fusion Jan. 5 and getting my life back! Good luck, and keep us posted!
I have been taking Neurontin and it has helped my leg pain. The back pain is getting worse, despite PT and multiple pain meds. I am going for an epidural with CT for proper placement. They say they are going in from the side, as opposed to stright in. Hopefully, this will help. Thanks to everyone for the help.