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Back Problems Message Board


Back Problems Board Index


Hi all. I've been lurking for awhile, but now I need some advice.

In December 1998 I had a microdiscectomy at L4-5 for what my neurosurgeon at the time claimed was the "largest herniation he'd ever seen." The surgery was only chosen after my right leg had gone numb from the knee down. I was relatively pain free for a couple of years after, but started having pain and numbness again towards the end of 2001. I had another MRI in the beginning of 2002 and the neurosurgeon I saw then (a different one) said I had 5 bulging discs, but I never received a copy of the films and she didn't tell me where they were. Her advice to me -- lose weight and wear sensible shoes. For that and other reasons, I did lose 70 lbs in 2002 and am within an acceptable BMI to this day. I was laid off my job in Jan 2003, and my insurance was discontinued. The pain, however, did not discontinue.

My general symptoms up until a couple of Sundays ago were numb arms (both) when awakening from sleep, lower back pain stiffness, numb right toe, and intermittent sciatica down both legs.

A couple of Sundays ago, I was leaning into my trunk and I felt an excruciating pain in the middle of my back and I lost control of my legs and fell down. My boyfriend was with me and helped me up, but thereafter I couldn't stand up straight and walking was extremely difficult. When I did walk, the toes on my left and right feet went numb. I was in pain whether I was walking or sitting.

I went to the doctor and for some reason she ordered C spine in addition to L and T spine MRIs. Here are what the reports said:

General C1-C7: Some straightening of the normal cervical lordosis.
C4-5, mild diffuse disc bulge lateralizing slightly to the right.
C5-6, small central and left-sided disc herniation slightly indenting the ventral aspect of the spinal cord.
C6-7, small central and right-sided disc herniation slightly indenting the ventral aspect fo the spinal cord.
T6-7, moderate size midline focal disc extrusion (herniation) extending superiorly from the disc which is causing compression of the anterior aspects of the thecal sac but no significant effect on the thoracic cord. No disk narrowing.
T8-9, small midline focal disc protrusion causing slight impression on the anterior aspect of the thecal sac but no significant effect on the thoracic cord. No disk narrowing.
T9-10, small right sided focal disc extrusion (herniation) causing mild compression on the right anterior aspect of the thecal sac but no significant effect on the thoracic cord. No disk narrowing.
T10-T12, Schmorl's nodes in inferior end-plate of vertebral body of T12, T10, and T11.
L2-3, mild disc desiccation.
L4-5, mild diffuse disc bulge and desiccation. (previous discectomy at this level).

Since in 1998 I had seen a neurosurgeon following my MRIs (on referral from my then primary care physician - an osteopath), I made an appointment with a neurosurgeon this time to discuss any implications of the above. I don't really know what any of it means (any interpretation you might have would be appreciated). However, the doctor I saw this morning was extremely dismissive. He asked why I was there, and I told him. He basically said while there was disc degeneration at several levels, there's no evidence of problems that would cause the symptoms I was describing! He said I should have made an appointment with a neurologist. The experience was horrible. For years I've lived with pain/numbness and just accepted it as an everyday part of life. Now I had these reports that I thought would explain it and once and for all show that this isn't all in my head. And he basically said it was! Again, horrified. I just can't get over it. Has anyone else had an experience like this? Was it stupid of me to schedule an appointment with a neurosurgeon. Does everyone but me know I should have seen a neurologist instead?? Would anyone reading this think that someone with a back in my condition would not feel any pain?

Again, sorry for the long post. I'm just at my wits end. Oh, and I forgot to say, I live in a major metropolitan area, and yet, my insurance does not have any neurologists listed within a 60-mile radius. So I really don't know where to go from here.

Thanks,
Eileen





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