About 6 weeks ago, I quickly lifted something heavy that fell over and stated having back pain. It got worse a bit at a time until 2 weeks ago, I was getting ready to go camping. I stopped what I was doing to lay down and rest and couldn't get up after that. I was in excruciating pain. After a couple Doc visits, a few steroid shots, and quite a few pain pills, it started to stop hurting, but I found that my left foot was numb and my left leg was week. I ride a motorcycle and I couldn't lift the shift lever w/ my left foot. Had an MRI done with these results:
MRI Lumbar w/wo contrast
History: Low back pain
An MRI of the lumbar spine was performed on a conventional high field magnet. Sagittal pre and post contrast T1, sagittal and axial T2, sagittal fat suppressed fast spin echo T2 and axial pre and post contrast T1 weighted imaging was performed. Apparently the PT has a history of cancer in perianal region treated w/ radiation and chemo.
There are post irradiation changes in L5 and the sacrum with a homogeneous fatty marrow population present. The marrow in the upper lumbar spine has a normal heterogeneous pattern. The conus medullaris and cauda equina look normal.
I do not see any paraspinal abnormalitites.
The T12-L1, L1-2 levels look normal . The L2-3 shows some loss of height and signal, but no disk protrusion or canal stenosis.
The L3-4 level shows and eccentric left foraminal disk bulge causing left sided foraminal stenosis.
The L4-5 level looks normal.
There is a soft tissue mass posterior to the L5 vertebral body which does not enhance. This is an extra dural mass causing left laterial recess stenosis. There is absolutely no enhancement on the post contrast images. This may be a disk fragment. It is fairly large measuring 2 cm cranial to caudal by 1 cm anterior to posterior by about 1.3 cm medial to lateral. There is a foraminal disk protrusion at L5-S1 causing left foraminal stenosis as well. This mass is separate from that disk protrusion, although comes close to it and could certainly be a free disk fragment. It causes rather severe left lateral recess stenosis and probably impinges on the exiting L5 nerve.
Even though my back pain has subsided some, I am experiencing weakness in my left leg and hip. Muscle cramps up and down my left leg and my left foot is still completely numb.
My doc referred me to a neurosurgeon. He did tell me that I should not keep surgery completely off my list of treatments, but it should be the last resort treatment. Basically what I hear and read is that I have 2 herniated disks and a mass next to the L5-S1 disk that could be a disk fragment or could be something else completely, including cancer.
I was told about a new plastic disk thats being used to replace herniated disks and it has been successful.
Has anyone else heard about these plastic replacements?
Your doctor was right, you do need to see a neurosurgeon. AND if I may add a spinal surgeon. Search for the very best ones in your area. Then make an appointment to see at least one of each at the top of your list.
And yes, as your doctor has said - surgery is the last option.
I am not a doctor, just a spiney like most of us here, however, from my personal experience and from reading that of others, any time you have numbness or tingling in legs, it is a sign there may be a pinched nerve.
Don't delay in seeing the neurosurgeon and spinal surgeon.
Cowboy, MOST importantly i would highly recommend that you DON'T do anything that will make the situation worse. No heavy lifting, and no riding that motorcycle I know you like. At least not until the neurosurgeon and spinal surgeon have "cleared" you to do so.
I hope all goes well. Do let us know how things go for you.