Herniated Disc & Nerve Root

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misterkatamari
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 374
   Posted 2/3/2011 7:33 PM (GMT -6)   
So I finally saw my neurologist again today. He did an EMG test on me (because he acted like getting an MRI was pointless at first.) After the test he said I had some nerve irritation in my back and that he had to conduct the calculations to know more, but that he also wanted me to get an MRI. Luckily, I had already had one done regardless of his first opinion, so he got the results quickly.
I felt pretty ok about what he told me, thinking maybe it wasn't anything serious. Then when I got home his office called me and the secretary was like, "We got your MRI results...and seems you have a herniated disc pressing against your nerve root which requires surgery..."

So now I have to wait for them to call me back with some neurosurgeons and appointments for consultation.
Just the way they said 'requires surgery' sorta bothered me. Not 'might need' or 'should see a surgeon'.
On one hand I'm glad they have sort of pin pointed what is causing all this pain...on the other I'm a little bummed that it had to actually be this. I'm not going to get too upset until I know the facts and talk with the surgeon. No need to worry about it in the mean time really.

I do wish I had something that helped with the pain more. The hydrocodone I am on just isn't helping expect for making me a little loopy so I don't feel as bad about it. I don't expect the pain to be GONE, no way, I just wish it could be helped a little.

Also, I'm going to my PCP soon but I was just wondering...what exactly is the difference between a herniated disc normally and when it is pressing against a nerve root? Is a nerve root different than what it normally can hurt? To me it seems like the nerve root is a bigger nerve that the others branch out from, is that pretty much correct?
So yeah...I hope I can get some help for this.

White Beard
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Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3285
   Posted 2/3/2011 9:58 PM (GMT -6)   
misterkatamari

The nerve root is where the nerve branches off the spinal cord and comes out through the openings between the vertebra and innervates the area of the body it is going to. Sometimes when a disk herniates it presses on the spinal cord its self or the the nerve roots coming off the spinal cord. Allot of time when this happens you do not feel the pain in the back or at the nerve root, but you feel the pain in the area that the nerve root innervates. Example, I had a herniated disk at C-5/6 and it was pressing on the nerve root on the left side, the pain I felt was in the lower left arm and fingers, with numbness and tingling and burning sensation in the fingers and fore arm. They did an ACDF Anterior Cervical Diskectomy and fusion, ( they took out the herniated disk and and replaced it with a donor cadaver bone to graft the two vertebra together, then they put a bracket across the two vertebra and to hold everything together and tightened it down with titainum screws) when I woke up from the surgery my arm pain was gone! By the way what area of your back is this?? Anyway I hope this helps you!

Good luck to you!


White Beard
Moderator Chronic Pain
After spending nearly 22 1/2 years in the USAF, I retired in Sept, 1991. I then went back to school and became a licensed RN in 1994, and I worked on Oncology and then a Med Surg Unit, I became disabled in late 1999 and was approved SSD in early 2002!-- DDD, With herniated Disk at T-12 and L4-5. C5-C6 ACDF in Sep 2009, C6-C7 ACDF in Mar 1985, Osteoarthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Complex Sleep Apnea, and host of other things to spice up my life!(NOT!) Medications:Oxycontin, Percocet, Baclofen, Sulfasalazine, Metoprolol, Folic Acid, Supplemental O2 at 3lpm with VPAP Adapt SV I am White Beard with a White Beard!

misterkatamari
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 374
   Posted 2/3/2011 11:50 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks White Beard!

I don't know the exact location in my spine, I haven't actually received the report myself yet.

This all started because I did actually have pain in my back, and it seems as though that is where the herniation is. It's my lower back, and I experience pain on my left side. It feels like it radiates all over my hip and front of my leg, where it stops at the knee. I also have some numbness in my thigh and part of my groin--so that was part of the reason I was sent to the specialist I suppose.

I'm glad that at least in your case it helped you out a bit! I've never had pain in my fingers, and I hope I don't really experience it. I use them quite alot--like for typing!--and it's bad enough to have a leg hurt let alone arms and such too.

Thanks so much for your informative post, I hope you're doing well. :)

Jim1969
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 2042
   Posted 2/4/2011 12:04 AM (GMT -6)   
What is effected all depends on which disc(s) are herniated and what nerves they are impacting.

With the pain you are having or have had being in your lower back and/or legs and groin area your problem disc will be in the lumbar area and/or possibly in the sacroiliac.

Just for a little FYI: There are several areas of the spine with corresponding discs. Each are is letter coded with a number following to indicate which specific disc is being talked about. The numbers go from top to bottom.

Cervical (neck) discs have a C
Thorasic ("chest") are T
Lumbar (low back) are L
Sacroiliac (very low back/tailbone) are S
2 confirmed herniated lumbar discs. Spinal Arthritis. Spinal Stenosis, diabetic peripheral nueropathy.

White Beard
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3285
   Posted 2/4/2011 12:57 AM (GMT -6)   
misterkatamari

Jim is absolutely right  and  usually problems with the cervical disks affects the arms and hands, the thorasic disk usually affect the chest and abdominal area, and the lumbar disk affect the legs and the sacro disks affect the legs and groin area.  Surgery is usually a last resort fix,  and it does not alway work! However with that said, it is often necessary to prevent further damage to the nerve and prevent loss of use, the the affected area. As a general rule the thorasic disk are the most difficult to work on and most surgeons will not touch them unless it is absolutely necessary, the cervical disk in the neck are usually the easiest for the surgeon to get at, and work on, but any damage to this area can affect the rest of the whole body, especially the closer you get to the head, C-1/2/3 area.  The lumbar  and Sacro area is usually the most frequent  area to go bad and gives most people the most problems, and is the are that most surgeries are preformed on, but it is not the most easy area for a surgeon to work on.  Allot  of people have a condition called Sciatic Nerve pain and it affects their hip and goes down the back of their leg, and it is extremely painful usually it is caused by the L-4/5 disks.  There is some overlap of most of the disk areas and if you google dermatome Map of the body you can see what Jim and I are talking about.
 
Good Luck to You, and Please let us know how you come out on this!
 
White Beard
Moderator Chronic Pain
After spending nearly 22 1/2 years in the USAF, I retired in Sept, 1991. I then went back to school and became a licensed RN in 1994, and I worked on Oncology and then a Med Surg Unit, I became disabled in late 1999 and was approved SSD in early 2002!-- DDD, With herniated Disk at T-12 and L4-5. C5-C6 ACDF in Sep 2009, C6-C7 ACDF in Mar 1985, Osteoarthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Complex Sleep Apnea, and host of other things to spice up my life!(NOT!) Medications:Oxycontin, Percocet, Baclofen, Sulfasalazine, Metoprolol, Folic Acid, Supplemental O2 at 3lpm with VPAP Adapt SV I am White Beard with a White Beard!

misterkatamari
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 374
   Posted 2/4/2011 7:15 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks everyone.

I know the disc is in my lumbar spine, but I don't know the actual number yet. I'm not sure why they simply acted like I needed the surgery, it seemed as though she said it just matter-of-factly. I'm not going to worry about it though, until I actually talk to the surgeon. No point getting upset over just to have the surgeon tell me that it isn't necessary and that I worried for nothing! So I guess I'll see what's up once I go to my appointment with that surgeon.

Though I am worried about getting worse physically as I age and having this corrected perhaps, the main reason I'm pursuing treatment is because of the pain. I just wish I could go a day without it...or at the very least have it toned down. I really wish my doctor would try me on a different medicine. I think maybe they are afraid to, which I guess is understandable given my age...but I just would do almost anything to help relieve this. I'm not sure why they don't try me on something else, as I've heard from people who have responded poorly to one medication and yet did well on another. I feel that they think I am trying to take the 'strongest' drug or something, and I just want SOMETHING to help. I don't care if it's even less than I am on now if it helps, in fact I would prefer that! Having loads of tylenol in my system is something I'll avoid if I can. :P

misterkatamari
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 374
   Posted 2/4/2011 3:00 PM (GMT -6)   
So I got a call from the neurologist to set up my appointment with the surgeon.

Apparently he's an orthopedic surgeon. Seems pretty young and completed his internship in 2001. His website says he's fellowship trained (2 fellowships) in spine surgery. He's also obviously board certified and a member of several professional organizations. So even if he hasn't been conducting operations for too awful long he sounds at least technically accomplished.

Hopefully I'll find out more when I meet him on the 16th for the consultation.

No matter what he says though, does anyone else think it wise to get a second opinion by another surgeon? I just wondered if it was always a good idea to that even if you turn out to like the surgeon on your first visit or whatever the circumstance.

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 11318
   Posted 2/4/2011 6:33 PM (GMT -6)   
Mister I would highly suggest a second opinion with a neurosurgeon and here is why. The orthopedic's specialty is the bony structures and a neurosurgeon's specialty is dealing with the nerves and such. Since they are talking you having a nerve involved I would sure consult with a neurosurgeon in this matter. When surgery is involved more than two opinions is not unusual.

Take care.
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

misterkatamari
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 374
   Posted 2/4/2011 9:57 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks so much straydog.

Sounds reasonable, and I feel that there's no reason not be super careful. Plus if a doctor is really good and professional than I think he would be understanding in a patient getting another opinion.

On a related note--while I'll definitely ask the surgeon about it, I was just wondering if anyone had experience with this kind of surgery to correct a herniated disc and how they recovered from it. I just kinda wanted to know what to expect. I hate not being able to work and go to school, and I wish I had a little more of an idea of if I'll be able to do those things again soon...or what. lol

misterkatamari
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 374
   Posted 2/22/2011 3:00 PM (GMT -6)   
Still waiting. Have my appointment with the Orthopedic surgeon this Friday.

Still unable to do hardly anything. I try and move around, but sometimes it just like all I can do is live through it. lol! I wish I had someway to lower the pain level when it is this bad. I really hope that I can see someone for measures on how to reduce this instead of just having stuff prescribed to me without too much thought to how it's helping me. I take the hydrocodone but it just makes me kinda loopy, barely takes an edge off.

I went ahead and contacted an SSDI agency. No idea how much it'll help. My main worry is that no doctor has actually told me that I can't work at all yet, so they suggest I tell them about my intent to apply for disability. Everyone keeps sending for another refferal and what not, and months and months go by.
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