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Old 12-22-2012, 06:55 AM   #1
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Disc Fragment-Experiences?

Hello all...I've been around the board for a few months. I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who has dealt with a herniated disc that has a fragment (or sequestered) portion broken away and pressing/impinging a nerve.

I have been trying for the last year to avoid surgery. In early 2012, I got about 95% better after 3 injections and PT. However, as much as I have strengthened my core, and continually kept up with exercises to help with muscle imbalances, etc., even though I got better, one move could take me weeks back to where I started. In Sept 2012 I was startled and twisted, and within a couple of weeks pain returned and numbness set in. I learned from MRI and consult with spine surgeon that I have:

*severe compression of S1 nerve root from L5/S1 herniation that has fragmented. I have other things such as osteoarthritis, but this framented herniation appears to be the greatest issue causing my symptoms.

Last week I ended up in emergency with indescribable pain, inability to walk, etc. I have decided that microdiscectomy is my only choice at this point, but given the holidays it will be late Jan. before that will take place.

In the meantime, while severe pain has diminished likely from the intraveneous predinizone and other medications, I am fearful of exercise, but I am also fearful of not doing anything for the next few weeks until I can have surgery. I currently have numbness everywhere along the S1 nerve root (as noted on a dermatome map) and weakness has increased. I can no longer lift myself on toes on my left (afflicted side) and I have a bit of a limp.

I've had numbness since late September, but after most recent onset from a simple squat to pick up something from floor, numbness and weakness is worse.

Does anyone have a very similar experience? Should I continue to exercise and do traction?(I had recently been prescribed a home traction unit) Or should I only try to walk? (With the winter weather even that is a challenge outside). I use an infared heating pad which helps and am taking ibuprofen until I see the surgeon in Jan. I'm so afraid of making things worse. My OD said I could do home exercise, but what does that mean? I fear he isn't sure either.

Any help or experiences appreciated.
(Thanks already to teteri66 for helping with understanding of my most recent MRI. :-))

 
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Old 12-23-2012, 01:46 PM   #2
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Re: Disc Fragment-Experiences?

Hello,

So sorry for all the pain you are having to suffer! I went through something very similar several years ago. I can't remember the exact level now, but it was either L4/L5 or L5/S1. I had surgery and about 5 months later I suddenly woke up at night and had to get up out of bed and almost fell because I had NO feeling in my entire left leg/foot. And then the PAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG!!!!! I couldnt' sit, stand, or lay down, it was excruciating. I felt like someone took a knife and sliced open my left leg and was pouring rubbing alcohol up and down my entire left l5 nerve. The pain was beyond anything I could ever imagine. I went back to my surgeon and he got me checked extremely quickly and set my up for a nerve block within days. It turned out that I had either scar tissue or disc matter lodged in a lateral recess and it completely compressed the nerve running through it. Luckily for me, I had the nerve block done quickly, and they were able to flush the tissue out of the area when they injected the steroids into that area. It actually flushed it right out. It helped and relieved my severe pain quickly. If it hadn't flushed out, then I probably would have had to have a procedure to remove it. That was literally the absolute worst pain I ever had, I could barely walk either. I couldnt even lay down, sit, or stand. It was awful, so I completely know what you are going through. That pain is so bad that you almost lose your mind;

If you are in THAT much pain and it's been some time, you might want to consider having a procedure to have it removed. I know if my nerve block didn't work, I would have had a procedure done. There was no way I could go on any longer in that condition. It's completely up to you, though, you have to decide what you think is best for your situation.

 
Old 12-23-2012, 03:05 PM   #3
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Re: Disc Fragment-Experiences?

HI Baybreeze,

Thanks for your response. Did you have surgery for a herniated disc? While I havnen't had the surgery yet, I do identify with the pain you are describing. I can barely think about it now.

Actually, they gave me so many medications, including prednizone, intraveniously, that the horrific pain finally calmed. It's been one week, and I still ache some but it is nothing in comparison. I had a new MRI the following day, and I'm just so afraid of moving much given I know that fragment can do what it wants. My numbness increased and now I am not able to lift off my toes on my left leg. I'm worried a bit about having to wait to get it removed now.

I hope you never have to go through that again. Are you ok now?

 
Old 12-23-2012, 07:35 PM   #4
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Re: Disc Fragment-Experiences?

I had surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis at several levels due to bone overgrowth (Osteophytes), multiple herniations, a tear, and thickening and buckling of the ligamentum flavum into my spinal canal. So they did multi-level laminectomies, several discectomies, and several other things all at once. I had a lot of compression from many things. So all this tissue caused scar tissue and also weakened my spine some since a lot of bone was cut away. A few months after surgery is when I woke up with the numb leg/foot and severe sciatica. After having mris - regular and post-contrast, they found tissue lodged in the lateral recess and that tissue was either scar tissue or disc material (I also had another torn disc). My surgeon set me up right away with his group's pain managemet doc to get a nerve block. They did the block right where the tissue was lodged, went in from the side, and tried to flush out the lodged tissue with the injections...and thankfully it worked.

However, I still have spinal stenosis and also have it bad in my neck. My surgeon even said having the surgery can increase the chance of worsening stenosis above and below the surgical levels, and it can also come back where I had my surgery. Unfortunately, this is what happened...it keeps coming back and getting worse in other areas. However, I'm still not as bad as I was before surgery. I also keep getting herniations all over the place.....and I actually went to physical therapy for a whole year and still do most of the exercises when it's not too painful. My only options are surgery again.

I'm glad that the injections helped you a lot....the steroids are the only thing that helps my nerve pain tremendously. Pain killers don't help my nerve pain at all.

I think if your numbness has increased, you should let your doctor know and maybe discuss all of your possible options. If it's just one disc, you might be able to have minimally invasive surgery. Tiny incision and much shorter healing time. I also know it's not good to have numbness for too long, since the nerves can get damaged so definitely go back to your doctor, and you might even want to at least get a consultation with a surgeon....at least to see your options.

 
Old 12-24-2012, 05:27 AM   #5
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Re: Disc Fragment-Experiences?

You have been through a lot. But at least you are better than before surgeries. That is what I am hopeful for as well. I had 4 ESI injections this year, but I think it was in Sept. when the disc actually became fragmented. In late Sept. was the first time I developed numbness along the S1 nerve route. It got a little better after my October ESI. The pain was much better. But...a simple squat thinking I was protecting my back has now ...2 times...thrown me back into incredible pain. So, at this time, all the medications helped and I'm just trying to carefully pass the time until I can see the surgeon again. In Nov. he said if I proceeded with surgery it would be microdiscectomy. The most recent MRI shows the same issues although I think I also have a problem with facet joints being inflamed and I'm having more back/hip pain I think from that. Yesterday I went ahead and did a few exercises knowing I will just stop if it hurts. I think I am getting stiff from having exercised so much and then none at all.

I have often read that 6 months is the timeline...so it will be 4 months of numbness that got better and then worse by the time I see the doctor. It will also be 1 month at that time that I started to experience weakness and could no longer lift off my left foot. So given the holiday, I am praying it hasn't been too long by the time I can get this done.

Thanks for your information and Merry "Pain Free" Christmas to you!

 
Old 12-24-2012, 06:35 AM   #6
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Re: Disc Fragment-Experiences?

Those timelines are just . In reality, I don't think doctors have any idea what may end up causing permanent nerve damage. People trained in Chinese medicine will tell you that a nerve can continue to get better years after the initial injury...and I have found that to be the case with the numbness in my feet...which began to get numb in 2000. After my last surgery in 2010, I have noticed improvement. I don't expect them to ever return to "normal," but the situation is still changing.

Waiting a couple more weeks shouldn't be a big problem for you. In any case, it does no good to worry about it since you can't get in any sooner for surgery.

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

 
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Old 12-24-2012, 06:41 AM   #7
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Re: Disc Fragment-Experiences?

I do remember reading that in a post you placed; numbness that gets better...and still changing for you. That does help me feel encouraged. I'll get through it, I know. :-)

Thanks and a Merry Christmas to you as well!

 
Old 12-24-2012, 09:42 AM   #8
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Re: Disc Fragment-Experiences?

So sorry about that. It's awful when you start feeling better and all you do is cough, sneeze, or move a little and you're suddenly in excruciating pain again. I definitely feel for you. I really hope that the numbness and pain do get better while you are waiting to see your surgeon. I had a lot of numbness too, one time for about 3 months, but it did get better. A microdiscectomy is definitely a minimally invasive surgery, so hopefully that will do the trick for you....and you won't have to be out of commission for months while you heal. You do still have to be very careful afterwards....even more careful....especially not to bend, twist, etc..

 
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