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Pinched Nerves from L2/L3 to L5/S1

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Past history, back injury 10 years ago, with cortisone injection at the age of 19, and then again at 20. At that point in time, I had my L5/S1 bulging almost to the point of rupture and my L3/L4 and L4/L5 bulging. Soon afterward I broke my talus in my right ankle, having a pin, screw and bone graft. The podiatrist told me that my back would probably never be as bad as it was again due to my ankle injury, and the 75% of onset of arthritis within 5 years. I have arthritis in both ankles, neck, and from my MRI from a month ago, lower back as well. Usually I do something foolish, and throw my back out. My muscles are usually tense for a few days. Until I can’t stand the pain anymore I then go get some muscle relaxers, and in a week I am better but not 100%. This time I can’t pin point what I have done to injure my self. My MRI results: Slight to mild pinching of the nerves on the left side from L2/L3 down to L5/S1, and mild to moderate pinching of my nerves from L2/L3 down to L5/S1. There are signs of degenerative disc disease and spinal Stenosis in my L5/S1, and signs of arthritis in my L4/L5 area. I learned that the nerves are approx 18 mm in diameter from the MRI report. My left nerves are pinched to a 14-15mm in diameter, and my right side is pinched to 12-13mm in diameter. I had a kenalog injection little over 2 weeks ago, in the center of my spine at the L4/L5 disc area. The contrast showed it covered from S1 up to L2. I can be pain free if I keep my self horizontal on the couch or bed for 3 or so days! I just flew back to work, and the 1.5 hr flight killed me. The pressurization of the aircraft for one, making my body expand, caused some pain. I held my self up off the seat using the arm rests as support. The landing was so hard, that my elbows broke over, and the 2 or so inches above the seat that I was I dropped, compressing me more so than I think if I were to have just sit and ride out the landing. I felt many pops/cracks in my back. I have only been to a chiropractor 2 times in my life, and that was this past Friday and Monday. Here I found out that my right leg is 9mm shorter than my left. So I am wearing a 5mm heel lift, to help gradually move my hips back into position and allowing my back and neck to follow suit. My lower spine curves to the right and then back to center due to this. My chiropractor didn’t do anything to my lower back, from reading the MRI results, but have my lay on my stomach and she put slight pressure on both sides of my spine with her palms massaging the lower area. No pops or discomfort was felt. She did adjust my mid back all the way up to my neck. I feel fine in those area’s, but my back is killing me from the flight. I flew right after my ankle surgery, and was amazed how much my body expanded during flight. The doctor had cut my leg cast down both sides and then wrapped it with ace bandages to allow for expansion. I had a ½” to ¾ “ gap on both sides! So, I am physically exhausted, and tired of taking my valium and tramadol. I’ve now doubled my morning and evening doses on my own to be mentally numb and reducing my leg burn/numbness. I can’t take heavy drugs because they make me so loopy, I’d rather deal with the pain rather than feel that way. I am doing like 5 stretches for my back, and have had to stop today because of the pain. Pelvic lifts hurt!!!! I have also just started taking a laundry list of vitamins, from my own research. Has anyone had any procedures that have helped? I am dealing with the VA right now on this situation because I am service connected for it. Traction and electro stimulation feels good while I am doing it, but hurts like crazy afterward for about 6 to 10 hours. I am supposed to be doing 15 min heat (hot towel not heating pad) then 15 min of ice, 3 sets of this. The heat makes things worse, but I could keep my home-made gallon isopropyl alcohol and water ice packs for hours, but I know that isn’t good for me and haven’t done so either. Lying on the floor with my feet on the couch use to help, but doesn’t any more. Now I have to pile blankets on the couch, and lay on top of them. That seems to be my only pain/pressure relief. I am tired of dealing with the VA for this condition. But have not received and answer back from the insurance company if they would consider this a prior or not. Thanks in advance for any advice/help. Travis
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replied March 24th, 2010
Extremely eHealthy
travis...yours is a complex case.
you have done well to combat these problems.
are you seeing an ortho spine specialist surgeon at the va? not that you need surgery but he would have the most knowledge.
do you get pains running down your legs...sciatica.

heres my thinking
get on an ansaid drug for arthritis....diclofinac is a good one.
try some aqua therapy under a therapists guidance. hope to talk again soon.
.....pete
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replied March 24th, 2010
Sorry for the long messages….The Alaska VA... I had my first and only experience was down in Portland! Times have changed and it was the best care I received to date! They helped me find out my ankle problem, and know my limits on it now. OHSU doctors would work side by side with the VA doctors. So, my Primary care VA doctor didn’t tell the outsource clinic where to give me my kenalog injection! I had the MRI done at Elmendorf AFB. It was only the lumbar area! I am wanting a full spine MRI. Head to hip! I had to chose where the shot was going and the doctor providing the injection used contrast and he thought with my description of pain that it was in the right area. Both of my legs lit up on fire when he was about half way through the injection, and I asked him to stop. It was a different feeling than my previous cortisone shots! He did stop the injection, and then explained a bit about it the situation, and just finished the injection really slowly. I left looking like a ghost and a day and a half later the pain started drastically getting less. I would haul a few arm loads of wood in from outside say 50 feet from the house, and then just be a couch potato. Had my VA doctor from Anchorage flat out tell me that chiropractor care, massages, and acupuncture weren’t authorized. So he sent me to PT and then the “Back Class” where I learned nothing, but chiropractic care and massages are authorized by the VA! I’ve learned how to sleep with a pillow between my legs, always sleep on my sides, and use my room only for sleep the right posture to stand up from a squat. So I would like to see him removed from his position! I don’t deal with people who think their beliefs in medicine are the only way everyone should be treated; my fellow veteran’s and myself deserves better care and if it takes my voice to help them, then I will take it as far as I can! Anyways to my best knowledge (bottles are at home), my vitimins I am taking are: Calcium with something?, Vitamins: B complex, D, C, MSM, Glucosamine Chondroitin, CoQ10 and Bromaline on empty stomach to help with joint pain. I think I am missing one or two, but still it is a big change from what I use to take… nothing. My diet is mainly meat and potatoes, stews, and pasta’s. I’ve started the past month eating old fashioned Quaker Oats with brown sugar and honey for breakfast rather than my heart attack one! I’ve all but removed soda from my diet. Drinking a lot of water, and home made sweet tea. Have thought that maybe drinking too many fluids, causing the discs to retain fluid? I don’t know just grasping at straws here. Right now, I’ve been up 20 hrs. I went to sleep an hour ago, and 20 minutes later I am wide awake again. Had the doctor tell me that my body is exhausted enough that it drops into REM sleep so quickly, that it actually thinks I am dying. So in response to that, it sends out a “all call” to my nerves, which cause me to twitch, hence waking me up when the back spasms. I do munch a lot. I have peanut butter sweet and salty granola bars, and then always have some type of chocolate bars in my tool box at work. I wear the same style of boots. That has solved my ankle issues. My Danner mid high work boots do well, and if I wear a pair of sneakers, my feet are numb within an hour. I don’t have flat feet but close. I know from past doctors telling me, that if my feet/knees hips are messed up, it will only cause my back to be in constant tension with my muscles to keep my back straight. I went ahead and did my PT exercises tonight, and just went until I reached my pain level. My back doesn’t like extension. I have my next appointment on April 9th with the VA. I am trying to arm myself with as much information that I can. I’ve not seen any orthopedic doctor what so ever for this issue! I am trying to see if my regular health care insurance will cover this, and go get a real doctor! I am only 29, and I am living a life of a very disabled 60 year old. On the flight and all this evening, it hurt to breath. Bowl movements are painful, I’ve lost bladder control 2 times but not to the extent that I can’t stop it. That was prior to the shot, and my primary care doctor thought it is a completely different cause. I want to request to get seen by the Alaska Spine Institute! I’m losing 50% of my pay due to the style of work schedule I work. So I am not in finical trouble as of now, but I can easily see myself getting there , and quickly at that! I just want pain relief, and the knowledge to know I’m not doing permanent damage. Maybe I’ll have to break down and get heavier medication, and be all loopy until then. I’m thankful that company I work for is small, and my boss totally understands my limits, and is allowing me to do all the light duty jobs. I do get pain down my legs, more so numbness and more noticeable on the left leg. When things get bad, then the right leg comes into play. I have had this past week my mid thigh numb. My feet have been doing well, as far as numbness goes, but they do join into the fun when I am completely miserable. I have already contacted my Senator 2 times about this treatment I’ve been receiving from the VA. The VA rep from her office stated I would hear from the VA. I have hearing loss, but I’ve not received anything. I’ve not done aqua therapy at all for my back. With my 2 week on/off work schedule, this makes regular treatment few and far between. I would rather stay working, than stay at home, because it helps keep my mind busy and the pain is greater, but the days go by faster. I will look into anti inflammatory. The civilian doctor I saw in Nome, put me on an advanced dosage of Prednisone, but the VA wouldn’t continue the script, so I only took half of that. Started at 6 pills a day, then5 and 5, then 4. Had a 3 day break, and then went 4, 3 and 3, etc down to 1. Sorry if this is sporadic in the flow, but I’m quite looped up on the valium and tramadol! I’m to the point of asking a real doctor, if my minimal disc spacing ever going to be able to recover quickly at all in the future! I would much rather have some type of surgery, because I don’t know how long my nerves can be pinched like this with out causing permanent damage. I’m almost at the end of dealing with the stupid options. Wondering what type of surgeries are out there. I would rather have arthritis pain and my back fused, than be in the pain I am in. Have a good day. I’m going to try to get some more sleep. Trav
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replied March 24th, 2010
Extremely eHealthy
trav....you have to get to an ortho spine surgeon. without proper analysis of the situation youll be 80 not 60. you might have the start of excratory problems caused by spine. thats an emergency situation. lack of treatment makes the condition permanent but only surgeon skilled enough to know. do whatever it takes to see ortho spine surgeon!!! and yes the longer the nerves are pinched that affect legs the more chance of permanent damage....pete
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replied March 26th, 2010
Okay Pete, my regular doc at the VA wants to do a nerve study, and then send to the Seattle, for the results to be examined! Dealing with the VA and trying to get into Ortho, and a specialist, isn’t rocket science, but it takes too much time. I am still in the mind set of why and what good will this do? Guess only certain doc's are in the state of AK. Anyways, I think my nerves are working just fine. Beings the MRI showed compression on both sides of my lower four discs on my nerves. I feel pain, I get in more pain the more I move! I am to the point that even after the Kenalog shot, that a 6 hr work day on a very easy duty, hurts like hell! So in my opinion my nerves are working but wonder why she wants a nerve study done? I've done a little research online, and can't find much help. I am about to lose my sanity! Today was my first day back at work, a day late at that. I did 9 hrs, having to take a 2 hour lunch, 12 more to go! The place that gave me the Kenalog injection called to ask about my symptoms. She said that everything sounds okay from their standpoint, being that they gave the shot and any side effect that could happen isn’t my symptoms. My doctor has prescribed me medication that I can't take but 1/2. Being an aircraft mechanic (safety sensitive job) I can't be on medication and work. I am in the process to see how to get unemployability through the VA until they get me fixed, or I will need to put into the psychiatric ward soon! If I do nothing for 3 days, I am probably in 50% of pain, but then any major movement, causes me to go back up in pain.
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replied March 26th, 2010
Extremely eHealthy
trav...
that nerve tests tells the doc if there is damage to the nerves and what nerves have been damaged. you can get pain from damaged nerves and still be real strong. in fact my left leg kills me but no weakness. pain so bad its unbearable to stand 30 secs. the longer the nerves have been in pain the more chance they been damaged.there are different kinds of nerves in spinal cord. some sense pain and some heat and cold and some control coordination and strength. so a pain nerve strand can get pinched but not the muscle nerve and visa versa. i guess the va wants to save $ by not sending you to specialist now. but info on nerve test will be good. just pressure the hell out of them for specialist.....whens test....pete
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replied March 26th, 2010
A friend of a friend, I've been talking to has RSD /CRPS, and has been helping me with a lot of my struggles! She basically just told me the same thing this morning. Took her 4 years for the VA to get her diagnosed! Having someone who's been down the road with the VA helps, but also doesn't give one comfort knowing the long process! Anyways, I can request a ortho surgeon, through my doctor, and then if they don't, just takes a phone call and letter to the Senator's office, and things magically start becoming available. The only thing I am grateful for right now is the kenalog shot is allowing me to sleep a few more hours at a stretch! Sleeping 3 to 4 hours at a time 2 times a night is so NICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Before the one hour, or half hour cat naps all night long was miserable! This morning, I'm doing worse than yesterday morning, but I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, would be nice if I could mentally block out my nerves to my head right now! I'm worrying more and more on a daily basis, about permanent damage. Just like I was when it took 2 months of badgering the VA for an MRI rather than saying it was just muscle pain. I know my body, have had back issues for 10 years, I can tell the difference. So, when I found out the results it was a huge relief, but my worst fear was they were going to say, we see nothing wrong! Our mind is our own enemy! I live life differently, expecting the worst, and surprised when things are better than expected!
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replied June 2nd, 2010
I am having pain in both legs that start at the top of outside thigh and extend down into the groin and front of leg. I have had MRI's, Cat Scan's, Bone Scan's and etc., in which nothing has shown up. I did have conduction test done last work and it showed I may have a pinched nerve in the L2 and L3 part of the back. I have had injections in side of legs to no avail. I am now scheduled to have a spine or nerve block done next week. Should this take care of the problem?
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replied February 6th, 2011
pain numbness right thigh
have fusion L-4 L-5 S=1 now started having a problem again have a torn tendon in my foot which I blamed on the knee pain I started to have by the way I walked MRI showed osteoarthritis in all three champers and may need a replacement some day but not yet the dr said My question is regarding numbness I have had on the outer thigh for the last 6 weeks goes from the knee to 3/4 the way to the hip. I have lost over 1/2 the strength in my right leg which I found out by trying PT and they did tests. Have some low back pain which gets worse if I move wrong but not convinced it's my back it seems different this time. MRI shows pinched nerve at L=3 I can't see my surgeion until the 15th a seems to get worse everyday can rardley walk have pain thigh and hip. my question is do you think this could be caused from the degenerative disc disease or could it be something else.
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