I was diagnosed with a small herniated disc at l4/l5 and a larger herniated disc at l5/S1 11 years ago. I had some PT and one epidural injection. Since then I have led a normal life with really no restrictions. I am now 27 years old and injured my back lifting a very heavy object. I immediately felt back pain and my right foot went numb. I figured it was no big deal and a flare up from the previous injury.
However, it's been a little over three weeks now and while the pain has improved alot in my back (I used to have pain even laying down, but now I am pretty comfortable laying down), I have numbness (which just started this week) that comes and goes in between my buttocks, sometimes just on the left side of the buttocks, sometimes the I feel numbness down the right hamstrings, and sometimes numbness in both heels, and sometimes numbness in my pinky toe on the right foot. The numbness usually doesn't last too long but comes like 3-4 times a day, usually after I start walking for a few minutes from a seated position. My back feels really tight. Throughout the day I get little pins and needles feelings randomly down my right leg, which lasts only a second or two at a time. I've been doing alot of research for herniated discs and it seems my symptoms are a little different, as in the numbness, pain, and pins feelings in my legs last only for short periods of time but come and go throughout the day. I also find it weird that sometimes I get numbness in both legs or buttocks at a time, and then other times numbness just in the right leg. I remember when I first injured my back 11 years ago only the right leg was affected. I have not gotten a repeat MRI, but am getting physical therapy. I am able to walk, I am also able to walk on my heels and toes.
My questions/concerns are -
Do you think this is just a flare up of the previous injury?
How long does something like this take to heal?
I work in a physically demanding profession at times (right now I'm only light duty) and because I have my whole career and life ahead of me, I really don't want an MRI and my job to find out about my previous back injury. Your thoughts would be very helpful!!
I think it could be related to the previous problem with your spine. I really think you need to be seen by an orthopedist or neurosurgeon to be evaluated and by that I mean diagnostic testing such as x-rays; mri &/or ct scan. The numbness concerns me and needs to be addressed.
Not sure I can tell you that it will go away over time or not. It needs to be checked out and either be treated with medications such as anti inflammatories or some proper physical therapy. Please have it checked out.
Since you have not been dealing with chronic pain, one could assume that the same disc herniation healed on its own years ago. I would imagine you have reherniated one or both of these discs and it is more involved this time, to the point that you have more nerve involvement. The pain you describe sounds like a S1 distribution.
Sometimes when the disc herniates in the central region, it causes pain in one leg, the other leg, or both legs at the same time. Another cause for pain switching sides is when there is an instability in a spinal segment. This is called spondylolisthesis and it occurs when one vertebra slips over the top of the adjacent vertebra...and it happens most frequently at L5-S1.
If your symptoms do not resolve within a month, I think you'll have to visit a spine specialist for a proper evaluation. Particularly if your job involves physical work, it will be important to know the limitations of your spine before you do something that really messes it up.
hi, I would avoid any twisting/turning of the back and of course lifting. You do need an updated MRI to see what's going on. Try checking out a dermatone chart and see if you can pin point your pain level. They can be very helpful.
There are meds out there to help with the numbness and pins and needles, neurotin, lyrica, topomax but I'd first want to know what is up. I'd definitely continue PT strengthening your core. Maybe get an epidural to calm things down. Or if you can't do that you can take oral steriods. Hubby did that and it helped.
When at home and you have to get things done try wearing a soft brace (you can get them at most drug stores) to protect your back. Don't wear it all the time it will weaken your core. I've had back problems in the past and I wear one when working in the yard and stuff to remind me how to bend and lift.
It does sound like S1 but check out that chart. Cathy