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Chronic Back & Leg Pain, loss of sensation from waist down.

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Hi, I'm completely new to this forum, so have spent some time reading others inspirational posts, before plucking up the courage to post my own story.

I had an accident several years ago, a fall from a third storey window (approx. 25ft), deadweight, onto concrete surface, I was unconscious for several hours and woke up in hospital, and was told I had broken my back, I had the worst night of my life painwise, and at one point was (as described by the nurses) projectile vomiting, while also trying to remain flat, the spasms and electric shocks in my spine that night before surgery was a hell like I've never experienced before.

I was later told that my MRI showed an unstable burst T12 fracture, and I'd need surgery to stabilise my spine.

I had emergency surgery the next day, which seemed to alleviate the problems, however this didn't last long, I was discharged several days after the surgery, and things seemed OK for a while. However 2 to 3 months after being dishcharged I started having severe pains in my lower back and lower extremities, from the waist down.

On my post op follow up appointment and MRI they said that I had "marked degeneration of the spine, failure of segmentation of the lumbosacral junction, hemivertebra at T12 as well as fracture at this level, Limbus Vertebra at L3, Dystrophic Facet Joints, schmorls nodes throughout, fusion of the T11 to L2 for the burst fracture"

My surgeon hasn't been very forthcoming in explaining what all this means for my spine, and the implications for my mobility, other than to say that I wouldn't have much of a bum after the surgery.

As I say I've since seen my pain increase significantly, I told the surgeon this prior to the MRI being done, and afterwards he was eager for me to have the instrumentation removed, and booked me in for surgery to remove the metalwork, which was done by a different surgeon who noted on my discharge notes, that the metalwork was displaced.

Ever since then I've seen a continual deterioration of my difficulties, with pain from my waist all the way down to my feet, with loss of sensation as well. It feels like my legs aren't there or won't work properly & only move from memory of how to move them rather than actually moving like they used to.

I']m currently on morphgesic (slow release morphine) & oramorph (immediate acting morphine), as well as the usual antiinflammatories & paracetemol, for the pain, and diazapam as a muscle relaxant, though this doesn't help with the underlying disability it helps a little with the worst of the pain, bringing me to about a 5/10 on a good day, and 7/10 on the bad days.

I've since seen 2 seperate surgeons, with one saying I have developed thoracic kyphoscoliosis, and the other saying I also have lumbar hyperlordosis, hip flexion contracture.

As well as my mobility, this is also embarassingly causing bowel and urinary incontinence, and completely put an end to my sex life.

I'm 36 years old and feel as though I'm an 80 year old, I'm at my wits end, the waiting times to see a specialist here in the UK makes things worst, with average wait times between appointments of 40 to 60 weeks, just to be seen...!!!

Was just wondering if there's anyone else out there who has had any similar experiences who can offer some hope for a future improvement...?
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First Helper myopracticworks

replied March 3rd, 2012
Active User, very eHealthy
I believe damage at T12-L1 could affect ALL the nerves as this is this top of the "Cauda Equina" (Do a Google search) or "horses tail" of nerves which exit the spinal canal. Below this level, you would only be getting foot or leg symptoms.
Nerves rule the muscles and with nerve damage, the muscles can atrophy because the nerves aren't firing the muscles very well. So the muscles aren't damaged but lose strength from lack of use.
diazapam as a muscle relaxant, though this doesn't help with the underlying disability it helps a little with the worst of the pain,

This shows you can get some relief by relaxing your muscles. if you can do the correct exercises you can both relax the muscles AND hopefully help the underlying disability.
other saying I also have .Limbus Vertebra at L3,......lumbar hyperlordosis, hip flexion contracture.

These are only suggestions but give them a try and see if they can help your pain:

For the anterior damage at L3 and lumbar hyperlordosis:
1) "Static back abdominal contractions" (Do a Google search - "Campusfit" has an excellent video)
2) "Foot circles point flexes" (Do a Google search)
- Do this while still in "Static back" position.
- This will fire the nerves and keep the muscles in the ankles strong.

For the hip flexor contraction try:
3) "Progressive groin stretch" (Do a Google search - you will also see a link at the bottom of the page where a guy also has the loss of leg coordination that you have and this was recommended to him)

Let me know how these go.
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replied April 27th, 2012
Thanks for the reply, I've since seen yet another spine consultant, an in addition to the above details, after CT scan,I have a pars defect of L5, spina bifida, multiple congenital anomalies of the spine incluing missing vertebrae,when asked he didn't elaborate on these anomalies, but I believe the missing vertebrae are my sacrum an coccycx, as it feels as if my SI joint is actually artculating with my lumbar spine rather than my sacrum. I've since, writtten to him asking for an elaboration of the anomlies. It feels as though I can't get any extension of my entire anatomy, I try using a swiss gym ball to get as much extension as possible, but this is is excruciatingly painful but I persevere with this for 10-20 mins twice a day, as it feels as though my whole boy is in a state of flexion, with hip an knee flexion contractures, feels as though my ribcage is constantly being pulled down towards my pelvis and also that my pelvis is being pulled up towards my ribcage at the same time as there's no hip extension to pull my pelvis down if that makes sense..?? It literally feels as though my pelvis is locked onto my lumbar spine and that because of the T12-L1 fusion I can't extend my thorax either, feels like my spine is in a C shape and that both ends need to be straightened out or stretched back if that makes sense..?? especially the lower curve of the C, feels like that needs to be reversed, to bring back the typical S shape of the spine....I hope I'm making sense here..??
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replied April 27th, 2012
Active User, very eHealthy
it feels as though my whole boy is in a state of flexion, with hip an knee flexion contractures

Thomas Hanna's book "Somatics" (highly recommended)describes this as the "Red Light Reflex". People do this as a protective response to an injury or sudden threat.

especially the lower curve of the C, feels like that needs to be reversed,

Arching over the swiss ball MAY not be the best thing for you. It can put a big arch in the middle of your back but not at the ends where you need it the most.
What I would suggest to put an arch in your lowest spine:
1) "Static extension on elbows" (Do a Google search)
2) "Static back 90-90 position" (Do a Google search)
- BUT put a rolled up towel or 2 soft foam balls under your hips to put an arch into your lower back.

You can also lay face down on the floor and put a golf ball into your belly button. This can release your diaphragm and relax your abs. And also:
3) "Hand leg opposite glides" (Do a Google search)

my pelvis is being pulled up towards my ribcage at the same time as there's no hip extension to pull my pelvis down if that makes sense..?

You don't need to stretch out the back by arching over the Swiss ball. You want to LENGTHEN the hips and chest. No arching is required! The abs are not your problem. It's the deepest hip flexor muscle the "psoas" that attaches to T12/ L1-L5 that is compressing your spine. The most gently way to do this is:

4) "Progressive Groin Stretch" (Do a Google search)
"Static back position" as above BUT scoot your body back 12 inches and straighten out one leg so it is at about a 45 degree angle. Keep the other leg bent.

The more aggressive way to do this is:
5) "Kneeling lunge stretch" (Do a Google search)
6) "Front splits"

I can't extend my thorax either,

Don't worry about not extending your T12. For normal healthy people this is not necessary for health. Esther Gokhale's book "8 Steps to a Pain Free Back" (which I highly recommend) on page 124 Fig 5-15 shows a Dinka from Sudan. These people completely lock their spine with a corset, except L5-S1, and are EXTREMELY healthy with no back pain.
To fix this, you may be better working on SHOULDER extension, not your chest. Getting the shoulders back will open up your chest. From another post:

7) Straight arm at wall. Please bear with me, it's worth the effort!
a) Stand facing the wall.
b) Straight your left arm horizontally right out to the side.
c) Put the pinkie side of your left hand (edge) against the wall so your thumb is pointing AWAY from the wall. Or even downwards towards the floor. Rotation comes form the shoulder, not through the arm. You should feel the muscles around your scapula engage.
d) Press the PALM of your RIGHT hand against the wall like a pushup position. Use this force to rotate your chest and stretch your left pectoral muscles.
e) Let your left shoulder drop BACK and DOWN.
f) For added stretch do PNF muscle contraction of your left arm. This means PRESS your left edge of hand into the wall - counter the force with your right hand. QUICKLY RELEASE tension in your left arm and your right hand will spin your chest around some more, increasing the left pec stretch.

Cool The "Arthur Fonzerelli".
a) Stand with arms at your sides.
b) Put a Yoga block between each upper arm and side of your chest.
c) With your elbows slightly BEHIND your torso, press into the blocks. You will feel your arms rotating so your thumbs point straight ahead.
d) Bend your arms like your are doing and arm curl.
e) Rotate your forearms OUTWARDS.
OPTIONAL: stand back to the wall and press the backs of your hands INTO the wall. You do not need Yoga blocks for this step.

9) "Standing wall clock exercise". (Do a Google search)
a) BUT do this lying face down on the floor with Yoga blocks is an option.
b) Remember that thumbs point AWAY from the wall / floor at all times.

I know I gave you a lot but I hope you give a few of these a try.

Let me know if you have any questions.
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Users who thank myopracticworks for this post: vertebroken 

replied April 27th, 2012
Experienced User
Have you seen a physical therapist? If not it might be worth a try so you can make sure your work is productive towards increasing your mobility and reducing your pain. I know I tend to get sloppy about how I do my stretches and exercises over time. A trip to the pt or chiropractor can get me back on track.

I feel for you having to wait to see your Dr. You should definitely move to the front of the Que? as I believe you call it.

You make me feel like a slacker complaining about my ruptured discs. Good luck and hope you find relief.
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Users who thank unclesteve for this post: vertebroken 

replied April 27th, 2012
Active User, very eHealthy
Hi vertebroken you have some pretty serious issues. Its no wonder you are in pain. Were you in pain before you had your fall?

I have heard the NHS is bad i didn't know it was so terrible. You need to have a good talk with your surgeon about what can be done for your condition.

Because your problems are extensive i would recommend you thoroughly read up on them so you are in a position to understand what doctors are telling you otherwise it will just sound like they are speaking a foreign language. Good Luck
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Users who thank rollar64 for this post: vertebroken 

replied May 7th, 2012
Thanks for the replies folks, I have trie some of the exercises mentioned and found the fonzerelli one to be most effective for me thus far, maybe as it utilizes the upper body (as in above the T12-L1 level where most of the damage is below this level) so I can at least do this and it does help a LOT..!! Literally feels like it lifts my ribcage out of my pelvis, it helps a lot with the upper back pain, it isn't a permanent solution as when I sleep an the muscles return to a resting state they revert back to the malalignment agai n, so its like starting from scratch again each morning, but with time I hope that it will become fixed..!

I am due to go in for a brace fitting soon though it remains to be seen what they will advise or provide me with, full TLSO or just some light support from something less rigid.

I'll keep you updated o n my progress.

Thanks again for your kind support and advice, it's very much appreciated.
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replied May 7th, 2012
Active User, very eHealthy
Glad one helped.

Also try doing "stretch pushups":
- Do pushups with hands elevated on the yoga blocks.
- Before you lift your chest off the ground, feel the force of your arms pressing into the blocks PUSH your shoulders BACK. So your chest muscles will be relaxing, allowing your shoulders to drop back.
- Then lift off the ground, keeping your shoulders back as you push away.

and also:

"Wall Shoulder Press" (Do a Google search)
- It's the one where your back is to the wall.
- Arms against the wall like a scarecrow.
- Raise them over head while keeping arms against the wall.
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replied May 8th, 2012
Active User, very eHealthy
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