I had a laminectomy about 5 years ago where they took out the portion of the disk that was herniated. I was told at that time that I had stenosis also. I tried going back to work 4 times but could not stand a half hour without pain and pressure in my low back, hips, and legs so I had to quit. I also get pain if I sit too long, and this seems to be getting worse. A month ago I was on a trip and had to walk 17 blocks to get back to the train, a few days later, I was limping and could barely walk for a solid week. I went to the doc and he took x-rays ( which I already know do not show soft tissue ) and he said he thought it was in my muscles and gave me meds etc. and told me to come back if it didn't get better. I now have been having problems about once a week since then. I woke one morning so stiff and in pain in my low middle back that I had to lay in bed for about 5 hours and could barely move. When I did get up, I was limping and in more pain. It was a hard ache, no shooting pains like when I had the herniation, and it went down my legs slightly aching. I have not recovered from this, the ache has just moved up to the middle of my back and I am bent and limping still. I am trying to get into the doctor now. Does this sound like a disk problem or stenosis or something else? I have been reading all I can but the symptoms of some of the problems sound the same so it is confusing. Thanks for any info.
Diagnosing problems of the back IS confusing. Don't feel bad at about. Your pain symptoms indicate a spine issue to me with possible soft tissue involvement. Since you have "history", you indeed need to get further diagnosis from your doctor. Only this time, tell that doctor that it's been X amount of weeks now and I am no better, in fact, Im worse. Ask and somewhat insist on an MRI to see what is going on in there. OR, ask for a referral to an orthopod. A spine surgeon is best, but this early on just for getting an MRI/diagnosis..can be a regular GP that's good or an ortho.
Let us know how you are doing. I hope you get some relief soon.
"believe in the beauty of your dreams"- E. Roosevelt
L5/S1 bulging @ 18, now 46; still there (but no pain)
Fusion at L4/L5 Apr -2006
Solidly Fused Nov-2006
A Success, but still improving!
Hi Kasey, I can't tell you what is wrong with your back, only a doctor can. But I can tell you how back felt and what my doctor said to me. You said you have stenosis, is it in your lower lumbar? I have stenosis in my lumbar. I also have degenerative disk disease, and scoliosis. My lower back for years hurt me if I stood too long, felt like hard pressure or I had jarred my back. If I sat too long being really stiff. Have more of a constant ache in the lower back. I had some good days and some not so good days. My Doc said degenerative disc disease and stenosis where causing this pain. Have you had an MRI done? What kind of doctor did you see? I saw a neurosurgeon for this pain ( finally after 13 years of pain ). I had a 2 level fusion and 3 discs replace 12/12/06. So hopefully after recovery from surgery I can get my life back and do the things I have not been able to do for a number of years now. Hope this helps you, sorry for your back pain.
It sounds like it is the stenosis to me (but then I am not a doctor) and only a MRI/CT scan will show if it involves discs. I have lumbar stenosis and I actually find some relief standing up and leaning over a counter or pushing an EMPTY grocery cart of all things. Be careful with picking anything up and definitely get in to see a spinal surgeon/neurosurgeon.
Sounds like stenosis to me too. Please see a spine specialist. In my case, the XRay, MRI and CT scans didn't really show anything dramatic either - at least to the non-specialists...the radiologists interpret the images, the GPs just read the reports. I know the system makes you go through all the hoops (Xray, CT, MRI) first but I've just wasted 5mths of my, previously very active, life waiting for the correct diagnosis.
My symptoms are similar. Generalised leg cramps with intermittant shooting pains and eventual foot/calf numbness when standing and walking and in some positions, sitting. Somtimes back pains, sometimes not. I tried to battle on too, by going into work in the pain-free mornings (I usually lasted til lunchtime) - I did 3 months of this before I decided the pain just wasn't worth it. I also had that one, final straw, long walk (cos the trams were on strike) that had me in tears and in pain for days. Mine also started off being very episodic over a year ago - once a month or so, usually lasting for 2-3 days, then it was once a fornight, then weekly. When it became daily, and the symptoms more severe (5mins before onset, sometimes less, pain when sitting upright aswell as when standing and walking, sciatica-shooting pains in the evenings regardless, occasional days of back spasms if its been bad the day before) I finally went to see the GP.
XRay showed a v.straight spine (also interpreted as due to muscle pains) and a slightly narrowed disc space (nothing unusual). MRI and CT (2 mths later after prescribed anti-inflammatories and light physical therapy did naff all) both showed mild disc problems and I was advised to give it a more time, as often a disc herniation will get better on its own. It wasn't til I saw the spinal neurosurgeon, (who actually listened to my symptoms properly and made his own interpretation of the scans, rather than just reading the reports), that I got a proper diagnosis - not the discs at all but foraminal narrowing (a form of stenosis) and nerve compression (and consequently a huge swollen nerve) due to a slightly malformed joint, that's been going all my life. I'm now just waiting for corticoid injections. Apparently, if it works and gets the nerve back to normal, this can take effect pretty fast and be long-term, so if I'd had this diagnosis earlier, I could have been spared so much pain and not had 2-3 months off work. (If it doesn't work, its surgery, but at least I'd have had this sooner).
Good luck with getting this diagnosed, and as the french say "bon courage" (or as we say, "hang-in there") .
With my lumbar stenosis, I developed really severe neurogenic claudication. It felt like a very deep, intense, burning, cramp-like pain in my lower spine, down into both sides of my rear, and down the backs of my thighs. It was a different feeling than the sciatica pains, which were more sharp & stabbing.
That claudication was due to the nerves in my spinal canal and surrounding blood vessels being compressed. I also had bad muscle spasms. This would happen any time I tried to stand up straight and forget about bending backwards....that would bring me to my knees. The only time I got relief was leaning my body on top of a shopping cart or sitting down & bending forward.
Do you find any relief if you bend over? Or does the pain feel worse if you bend backwards?
Were you ever told what type of stenosis you have and what exactly it was caused by? Some are caused by discs pressing into different types of nerves and some are caused by bony overgrowth. I had 2 centrally herniated discs plus alot of spurs and bony overgrowth also inside the vertebrae, plus a long ligament that runs up and down the spine was buckling into my canal. All this transpired for me over 3 1/2 years time until I could no longer walk.
I cannot say what is causing your pain but it's possible it could be claudication. I also think you should see a spine specialist and have an MRI done.
For me, apart from lying down, squatting is the ultimate relief. Interestingly, my (french) surgeon, when explaining it all to me and my partner, squatted down in front of us and said "zeess is what zee peeple do" and my boyfriend actually shouted "yes, yes, she does exactly that!". He went on to explain that if you ever see people in the supermarket crouched down looking at the bottom shelf, they're generally not after a tin of peas but have classic claudication!
Thankyou so much to all of you. I was also told I had DDD and yes, the problem is lumbar again. I had my surgery at L 4-5. And my appointment coming up is with an ortho., so I am sure an MRI will be ordered, or I will insist on one. Is a neuro a spine specialist? I am going to ask to be referred back to Rochester where I had my surgery before as they are swimming with specialists. This back stuff has been throughout my life and is just getting worse again, but I am so glad somebody here can relate and tell me atleast what it may be. I always read with stenosis, sitting helped, it used to, and is not anymore, that's the part that's been confusing me, I get very stiff, low back ache, having trouble standing up, and limp when I walk. Do any of you get disability? I applied a month ago and know I cannot even work part time at a sit down job, just sitting too long now makes it worse. I put off going to the doc because I know what I will go through again, I will keep you posted. These boards are a huge help. thankyou for being here.
Yep, I do have problems sitting too, but not originally (only since it got more severe after a year or so of intermittant problems and I was still trying to push through it). Generally, it depends on the seat (sitting upright is worst, bum lower than legs best. Don't like seats where I haven't enough bum space, or when my legs are swinging = a bar stool is the equivalent of standing for me). Basically, it just depends. I've had train journeys that are hell, but others that are not too bad. In the evenings, it really makes no difference on the seat/sofa. It just hurts!
When I too couldn't sit at my desk for long, that was about the point when I stopped working (I'm just on standard paid sick leave, but I've no idea on the US systems, I'm in France). Its been a little better since I've been off work -if I don't do anything its mildish until the evenings. If I do do something, at least I can lie down comfortably for a couple of hours afterwards. Any days where I do anything (visit to the masseur, trip to the shops, bit of housework/cooking), even if I stop before it gets too sore, I still pay for it for the rest of the day. As everyone says...this isn't something that will go away on its own, it'll just get gradually worse. The more you push it, the faster you deteriorate.
Hope all goes well with your appointment and you get something sorted soon.