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Suffer degenerative disc disease with cervical and lumber spinal stenosis. Received epidurel and injections. Have osteopenia. What should I do?

Jul 2013
User rating for this question
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Answered by

Orthopaedic Surgeon, Joint Replacement
Practicing since : 1996
Answered : 2148 Questions
i was medically retired from the civil service due to degenerative disc desease with cervical and lumber spinal stenosis 12 years ago. my neurosurgeon said at the time my chances were only 45% with possible wheelchair use if operated on, he said i had the back of a 70 year old women.
i recieved lumber epidurel and approx 8 injections around top of back for some years. i now have osteopenia. at the moment my GP prescribes gabapentin, co-codomal with diazapam. i went for review over a year ago and a new neuorsurgeon couldn't understand why i didn't have the operation on diagnosis. i explained the percentage to him etc and that i thought it best as did my neurosurgeon at the time not the operate. he said he would see me again if needed. this last 2 years have been getting more and more difficult for me. i have pain in neck, shoulders, left arm numbness with tingling in the hands that have gotten much worse and my passion for reading ( i believe this causes me more intense pain in left leg and upper neck and back ) and doing anything really. my lower spine affects me in many ways, sitting propped with pillows, weak legs, lately my feet are very painful as i feel i am walking over tiny stones in my bare feet. the ball of the right foot goes into terrible cramp type pain and i have to take my shoes off and stand on flat surface for it to return to normal (embarrasing!) i find it hard to lift anything of significant weight, with general weakness throughout the body. my posture is beginning to very quickly in the last 6 months stoop forward. i also have a curvature around my bra strap. i really hate this life, i worked for 30 years as a full time civil servant at the same time as having four children and also worked for 2 charities. i was a bit of a workaholic but was so fit there just weren't enought hours in the day for me and i enjoyed this life very much. i hate always being at home, hate housework of any kind, hate the person i have become as i feel lazy and depressed, i would give anything for a new back, do you think i should take a chance and have an operation? i am barely 7 stone (eat because i have to) i just want to be the happy go lucky person i was again. i am depressed with these pains, i refuse morphine as i know i will never get out of bed. i am 60 years old on 27 october this year. this cold weather has started and i will probably be housebound for most of the winter. i doubt i could live with a wheelchair. should i take a risk? could i have my life back? i live not far from BELFAST and my hospital is THE ROYAL XXXXXXX HOSPITAL in Belfast.
Posted Tue, 15 Oct 2013 in General Health
Answered by Dr. K. Naga Ravi Prasad 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
Yes, Surgery will definitely yield good results.

Detailed Answer:
Hi, thanks for writing to XXXXXXX

After going through your description, I could feel your concern regarding your pain.

As you have been experiencing severe radicular pains in both upper and lower limbs, which signifies a severe compression of the nerve roots in the spinal canal, Surgical decompression will yield promising results. If surgery is delayed for much longer time, there is a chance that you may even develop weakness in the affected muscles apart from numbness.

As newer surgical techniques with minimally invasive procedures are available for the management of spinal disorders, even the post operative recovery will be very fast. So, I definitely recommend you to undergo surgical decompression and lead a happy life without pain & suffering. Ultimately, you have to accept a minimal amount of risk to get a maximum benefit from the surgery.

Hope I have addressed your query. Happy to help further

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Suffer degenerative disc disease with cervical and lumber spinal stenosis. Received epidurel and injections. Have osteopenia. What should I do? 3 hours later
thank you so very much for your reply, just reading it reminds me of how i once had a happy and painfree life. has spinal surgery changed so much over the past 12 years that my operation would be entirely different now from then?
i must mention my muscles throughout the body have already wasted away. i mentioned my foot pains, i am pain free when leaving my home and within a short distance the SOLES ONLY are unbearable especially the ball of the right foot. is this caused by spine or something else? My hands are frozen and numb on a moderately cold day and i cannot seem to be able to use my fingers to write or get money from purse etc as my fingers have no feeling, could this also be the spine? i have a red rash under the skin on the palms of both hands (upper inside palms below wrist when holding toward me) what is this, it goes from pink to red at anytime. would the 'minimal amount of risk' you mention include the possibility of a wheelchair? or would that be only if something went wrong as can happen?
Answered by Dr. K. Naga Ravi Prasad 51 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Foot pain may be due to Arthritis.

Detailed Answer:
Hi, Nice to hear from you.

Yes, there have been revolutionary changes in the field of spinal surgery with Microsurgical and Minimally invasive techniques which yield very good outcomes.

I personally think that your foot pain is not related to Spinal problem. Pain in the sole of the foot especially in the heel part could be due to Plantar fascitis and Pain in the ball of the foot could be due to arthritic changes in the joint. For both these conditions, simple analgesics like Tylenol or Aleve will work efficiently.

Numbness in the hands is purely due to the problems in the Cervical spine (possilbly due to a protruded disc compressing the nerve roots).

To be honest, I am not the right person to comment upon the rash on your palms. You better consult a dermatologist for the same.

Any surgical procedure will carry certain amount of risk in the form of complications which are inherent to the procedure. Likewise, even the spinal surgeries also has certain amount of inherent risk which will be around 3-4% roughly. This indicates that the success rates are around 97%.

To simplify, If you don't undergo any spinal surgery, there is 100% chance that you will end up in muscle weakness in both upper and lower limbs. Whereas if you undergo surgery, there is 97% chance that you will getwell and lead a normal life. So, think about it.

Have a great day.
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