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MRI Please help! I'm in so much pain.

Started by hope_20022000 on 11/15/2012 12:52am

I am experiencing very bad back pain so I had an MRI and see a spine specialist soon. I have had back pain since I was about 14 years old so for about 15 years now. It seems to be worse now. Things that have been tried are physical therapy, a steroid injection (this made the pain worse), tens unit, anti inflammatories, and a back brace. My pcp gave me vicodin 5-500 and said take 1 twice a day until I see the specialist. These don't seem to take the edge off at all. I have also been on ultram which doesn't do anything at all for it. I have a dip in about the middle of my back and this is where the pain seems to start but moves down to the top of my butt. The pain in the dip feels like someone stabbing a knife through my back and into my stomach then twisting it. I also have some numbness that comes and goes in the bottom of each foot. I am going to post my MRI results in hopes that someone can give me some idea of what it means and what might happen next in the treatment of this. Any information would be much appreciated as I'm in the dark on all of this and kind of freaked out since I'm only 29 and having all these issues. Thank you in advance.

Alignment is anatomic. The paraspinous soft tissues are normal. Incidentally noted is chronic, mild ectasia of the distal thecal sac. The distal spinal cord and nerve roots of the cauda equina are normal in appearance. No bone marrow pathology is seen.

No significant abnormality is demonstrated at the T10-T11 through L3-L4 levels. There is no lumbar disc protrusion, spinal stenosis, or foraminal narrowing.

L4-L5: There is a posterior annular tear and a small, broad-based, left foraminal disc protrusion. There is mild left lateral recess narrowing. There is no nerve root displacement. There is no significant facet arthropathy. There is no spinal stenosis or foraminal narrowing.

L5-S1: There is disc degeneration and mild disc bulging. There is mild bilateral facet arthropathy. There is no spinal stenosis or significant foraminal narrowing.

The visualized upper sacrum is unremarkable.

Again thank you in advance to anyone who has any input for me.

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5 Responses


You need to get to a Neurosurgeon right away , and have a very *frank talk . Ask lots of questions , or
when he tells you something in "Doctor language" , ask him to break it down in plain English ... better . Often they forget you aren't privy to "their lingo" . And some simply don't go into detail much . I am not being cute about this . I didn't ask enough questions when i went in , and he didn't bother to tell me any-
thing about the "chronic Pain issue" - i'd be left with , either . ASK him how many of "his" patients have been left with "chronic pain" after the surgery ? If he is vague , it's always best to get at least one more opinion . I am very serious about this , as any patient who's had lower Back Surgery will tell you / a 2nd.
opinion is *always wise . Check with your insurance ... if they will pay for having a 2nd. opinion done ? Many insurances now will say > "yours is a pre-existing condition" / refuse to pay . Check this out .
Surgery is very expensive .
If the Doctor tells you / *you need a Fusion / Hardware / Cage wrap , screws ... all or any of these , get that *2nd. opinion . I took the Doctor's words on blind faith , had to have two operations , and left with issue of *Chronic Pain . Best surgeon said / and others afterwords ... all were to tell me "just live with it" ! > as they showed me the door . They will tell you to ..."go to a Pain Management Specialist"-
who will advise *physical therapy , drugs , walking , acupuncture , steroid shots , the morphine patch .
The list goes on and on . I wish you well . One last thing : Very wise to get an opinion from a Neurosurgeon , as well as a Orthopedic guy . *Most patients will advise seeing a Neurosurgeon . Wish I had done this . I don't mean to alarm you , but lower Back Surgery is a big thing . Good Luck to you . *Chronic Back pain is Hell .


Hi Hope,my name is Rene, im an orthopedic nurse,,ill help u understand your MRI better,,,,Basically your issues are at level L4-5 n L5S1..

1. L4-5 : annular tear,,that means the fluid in ur disc is leaking ou,causing it to flatten,( like a flat tire), the purpose of flid in disc is to act as a space cusion inbetween ur vertabra, also it has not herneated, its just sticking out a bit and your narrowing of space is squeezing on the chord,all of which is contributing to the pain and numbness n tingling in ur right leg. 2. L5-S1 : is slightly sticking out of place also contibuting to pain but good thing the disc isnt completely out (herniated). With all said they may leave it alone or suggest a laminectomy which is just shaving down of the protruding area only if the those discs R pressing on the nerves...Hope I was of help. keep us informed,,Rene :)


Hi Hope, I'm Justin, and I would definitely agree with the two previous responses and Rene is really knows her stuff, . The only other thing that comes to my attention is that you have had this ongoing for 15 yrs. now. Your sciatic nerve being pinched by the bulging discs will most likely cause crazy pain and sometimes radiate down legs, or cause the numbness in your feet, which they told me is from the L5-S1 disc. I had herniated L4 and L5 discs in 2008, recieved 3 steroid injections that helped for almost 1 year. It is a temporary fix and may cause other problems, and the long term side effects are still unknown. I recently herniated a 3rd disc= the L5-S1 which is the next lowest disc and I really believe that this happened due to the steroid injection causing my injured back area to feel strong enough to carry on hard work, when it was really still weak, and will always have a weak spot. All the pressure I kept putting on for the next 4 yrs, was going straight to the next recieving disc causing it to herniate and also break. Now looking at surgery to remove the piece of broken bone in spinal canal and laminectomy, diskectomy. Try to do everything you can to avoid things like this happening to you. and def be careful about feeling forced to do steroid shots, they want to use those for just about anything now, because it does wonders for along enough time to get some people out of their hair


Morning hope, havnt heard a responce from U, R U ok.? Did u see a neuro surgeon yet? In all seriousness, I highly doubt surgery is necessary unless U begin to loose control of your bladder/bowls.If U can get a script for physical therapy I think it would help,,but dont go to a regular physcal therapy office,,find a chiropractor,,they wont do adjustments like u normally think of how they care for their patients,,if its spinal therapy what they do is try to minipulate that bulg back into place,,then they do light massage,,then they use Tens treatment w/hot blanket wraps. thats what I get done 3x week. Everyone thinks a chiropractor just goes in and starts crackin away,,thats true for the normal person but if your going to them for spinal treatments their upproach is much different..If you go to a regular physical therapy group,they start stretchn you and cause more harm n pain.thats what physical therapist do, their goal is to stretch those muscles and get them from shrinking. Trust me,,make some calls..I dont give medical advice unless Im certain,,,Im not a know it all kind of nurse,I advice only if im sure. Your MRI isnt that bad,,trust me and beware of that surgeon that says yes U need surgery,get a second or even 3rd opinion before you take that surgical leap. Ur MRI deffinately shows just cause for U having this pain,I know to U it sounds scary w/all that medical mumbo jumbo.Are U on Pain meds? those U have reson to B on and a muscle relaxer would help alot.Either bring your MRI to an orthopedist,Your Primary Or neuro MD not surgeon, they should B able to prescribe those 2 meds,,if not a Pain management. I think your better off w/whom ordered the MRI or an orthoopedist or primary to get U started on a pain med and MUSCLE relaxant,by doing that and the chiroprectory therapy I think it would help alot..Keep us informed,,,,And no heating pad , use Ice 20min on 20 min off then use heat at end for 10min. Ice will help w/ inflammation of nerves which is causing the pain,,a heating pad would only inflame them more causing more pain,,a frozen bag of veggies work fine......awaiting ur responce,Rene :)..one more thing, i just reread what meds u were taking ur med regimn should consist of Percocet 5/325 1 to 2 tabs every 4-6 hrs, a neuropathy med for sciatica pain/burning eg:Lyrica,neurontin/gabapentin, anti inflamatory (celebex or cymbalta) muscle relaxer; zanaflex,valium or mobic. stay away from ultram its a synthetic pain med,does nothing and the withdrawals R wicked,,1 vicodin is nothing,,the percocet work better bcause they have tylenol in them w/hydrocodone.they should atleast allow U 4 per day minimum to start.good luck