I had a ruptured disc at L5-S1 5 years ago, which due to a lumbar spine stenosis cut the nerves and caused loss of nerve sensation and bowel and bladder function. After an emergency lumbar laminectomy (no fusion) I slowly regained about 85% of nerve function and bladder function. I did not regain bowel function and have needed to use laxatives regularly since. I retained some numbness in my left foot and calf and to a lesser degree in my right. After working hard for five years to fully compensate, I began having recurring symptoms about 4 months ago, which included increasing thigh and saddle area weakness, along with more difficulty having bowel movements. I have had to strain more during bowel movements, which might be aggravating my back problems. Colonoscopy and GI series have ruled out intestinal obstructions. I have since had two lumbar MRIs with contrast and a thoracic and cervical MRI, as well as a lateral lumbar spine x-ray with flexion extension. The results indicate slight herniations in two lumbar discs and considerable scar tissue, but everyone is certain it is not enough to cause the new symptoms. The cervical MRI indicates moderate thecal sac compression at C3-C4 and C6-C7 along with mild compression at C5-C6 and C4-C5 due to spinal stenosis and osteophypte formation. I am having an EMG/NCV next week. The full bowel and particularly the bowel movements seriously increase the leg weakness. How can bowels affect nerves and cause leg weakness? Is it probable that the cervical stenosis is causing the leg and bowel problems, or is it more likely to be lumbar?
When a person has to strain to have a bowel movement, this can increase the pressure within the spinal canal, and can make disc bulges temporarily worse. Therefore, this may indicate that the cervical discs are adding to your symptoms. However, without examining you I cannot determine what type of nerve dysfunction you are having. Perhaps a second opinion at a large academic spine center, such as the one at the Cleveland Clinic, would be reasonable. They can evaluate you, review your tests, and then make some recommendations. Good luck.
The Content on this Site is presented in a summary fashion, and is intended to be used for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be and should not be interpreted as medical advice or a diagnosis of any health or fitness problem, condition or disease; or a recommendation for a specific test, doctor, care provider, procedure, treatment plan, product, or course of action. MedHelp is not a medical or healthcare provider and your use of this Site does not create a doctor / patient relationship. We disclaim all responsibility for the professional qualifications and licensing of, and services provided by, any physician or other health providers posting on or otherwise referred to on this Site and/or any Third Party Site. Never disregard the medical advice of your physician or health professional, or delay in seeking such advice, because of something you read on this Site. We offer this Site AS IS and without any warranties. By using this Site you agree to the following Terms and Conditions. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.