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How can a degenerated disc regenerate?

foreverpain123foreverpain123 Alberta, CanadaPosts: 25
It can't... Right?

So 4 1/2 years ago in March 2014 I had an mri done which showed a small right paracentral herniation at L5-S1. I was unaware of this herniation until I moved to the city and visited a new doc in Feb 2016 for my worsening back pain. He told me of the herniation and also figured I had arthritis so he refers me to a spine specialist. The specialist re-examined my MRI from 2014 and told me I also have degenerative disc disease with my L5-S1 being over 50% gone, lumbar arthritis/facet joint arthritis, severe L5 nerve root impingement and spinal stenosis. At the time I seen the spine specialist in July 2016 I had every single painful symptom that comes along with all those issues and the numbness and tingling in my low back, hip, butt, legs and feet. I did not however have any bladder problems. 2 days ago I was walking down a small set of stairs and I wet myself enough to soak through to my cotton pants and leave a big wet spot. That evening I noticed my whole groin area and inner thighs were numb so I went to see my family doc today to ask him about my new symptoms he said they were serious and mentioned possible CES and I needed to go to emerg. So I did. After a painfully (literally.. sitting kills me) long wait sitting in the waiting room I was taken in and eventually examined by a doctor he also thought CES. He tested the feeling in my legs, I had some but not much. He did all the strength tests where you have to resist when they push your foot or leg, up or down didn't do well at all on those and then he checked my rectal tone and it was very weak and he said that was very concerning and he ordered an emergency MRI. After another painfully long wait I had the MRI done and a couple hours later the results came back normal. Pardon me? I asked my doctor. He says there are no abnormalities in the spine and that my spine is in unremarkable condition he showed me the mri report. 4 lines. That's it. 4 lines of everything's fine. I asked him how can that be because I have DDD and my one disc was over 50% gone. He said I don't know what to tell you but everything's fine, even the herniation you had is gone. Maybe do some exercises to strengthen the muscles as its probably just a muscular poblem. Other then that you are free to go. I burst out of that emergency room in tears. Not because I was diagnosed with some emergency syndrome but because after 9 hours in emerg I was told I was fine and there is absolutely nothing wrong with my spine. I am going for a second opinion to see my spine specialist and I'm going to have him look at the MRI. 


Has anyone been through anything similar going from several back issues to being fine and it actually being fine. 

I'm beyond frustrated. I'm tired of being dimissed. Most look at my age not my symptoms :neutral:" alt=":neutral:" height="20" /> 
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Comments

  • MarWinMarWin OhioPosts: 654
    Wow. What gives? I'm sure if you show that MRI to 5 different specialists you'll get 5 very different answers. That's the problem with specialists is that they focus too much on their specialty. If they're not a specialist they seem to have a generic or go-to answer. "It's DDD" or "Arthritis". Either way, it all leads to mis-diagnosis or at the least inconsistent diagnosis'. All of this puts you in a bad position.

    From what you're describing it sounds like you're suffering with sciatic symptoms and pelvic floor dysfunctions. Having had the sciatica from a bulging disc, and some degenerative discs, I had to learn that it wasn't the disc bulging/degenerating as much as it was the vertebrae compressing the discs. Vertebrae are bone. What moves bone? Muscle! That's when I started looking at my muscles being the culprit. Whenever a doctor says it's muscular, they're on to something for sure. But then they offset it with telling you to do some strengthening exercises. 

    Do you have any pelvic tilt happening? Anterior or Posterior Tilt? That may give you clues as to which muscles aren't performing or those that are over-performing. I personally would steer clear of strengthening exercises. Since your muscles may be imbalanced, strengthening would only lead them to be stronger, but still imbalanced. 

    I'm very sorry you're having to deal with this. One thing about DDD, in my view, is that if one disc has it, then why don't all of them have it? They're all the same age aren't they? 
  • WLLadyWLLady Ontario CanadaPosts: 844
    I definitely think you need a second opinion!!!!  Numbness on the saddle area (that parts of you that would contact a saddle if you were riding a horse) is an emergency.  My surgeon told me that discs don't regenerate-they scar, compress, lose liquid and eventually stabilize if they aren't too bad-mine are too bad, and won't, they'll fragment etc.  I'm bone on bone in 2 places, and was told unequivocally the muscle strengthening should only be done with a good physiotherapist-and that I would probably do more harm than good if i try to strengthen my spinal muscles, so to work on core strength instead-abdominals and hips and lats etc.  At the least your MRI should have shown the same disc issues i would have thought-or at least said something like "no significant differences from previous findings"...not normal...!  I'm glad you are going for a second opinion. 
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  • foreverpain123foreverpain123 Alberta, CanadaPosts: 25
    I understand that the herniated disc can heal but the spine docs showed me all the levels my discs were degenerated at and it just doesn't seem right to be told the discs are unremarkable
  • MarWinMarWin OhioPosts: 654
    Have you come up with your next course of action?
  • foreverpain123foreverpain123 Alberta, CanadaPosts: 25
    I have an appointment booked with my spine specialist on Monday. When I called in and talked to his receptionist even she was like ya um no that's not right. There's no way there's nothing there.
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  • MartySmithMartySmith Toronto, CanadaPosts: 31
    Probably just a typo Tiffany, but the first line of your first post in this thread says "So 4 1/2 years ago in March 2014" That sounds like you meant 2.5 years? Did you get any answers from your spine specialist? 
  • foreverpain123foreverpain123 Alberta, CanadaPosts: 25
    Your right. Supposed to be 2 and a half years. And no I did not.  He is referring me to a neurologist now so once again I'm in the waiting period. 
  • I also agree that doctors can interpret MRI many ways and this can be nerve wracking. I wouldn't put too much into an ER doc's interpretation since they don't specialize in spinal problems. Was the MRI done with or without contrast? Is your pain being treated while you're waiting to see the neurologist? 
  • foreverpain123foreverpain123 Alberta, CanadaPosts: 25
    Without contrast. They also had my knees propped up majorly which I think in theory would relieve pressure on the disc and stuff and not show accurately how bad it is but who knows. I seen my spine physician after and he looked at the mri and I still have all the spine problems. The disc didn't regenerate the ER doc was clueless. And no I'm not on anything. The spine doc put me on Lyrica but that was awful for me so I stopped. The best thing for me was tramadol and tramacet but it interacts badly with my anti depressants and it makes me nervous taking them together so I don't.  
  • MarWinMarWin OhioPosts: 654
    Same symptoms? New symptoms? I am of the opinion that impingement's change because the body continuously changes, hence changes in symptoms as well as what imaging may show. If you're still having symptoms/pain, I don't see how anyone could've expected the disc to regenerate. What protocols were you given in order to help the disc to regenerate? It is my understanding a discs survival is based on movement. The vertebrae compression and decompression are what feeds nutrients and hydration into the disc. Take away movement and the vertebrae stay locked into one position, compression, then the disc starts to degenerate.  
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