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Missing a L5? My MRI is confusing
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Questions in the Back & Neck Pain forum are answered by medical professionals and experts in their field. Topics covered include herniated disc, pinched nerves, sciatica, degenerative spine disease, spinal stenosis, spine trauma and fractures, and pine tumors.

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Missing a L5? My MRI is confusing

I am 43 years old and have suffered from calf cramping, sciatica and muscle spasms for about 7 months now. I had a huge neuplasm removed from an ovary in Sept. 07, which was the suspect for this pain.  After healing from the surgery the pain continued.  I saw an orthopedic surgeon, xrays and physical therapy was done for 12 weeks - no relief.   I just had a MRI and it states I only have four non rib bearing lumbar type vertebral segments. There is also a predominatly sacralized vertbral sement that is the fifth segment caudal to the small ribs.  Does this mean I am without L5?  

Additional information reads "A broad based posterior to left forminal L4-S1 disc protrusion accompanies disc bulge and degenerative change, with relative central canal and left inferior foraminal stenosis".  I just received my first epidural yesterday, so I am not sure how helpful it will be.  There was no injury involved, just progression of the symptoms becoming worse.  If I loose control of my bowels or unrinary tract, I understand that sugery is a medical emergency?  Would this, or could this happen even if I am exremely careful of movements and avoid injuries?  

Any suggestions and help understanding is much appreciated.  
Related Discussions
412913_tn?1213498587
Is your pain in both legs or on one side? If so, which leg is painful?
Has the epidural helped?
If it does not and you have persistent or worsening symptoms then surgery may be indicated.
2 Comments
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Thank you Dr. Pillay for posting a reply.  My pain is on my left side, I have moderate to sometimes very painful muscle spasms in the piformus area down the upper back left thigh - only in the morning.  I have a constant cramping in my lower left calf.  After the epidural I have not had any muscle spasms, but some sciatica (not severe).  My left calf is still in a constant cramping state.  It has been one week since the injections.  Does the steriod injection actually shrink the disc, or just the tissue surrounding the disc?  Also, I have suffered from my left calf cramping since last year August, my concern is how damaging is this to my leg in the long run, I don't seem to have the strength I once did in my leg.
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