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Herniated Disk Compounded with suspect spinal cyst
Posted: Mon Sep 03, 2007 11:07 am
Here's a brief description of my problem:
Diagnosed with herniated disk at L5/S1 with an inflamed sciatic nerve. Was literally on crutches for two weeks due to severe pain (12 on a scale of 1-10). Couldn't sit, stand, walk, or sleep comfortably. Pain meds prescribed did nothing to relieve the pain. Found that I could sit in my home office chair with my leg propped up to give me an ounce of relief and this is how I've been able to sleep. Was sent to a neurosurgeon who reviewed the MRI, agreed with the original diagnoses, indicated Phys Ther would probably help, but on the MRI he also saw what he thinks could be a cyst in the same area. He kept asking me if my right leg was giving me trouble, no it was my left. Told me based on the MRI, my right leg plus potential of bowel and urinary problems should be happening. Would not give me a treatment plan for the sciaitica fearing it would aggravate the cyst causing bigger problems. So, sent me in for a mylegram with CT. Good news is my inflamed sciatic nerve has finally settled down. Able to walk, not taking any meds, if it wasn't for the 'cyst' I'd say I was 95% better and could actually begin an exercise program as described here on the website. But am pretty spooked about the cyst until I see him again. Unfortunately due to Labor Day, next appt is not till Friday.
Has anything like this ever happened to anyone else? Never been this sick or in this much pain in my 50 plus years. Suspected final straw that set everything off was throwing grandkids around in a swimming pool.
Posted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 8:30 pm
You can find out more about spinal cysts (also called synovial cysts) at spine-health.com (clic on Dean's "Resources" above), or google "spinal cysts". Apparently there are several different treatment options for these cysts, depending on the pain you are experiencing.
Looks like good news, if you're feeling much better with time, and have not had to do anything about the cyst. Some folks have them with no problems (like some folks have bulging discs with no problems).
Personally, I'd want to talk with another doc more familiar with these cysts. An experienced doc shouldn't be "spooked" by such a well-known dysfunction, but should be able to offer different treatment options and their associated risks and benefits.
Having fun, swimming with the kids, shouldn't have hurt you, even as a grandparent, unless your back was out of shape (easy to do, even if you're a fitness fanatic). Dean's ebook on rebuilding your back, and his articles, might be worth your reading to see how you can have fun with your grandkids in the future, without fearing back pain.
Posted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 4:10 am
Thanks for the feedback. Am feeling better now. Have embarked on a short business trip after 3 weeks of intense rest and low to moderate activity. Testing my mobility and trying to gauge cause / effect. For example the three hour drive yesterday indicated strong possiblity of reaggravating the nerve without stopping every hour and forcing myself to walk around for 5-10 minutes.
To clarify a few points...I am spooked by the cyst, not the Dr. (he's a leading Neurosurgeon in the community) and has not ruled out shadows, artifacts or a smudge on the MRI films. Thus he ordered the mylegram which I will get interpreted tomorrow. It's also possible, the cyst has been there for many years with no impact. So I feel good that if it's there, it can now be charted for growth in the future.
Regarding swimming - I fully agree it should not have caused the sciatica pain. Prior to the sciatica attack, I had been swimming up to a 1/2 mile every other day as part of my workout routine. I think it was the act of having them climb up on my shoulders and I would throw them which aggravated the situation. Compound this with moving some very heavy furniture the day before and a six hour car trip the week before. Also I think the L5 issue is chronic and has been problematic for over 30 years. For example, everytime I played golf, would always feel lower left back pain, which would respond to alleve or motrin and be gone in a few days.
Will be downloading Dean's books over the weekend. Waiting on paypal to get fully verified before proceeding.
My observation - I need to strengthen my lower back, be more aware of doing things which could be an aggravator and keep an eye on any symptoms which may or may not come up as a result of the 'phantom or confirmed' cyst.
As mentioned, this ordeal and its severity caught me totally off guard. In the last 3 weeks, have done an inordinate amount of research regarding cause / effect / cure / prevention. Not a fan of taking pills, spending time with Dr's etc. with exception of having good images shot and some coaching via Physical Therapy or Sports coaches.
Thanks again for your comments. This is what I love about the 'web'.
Posted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 6:30 am
Hello again, Beet
I was also "caught ... totally off guard" by sciatica (2 years ago, at age 52), after having had nothing much worse than a cold or two every other year, and doing all the supposed "right" things to stay healthy (many of which, however, were all wrong). I will never be the same, even though my body and I seem to have worked together well the last 2 years to whip the sciatica. That shock 2 years ago made me realize, at a gut level, that I was mortal, and severely under-educated on health, nutrition and medicine.
Looking back to my pre-sciatica days, I can see I was pretty much a medical idiot. I had a lot to un-learn, and learn for the first time. The subsequent two years of personal, medical research have only enhanced my respect for Dean's e-books. I was lucky to blunder onto Dean's work early in my sciatica journey. The books are wonderfully, simply written, yet present a core of powerful, therapeutic ideas, that worked well for me, and his exercises still form the core of my daily exercising. There have been, of course, other helpful books (e.g. Drs Stuart McGill and John Sarno were personally helpful), but nothing I've learned from others seems to contradict what Dean presents in his books.
I hope you enjoy the book(s) you've downloaded as much as I have. Rebuilding your back is not a required class in life for everybody ... but I'm sure glad I got to take it so I can wholeheartedly play with my kids now, and, without fear, handle all those unexpected physical burdens on my back.
I hope you'll keep us posted on your progress, and especially on that spinal/synovial cyst. They are apparently rare enough to not be covered in my Merck Manual.
Sciatica and Cyst
Posted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 8:59 am
Dr's final report is all good. Cyst is trivial. Source of sciatica problem was confirmed as a slight herniation, but my nerve got inflamed and swelle causing intense impingement. Continue rest with slow addition of exercise plus return to my lap swimming routine. Phys Therapy will start in October.
Bottom line - 5 weeks of pure hell. Non invasive plan moving forward. Pretty much on my shoulders now on how to manage and improve.
Thanks / Beet
Posted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 9:20 pm
Yes, that IS really good news, Beet.
Has your doctor recommended any activity before you start PT in Oct? Is experimenting with the basic RYB exercises contra-indicated?
Any rest beyond that necessary to allow inflamed, tight or spasming muscles to return to near normal (so it doesn't hurt too much to use them) is usually not productive for heaing. Healing seems to come as the body's response to the gradually increasing demands we place on it to increase flexibility and strength. That seemed pretty weird to me when I began rebuilding my back a couple years ago after onset of my sciatica ... but resting too much definitely hinders healing. Maybe you already know this, but the natural inclination for a lot of folks (me, too, back then) is to baby our backs for fear of worsening an already bad situation ... but we need to be more like nagging coaches, and push ourselves a bit more each day. As you said: how, and how much we improve really is on our shoulders.
Posted: Sun Sep 09, 2007 3:39 am
Regarding 'rest' - we're on the same page. As I'm a pretty active person, I asked the Dr what he meant. Basically don't play golf, baseball, lift anything over 50 lbs, etc. etc. Learned my lesson 20 years ago when I hurt my shoulder and took it upon myself to 'protect it' by not using it much. Created more problems as the muscles and ligaments weakened causing them to reduce their ability to hold my bones apart.
So, in the Dr's defense, he wants to make sure I don't prematurely inflame the nerve again and reactivate the original problem.
Moving forward, I interpreted his comments as 'push ahead, but don't overdue it for a few more weeks'.
He was also overwhelmed with my level of recovery in such a short period of time. Indicated that many of his younger patients with same conditions take up to 3-5 months to get back to where I was in 5 weeks. Severe, to moderate, to workable, to just a low level mild pain.
Thanks / Beet