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vacuum phenomena
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vacuum phenomena

what does vacuum phenomena of the disc in the spine mean and what is the cause and treatment if any?
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You know I am wondering exactly the same thing.  I had MRI done on july 14, 2000, and it reads:
clinical history - neurogenic claudication.  rule out lateral recess stenosis particuarly on the Left side   CT from L1 to S1.
Findings - at L1-2 level there is no evidence of focal disc protrusion.  No signficant degenerative changes.
L2-3 and L3-4 is the same as L1-2.
At L4-5 there is a broad based disk bulge which extends in the lateral recess to THE left quite significantly.  though the neural formina are not opitimally visualizd by ct I suspect significant narrowing.  clinical correlation is suggest.  
At l5 S1 no disk protrusion, no canal narrowing or neural forminal narrowing.  However, this is asymmetric enlargemnt of the left unexited nerve root.  Again clinical correlation is suggested.  There is noted vacuum phenomenon in the left sacroiliac joint indicating moderate/severe degererative changes.  Facet degenative changes noted in the lower lumbar levels.

Impression  broad based disk at the L4-5 level which extends laterally to the left , likely causing significant narrowing of the neural foramen at that level.  clinical correlation suggested.

I was told nothing wrong with me at time. I just asked my doctor for a copy of the report because I am continue to have real problems with low back (had 2 cervcial fusions in past last one 1990 non-union) and I found from previous experience that I am going to listen to my body not any doctor or medical professional without rendering a diagnosis after conducting diagnostic tests.  I got screwed by my doctor for 8 years telling me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with my neck, I merely was suffering from "muscle spasms" and to take soma ( muscle relaxant) for nearly 8 years.  I finally ended up in ER one weekend where the ER doctor said " I can tell you exactly what is wrong with you without even ordering an MRI.  You have a herniated disc and you need to see your primary care doctor on Monday demanding that he refer to NS or for MRI immediately."  I did this and unforunatley the damage was done.  I had waited too long for the surgery for "DISC HERNIATION C6-7 CENTRAL AND RIGHT WITH  SPINAL CORD DEFORMITY AND IMPINGEMENT UPON THE EXITING RIGHT C7 NERVE ROOT.  C4-5 AND C5-6 CONSISTENT WITH FROMINCENNE OF ANNULI, DIFFERENTIAL AT C5-6 SMALL CONTAINED CENTRAL DISC HERNIATION.

However, since 2000 my symtoms (symptoms) have increased 200 fold and so I asked for copy of MRI done in 2000 and now I know why i am having problems. Its been 9 years and I am certain that my lumbar spine hasn't reversed and improved since I am nearly 54 years old now.  I would listen to your body, demand that your doctor refer you to specialist and get to the core of the problem.  I learned the hard way and as a result EMG studies and Mylogram that verified there was filling defect involving teh c5 c6 cervical nerve roots on the left.  I was told that had surgery been done sooner that haveing to wait for nearly 9 years I would not have any type of impairment as a result of first fusion.  
We all need to listen to our bodies.  Doctors are not in them, they cannot feel what we feel, and we all need to make sure that we are given the right tests and treatment to prevent permanent damage to our bodies that could have overwise been avoided with prompt medical care and treatment, not delaying diagnostic testing to pacify our "the patients" subjective complaints".

its been 9 years now since last MRI and I continue to have severe pressure in lumbar spine when I stand or walk any distance, it is relieved by sitting or leaning forward my left buttock, hip and front of my thigh has pain to the knee. Both feet burn terribly the majority of the time I haven't a clue whether this is related to my spine at all but I will find out exactly what the heck is causing my feet to burn, swell, turn beet red, before I get up off of the doctor's waiting room floor again.  I will camp out there if need be until I am provided with objective findings to my subjective complaints.  

I was just wondering if anyone knew whether or not the MRI done in 2000 should have been folllowed with further clinical correlation and if anyone has any ideas as to whether or not they feel my currently complaints match what the MRI results revealed in 2000.  Shouldn't I be persistent or should I leave things along and jump off of the highest bridge around.  I am sick of not being able to walk, stand, sit, laugh, smile and enjoy life anymore.  I am only 53 and I don't believe I should feel the way I do.  Any comments from anyone about anything would be greatly appreciated.  any insight into personal experiences would be of fantastic value to me as well

THANK YOU ALL FOR LISTENING.

LINDA J. PORTLAND OREGON  
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi Linda,
I am three weeks out of my fourth back surgery, third on lumbar spine.  I am an active 47 year old woman with a full time job as an instructional aide working with 8th graders who qualify for Learning Support.  My first surgery was a microdisctomy on my RT L5 S1 in 2000 after 8 years of suffering a "bad back" busy with two small children, In 2003 I had an ACDF  C5-7.  I had another discetomy on my right side (second time) in 2011.  Most recently I had a hemilanectomy, drilling on a bone spur on my RT L5-S1 (again!!!) and a severe disc herniation at L4/5 on my LT side.  Vacuum phenomenon on both levels.  My doctor said he never saw a bone spur grow down like that.  In any case, that's my history of course which include too many supports to get through here.  I would recommend that if you are symptomatic on the same level that you had prior surgery, you could have arthritis, bony spurs and who knows what else.  I would go to a really good pain management doctor and see a neursurgeon immediately to make sure there isn't permanent nerve damage (which I also have on my right leg because I waited 8 years after my first episode severe pain down my leg dumb a**)

Sorry I blathered on and on...Definitely revisit both docs to see what's up because if he didn't remove all of your disc the first time,  the rest may have herniated as well.

Good luck to you.  

Barb
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