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Lumbar Disk Problems
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Lumbar Disk Problems

First of all, let me thank you for the wonderful service you provide. My question is somewhat of a personal nature concerning effects of a herniated L5-S1 disk. How common are erectile difficulties with this particular injury? I find that I have lost sensation in the penis. Will surgery to correct the disk restore full nerve function? As you can imagine, this has me quite concerned. All my neurosurgeon will say is 'Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't"  Thank you again for your opinion.
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Dear Freddy:

Sorry to hear about your disc problem.  What you are asking about is likely not due to L5/S1 herniation.  The herniation would have to be pretty severe with compromise of the cord itself.  The area in question is in S3/S4 if I remember correctly.  The sensation and erection problem may be located somewhere else, either athroscleroisis, or sympathetic and parasympathetic derived nerves from the sacral plexus.  If you have long term diabetes or use alcohol chronically these might feed into the problem.  I would see a good neurologist or urologist.

Sincerely,

CCF Neuro MD
24 Comments
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Thank you for your prompt response. The herniation is quite severe with associated sciatica and foot drop/diminished reflex. Are the effects from moderate alcohol consumption reversable in this particular problem if it indeed turns out to be a contributing factor?
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Hiya;s i noticed the problem your having with your spine .. and i was wondering exactly what injuries to the spine can cause i had a motorcycle accident about 3 years ago .. and since then my life has progressivly been getting wierder and more painful.. my question is can a dislocated c2 vertabrea cause vertigo/ dizzyness accompanied by head pain..
Hope you fine the root of your problems
Sincerly..
KP
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thanks for the comment.

CCF Neuro MD
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Dear Freddy,
The symtoms (symptoms) you describe are familiar to me.  I had a herniated L5-S1 disk causing 85% compromise of the cord.  I devoloped a 15-20% loss of sensation and difficulty in getting an erection. Also I had radicular pain in the buttock as well as numbness in the buttock, hamstring, heel and right side of the right foot.  I had surgery 12/30/99, after 10 days I regained most if not all of the sensitivity back and I can obtain erections more easily.  The numbness in the buttock and hamstring went away.  However I developed severe numbness in the calf area, which I had not had before surgery and it has not improved. The numbness in the foot is a little bit worse.  I hope you find a solution to you problem and that this information helps you or someone else.
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Thanks, Wayne.
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I hope things are getting straightened out.  (Oops, no pun intended)

CCF Neuro MD
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I am a 22 yr old female,who has suffered from severe back and leg pain since Feb.1999. I had an MRI in April 99 that showed digeneritive disc disease and a large tear in L5S1. I also had a EMG that was normal. My pain started on the right buttocks,down the right leg, with numbness in my right foot. The pain is now across the hole lower back, down both legs,numbness in the right foot, burning and spazems in thighs,and pressure in my tail bone.I can't stand sit or lay for long periods.Walking is the only thing I can do with minimal pain. I have tried drug therapy,physical therapy,steriod injections,and epidural injections all without relief. The Doctors say that a new procedure called IDET could help but the only problem with that is my insuance won't cover it ,and I can't afford to pay for it. My last option is a Spinal Fusion. I am afraid of the surgery because the succes rate is so low and I am so young.
Do you have any other recommendations or do you think surgery is my only option? Will I have to be with this pain the rest of my life or could this get better?Thank you for your time,and opinion you have would be greatly appreciated.
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They're straight, just numb.........
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Dear Karen D:

It really sounds like your last option is surgery.  One can only do what your capable of doing and if your insurance will not cover the procedure then either you have surgery or pay out of pocket.  I think I would also just make sure that surgery is the only option, although it sounds like it is.  Get a second opinion and while there ask the neurologist or neurosurgeon their opinion about the procedure.  They will have examined you and seen the films and will better able to tell you about the procedure and your particular problem.

Sincerely,

CCF Neuro MD
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Hi I am in desperate need of help.  I am a 30 year old female and I have 2 degenerated discs that also are herniated and pinching nerves.  The offending discs are L3/4 and L4/5.  I have pain down my tailbone and into my buttocks that radiates sometimes around my hips and to my stomach.  I also have a burning pain that radiates down my right leg to my kneecap and a a sharp pain that radiates down my left leg to my kneecap and my left calf.  The pain on my left side feels like somone is giving me little electrical shocks all the time and my left calf pain is almost always there.  I am on disability from my job and I cannot drive the pain gets too bad.  I cannot sit or stand for lond or the pain will get too bad.  Not even percocet will take away the pain when I am having an "attack".  I have had this pain off and on over the past 6 months since I had my baby and I can not function as a normal person anymore.  I have seen a orthopedic surgeon and a spine specialist who both say decompression surgery but the spinal surgeon is not convinced that it will take away my lower back pain/tailbone pain because he isn't sure if it is nerve interference or displaced pain from my degenerated discs.  What should I do?  I am scared to death that I will have surgery and I will not be able to lead a normal life again.  I have been through Physical Therapy two times and I know my only option or hope is surgery.  Should I see a neurosurgeon?  Do you think a neurosurgeon could give me more of an idea as to the nerve pain ?? Please help me - i am not able to take care of my baby and he is growing up - I want to get better - ANY ADVICE IS WELCOME!!!!
time running out-
Thanks-
Jennifer
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In early November I fell off a 3' step ladder striking the dirt very oddly ,needless to say very hard.  I went to my orthopedic surgeon telling him of the accident.  Went through the normal procedures of xrays, styroids, and neck traction.  Finally had the MRI and it showed ruptured disc in the C4 section of the neck. The day before Thanksgiving I had ACD & D (neck fussion) surgery.Upon awaking the pain was moderate and tollerated with pain medication.  But upon getting up and trying to walk my left leg would give way with no warning and I would fall.  At this time I noticed no feeling in my left leg.  This feeling is numbness from about the belt line to the botton of the foot. I cannot tell the difference between hot and cold.  I can walk but
have no feeling as to where I put my foot.  I told the surgeon of this problem several times and his reply was this is normal and in time the feeling will return to normal.  Finally after many times of complaining another MRI was done with the results showing "buldging disc" in the lumbar area of D4 and D5. The doctors suggestions for treatment was as follows....
A. Rest for 30 more days and hopefully the problem will cure itself.
B. Have an epidural and inject styroids to numb pain. But I under
stand this is only a temporary releif.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I don't know what to do.
I am very leary of injections sense of having surgery and going in with two good legs and now only having one.  The pain in the lower back is very severe ,like a can opener jabbing me on each step I take.  It has now been two months after surgery and no releif of this pain.......Please if anyone can comment on this please do.  Can surgery fix or releive this pain and bring back the feelling to the leg.  The MRI showed that the disc was pressing and totally covering the nerve on the left side of the spine and part of it had chipped off.  Please what am I to do.....
Thanking All.....
Eddie MM
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hi im a 35 year old male, and have a prolapsed l5 s1 which has displaced and compression to the sacral nerve. my symptoms are the usual with the exception of tingling in my penis. wantint to go to the toilet all the time. stimulation causing erections. throbbing and aching can you help
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I have read the above stories of people who have been experiencing back pain and other problems. I am an RN who was hurt on the job in 1996. I went for a year undergoing epidural steroid injections to try and prevent surgery. However, the pain became so bad that I had  no alternative. I had a lumbar laminotomy with L4-L5 discectomy. I have permanent nerve damage in my left leg, which I assume will never go away as it has been over 3 years since the surgery. Are there any cases where this nerve damage has reversed itself after this long. I also have pain every day in my low back with radiculopathy in the left leg. Any suggestions for management of chronic pain as doctors these days seem reluctant to prescribe adequate pain medication for fear of addiction. It is terrible though to live each day of your life in pain. My heart goes out to all who suffer from the same types of conditions.I am 45, and it has been very difficult. I can't imagine being in my 20's and having this happen. Thank the Lord for the time being I can still work as I got a job as an NICU nurse at a childrens hospital, and I can certainly lift those tiny babies without further injury to my back, but I guess it will never be the same again, right?
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I am a 25 year old female who has been seeing a chiropractor for close to a year now due to lumbar pain. The pain radiates from my lower back into the tip of my tailbone and sometimes even into my right hip area. I have some tingling in my feet, but not often. Activity worsens the pain. Bending over and getting out of a laying down position is also very painful.

When the chiropractic treatments weren't helping, I was finally sent for an MRI, which I just received results on. Evidentally, I have a moderate L5, S1 disk protrusion which, according to the radiologist, isn't resting on any nerves and shouldn't be causing any pain. Until recently, this had my chiropractor (and me, for that matter) stumped as to what could be causing my constant pain. After doing some research and looking at my MRI film, my chiro told me that the pain is probably coming from my posterior longtitudinal ligament - the disc protrusion is resting against this. Not to mention that my lower back is severely swayed - my sacrum is at about a 50 degree angle, which only pinches and puts pressure on the disc protrusion (which lies at the apex of this angle).

She gave me three choices for treatment: 1) I can continue with her chiropractic treatment using a combination of the *flexion and distraction* method and adjustments to my sacrum (to alleviate the sway).  2) I can start seeing a physical therapist 3) Or I can seek no treatment and hope that through moderate exercise the protrusion will begin to recede.    

I know it is difficult for you to make assumptions without seeing my test results, but I'm hoping you can give me some direction. I have lived with this pain for over a year now, and although it really limits my activity levels, it is not debilitating. Should I get on with my life and hope that this disc doesn't herniate, or should I seek treatment for this so that I can avoid possible future complications? If you believe treatment is the best option, which route do you think I should go? Also, do you agree with the theory that this longtitudinal ligament is what could be causing my pain?

Sorry to make this so long, but I appreciate any answers you can give. I'd LOVE to start feeling my age again! And thank you in advance!!!!
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Dear Heather:

Sorry to hear about your back pain.  All your discs in the spine lie on the ligament.  They are not attached to it but all lie against it. I would seek out a good PT and rehab physician and begin good rehab exercises.  Correct bad habit of lifting, bending, carrying, sitting, standing, and loose weight if your overweight.  Reduce anyting that increases axail load (no heavy things on your head) like weight lifting with bad form.

Sincerely,

CCF Neuro MD
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I've had a fusion of the C-5/6 &C-6/7 with plateing and screws
and still have quite moderate pain in the neck, arms and down the center of my back, since all this work was done.
I underwent a C/T mylogram and this showed that I have two discs in the area of L-4/5 messed up.
I always had right leg and hip pain before any sugeries, and it would clear up after the prior surgeries.
Is it possible that the Dr. doing the Mylogram may have messed them up because of (5) attempts on inserting the dye, and changeing needle lengths.
I've never been like this until after I had the CT-mylogram?
  I had a Ct Mylogram back in 1991, and my lower back was fine then, incidently, I have't been working since my Injury of my neck, so an injury of this nature would seem unlikely.
  Does someone have any ideas?  Thank you
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This is for Freddy.  In August of 1997, my husband was injured on the job.  He developed exactly the same problems you're encountering, due to a herniated disc at L-5, S-1.  Radiating pain through his left buttock, down the left thigh and calf, and in the left heel.  As it progressively worsened due to inaction because of a stalling Work-Comp insurance company, the left calf became numb, and developed the drop-foot mentioned by Wayne, accompanied by numbness on the left side of his penis.  Surgery (micro-discectomy) was finally approved, and performed in Nov.  Almost immediately after the surgery, the numbness in his penis was gone.  Within 6-8 months after the surgery, and some PT, he slowly recovered function in his left calf.  Thank God we had a wonderful neurosurgeon who did a great job.  He confirmed that the problems my husband was experiencing were related to the injury.  
He also freed me from 12 years of neck pain and problems with fusion of 2 cervical discs.  The right doctor is DEFINITELY the key!
Hang in there, Freddy, and push for correction of the problem, not obfuscation of it by medication.  Good luck!
Brenda
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Hi,
I am 38 years old and recently diagnosed with a 9mm hermiated disc and a pinched nerve - via MRI.  Aside from the obvious back pain, the symptom that is bothering me most is that the left side of my left leg has been numb for a week.  This is really scary.  I've been to an ortho. surgeon and saw a neuro surgeon today for a second opinion.  He suggests doing another, more detailed test (the name of which which I can't recall) which lasts 6 hours and then I am to stay in bed for 24 hours afterward.  He then says I'll probably have to have surgery anyway.  Does this test seem necessary? I'm also scheculed for a second epidural injection (the first one did very, very little).  My biggest worry is that I might have lasting nerve damage/numbness in my foot.  How long can I let this go before I have to worry about permanent damage? Also, if I do the disc surgery, who is normally more qualified to perform the operation - a neuro surgeon or an orthopedic?

thanks.
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I have had two lower back operations due to herniated disks.  While they were relatively successful, my active lifestyle has caused another occurrence of the problem.  I am 27 yrs old and not wanting another surgery, I looked for alternative treatment.  I underwent a lumbar decompression treatment with great success.  It is called VAX-d.  I suggest you check the website at www.vax-d.com.
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I have been reading the postings for lower back pain.  My advise to all after a recent L5 disk surgery would be if the pain is in your left leg etc. The best advise is lots of walking, exercises to strengthen the back muscles that support the spine.  If you have a herniated disk and choose to live with the pain as I did and ignored it you eventually will lift that wrong item and although you are in pain one day you will be mobile and the next hour totally immobile with no option but surgery.  Sitting in an office chair is one of the worst things you can do for herniated disks and back problems!  I am slowly recovering from the surgery and actually doing quite well, however I never realized the recovery period would truly be the 18 - 24 months in which the doctor said before the surgery.  My disk was herniated however when it ruptured the surgeon said:  Your options are; well there are no options you must have surgery.

For women young and old with children,  you must learn to stoop down to lift them,  the worst thing you can do is constantly bend over without bending your knees.  Due to the way men and women are built it seems men automatically learn how to lift heavy items however women always seem to want to bend over instead of stooping.  Very important in order to keep a healthy back!

Good luck to all of you!
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have had low back pain for 30 years from an injury L4L5S1 am now having problems C6C7 numbness in right arm is there any conection between problems in the lower back and problems with the neck
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hi-this is for those that have no help or relief and surgery or more of it is a maybe. go to a benny hinn crusade.dinintergrated discs have been made whole/AIDS totally healed as well as every form of cancer and some blind now see and deaf hear. true miracles including about 20 out of every 100 wheechair bound people are healed and walking.i think a search or maybe www.bennyhinn.org will get you started. in foreign countries a million people walk days to receive a miracle from God.do a search and check him out.GO AND ASK GOD TO PROVE HIMSELF. Jesus
is the same yesterday, today and forever.Give God a chance. he loves you and has made a provision for your healing already. a former diabetic totally healed by Word of God
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I would like to know what the procedure called IDET for correction of a ruptured disk is. Could you please explain it to me. I'm told it consists of putting needles in the disk then running hot wires into the needles. This is suppose to cause swelling. I would be put into a full body cast. Is this a new procedure and whar are the odds of it fixing my problem?
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