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Back and leg sensations and no known cause


I am a 20 year old lady, suffering from intermittent lower back pain including pain/tingling/numbness/hot/cold feelings in my legs (both of them).

It all started at 17 after I had a really nasty virus that made me so sick my mom even decided to sleep with me to keep an eye on me. The symptoms I had with this virus were vomiting, very high temperature, aches and severe pain that went from the top of my neck (Cervical) all the way down my spine and legs to the tips of my toes and my mom said that I was hallucinating badly.

I've never been the same since - I now have to limit everything I do to cope with the back and legs that have never recovered from this.

My doctor (general family doctor) sent me to physio without even investigating the cause of the pain and disability but I found the physio sessions, as I've heard quite a few people do, made it worse so I couldn't carry on as I felt that it wasn't worth it so I got discharged. I then went back and asked to be referred to a spine surgeon.

The things that now start my pain and leg sensations off are standing too long, sitting too long, walking distances, bending i.e. to empty or unload the dishwasher. The things that help to relieve the symptoms are resting, lying down and avoiding all the things that I know will start it off as I'll be in pain for at least a week if I do start it off.

I have had an MRI of my lumbar spine which is where the majority of my back pain comes from and it came back as not showing my nerves as being trapped which in itself was good news but also a little confusing as now I don't know why I have leg sensations if my nerve is not apparently trapped. The only thing the MRI showed was disc degeneration at grade 3 in the L2/L3 region with a Schmorls node.

I then had a CT scan of my L4/L5 to look for any fractures and it came back ok as such apart from suggesting that there is evidence of a healed pars defect at the L3 level.

The surgeons I've seen don't know why I am in pain and have leg involvement as they say that the imaging results are 'normal' even though I'm young to have degenerated discs. My imaging studies have mentioned on the reports that it is unusual for a person of this young age to have as degenerated discs as me.

Why would I be getting pain/sensations down my legs if there is no nerve involvement on the MRI? Is there maybe something else that could be causing this?

Is it possible that there may be nerve involvement higher up my spine in the Thoracic and Cervical areas that could be causing my leg sensations?

Also, is it possible for a healed pars defect to still cause pain of the back and legs after it has healed?

Perhaps it is something else causing these problems?

I am really confused and don't knw what is wrong with me still even after seeing spine surgeons. They have basically told me "There is nothing we can do. You'll have to live with it." and that's a little hard to take in as I don't want to be crippled just because they can't find anything obvious.

Thanks very much for any help or advice anyone can give. It's much appreciated. :)


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st. louis, MO