Could I have Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?

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Afternoon everyone. I'm looking for some advice please. I've been suffering with pains in my hips, causing problems with walking and standing. On a bad day the stairs are difficult to climb. This has been going on for about a year now. In the last 6 months or so I have developed a sciatic like pain, only happening when standing up and walking to far. The last few days it's been getting worse and I now have pins and needles in my legs and feet. Sometimes both legs but mostly my left. The sciatic pain is only ever in the left side of my buttock. When I try to stand, I am simply unable to put any weight onto my left leg for a while. I'm 31 years old and a mother to 4 plus work. The doctors keep brushing me off because of my age but I'm sure what I am experiencing isn't right. Can anyone help please? And thank you smile

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  • Posted

    HI Kelly, sorry to hear about your pain , I'm understand how you feel, did you try physical therapy ?, I have that pain but was after I have spinal lumbar fusion, before my was only in my lower back. You may go to

    a pain management specialist . Hope you have relief soon

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  • Posted

    Hi  Kelly, you would need to see a consultant who would take a MRI of your spine to confirm a diagnosis. However, as a cautionary tale (and please realise that your situation may not be my situation), age has nothing to do with it. I am someone who has been confirmed as having spinal stenosis and your symptoms sound remarkably similar to mine (though I had also had severe burning pain in my lower back). I should also say that I recognise what you say about your Doctor 'brushing it off due to age'. I have always been fit and active and started getting symptoms similar to yours at age 37 and within 5 years (and after a difficult pregnancy) I was virtually in a wheelchair. I spent thousands of pounds on physios, oesteopaths, acupuncturists, etc, etc. saw my GP countless times only to be told that I just needed to exercise more (despite me exercising every day). I was on a toxic cocktail of painkillers and still had unrelenting chronic pain. Finally I  had to go into my my GPs office (I am in England) and openly weep and state that I was depressed and couldn't take anymore before she finally relented and sent me to a consultant (via a labrynthine system of physios). After a second scan, the consultant told me I had 'severe' spinal stenosis and spondylithesis. He looked at me as if to say, 'what took you so long to get help?' It took 5 years from the start of my pain to getting a diagnosis (though much of this time was spent sitting on waiting lists to get various different spinal injections to see if those would work). The only thing that helped me in the end was decompression and fusion surgery. The consultant told me there were only 3 options for stenosis: surgery, injections or to leave it (sometimes it gets better on its own after several years). I wish I could go back and be more assertive from the start. I can't get those 5 years of my life back but I know now that listening to your body and trusting your instincts (even if you are wrong- if you are, who cares?) is critical to getting the help you might need. In England right now the emphasis is on not bothering the health services and I'm afraid back/sciatic pain are one of those things that tend to get fobbed off. I'm not sure what country you are in but if you can't get an MRI on your insurance or via your GP then pay for one yourself and then take it from there. If it is serious it should show up on the scan (though no guarantees, some people have relatively normal scans and bad pain) but at least you can put your mind to rest and take appropriate action. Be wary of well meaning therapists who frankly only want you to keep coming back for more expensive treatments (physio, oesteopathy, acupuncture, etc.). I would have better spent the money on an MRI of my spine. Being in pain with children is awful as you feel obliged to pretend that it is not as bad as it is in order to protect them from seeing you suffer. BTW, surgery for me was not the be all and end all and I still have pain but I walk much better and I feel much more empowered to make the right choices knowing that i did all I could to deal with the chronic (back and leg) pain of spinal stenosis. I hope your GP/health professionals are more helpful and you have an easier journey. Best of luck and let us know how you get on. L
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    • Posted

      I couldn't agree more with your post Laura - you are absolutely right in everything you've said. Sorry to hear of your dreadful experience. I have had very similar dismissive treatment from my GP who obviously doesn't want to spend her budget on referring me for an MRI. I asked for one to check my L5 grade 2 spondylolisthesis diagnosed about 20 years ago by X-Ray which suddenly changed in its level of discomfort after I fell heavily and broke my wrist, as well as other odd new neurological sensations I was experiencing. After 4 successive GP appointments I came away feeling like I was banging my head against a brick wall as she just fobbed me off every time I went to see her and asked for investigation into my symptoms. In desperation I decided to take things into my own hands, booked to see a private neurologist and had a swift MRI which showed a change in my spinal cord, now being investigated further with additional scans. It has cost me an arm and leg but I was at my wits end with my GP not taking me seriously. When you yourself know there's something really not right you want get a proper diagnosis and treatment ASAP.  She recommended counselling for stress, Pilates and cardiovascular exercise. She said nothing would show on an MRI and therefore it would not be helpful to do one. I'm not an advocate of going private but it has given me the sense of taking some control and looking after myself which I felt I had to do since I was denied help from the cash-strapped NHS.
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  • Posted

    Thank you both for your replies. So far the only treatment I have had is anti inflammatory meds. The doc didn't even look at me. I to am in England. I am the sort of person not to push things but in this case I'm beginning to think I need to! Although part of me wonders if it's all in my head! I was told by my doctor that because of my age they won't contemplate arthritis which is what I have though I may have up until recently. I've struggled to get a doctors appointment this week and even let a message with the on call doctor only to be told to take painkillers. I have to wait till next week to see someone. Although I am in pain, I don't think it's urgent enough to go to A&E, it's the sudden pins and needles that are worrying me more than anything at the moment
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    • Posted

      Hi Kelly, I'm sorry to hear about your struggle with pain and getting a proper diagnosis. Pins and needles is something your GP should investigate properly by referring you for an MRI and at the very least do a neuro test on you in surgery to make sure your reflexes are okay. In my own experience even having a diagnosed spinal defect I couldn't get my GP to refer me for MRI after the nature of my customary back discomfort suddenly changed for the worse following a bad fall. She qualified her refusal by saying it wouldn't show anything and was therefore no help. In the end I felt obliged to bypass her and go straight to a private neurologist who listened to me, took my symptoms seriously and sent me for a swift MRI which has shown up a change in the spinal cord that needs further investigation. I hope you can get your GP to take you seriously. Breaking down in front of him/her and saying you can't carry on as you are may help your cause - use everything in your emotional arsenal if you have to!  Best of luck.
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  • Posted

    Hey Kelly,You're instincts are probably right.  Sounds like you have a pinched nerve which could be from a herniated disk. YOu can have this injury at any time. You don't have to be 60! If your doctor is brushing you have - you may have to switch doctors.  They'll start with x-rays and then probably proceed to a CT scan or an MRI.  Don't ignore this.  Also, avoid surgery as long as you can.  It doesn't usually help with pain. You probably need to start with physical therapy.  No harm in googling exercises to do for sciatic pain and trying them. If that doesn't help, I would get to a neurologist and they will do injections.

     

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  • Posted

    I did think herniated disc to begin with. The symptoms seem roughly the same. The sciatic pain has stopped at the mo but the pins and needles are still there. I usually find after sitting down the pains start again. If I keep moving, at a slow pace, I'm ok till I've relaxed. If I'm running around like us mums do then it's worse
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    • Posted

      Kelly, are you in the UK? I'm in the US - Arizona. So I don't know your healthcare system.  I think you need to push to have an MRI done, but they will probably start with x-rays.  Don't let them ignore this. Trust your instincts. You are too young to have these pains.
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    • Posted

      Thanks for your reply. Yes I am in England so it's nhs service. I'll go through them until I can't take any more. Hopefully that is a long way off. After calling the doctors again just now, I am still unable to get an appointment so am waiting for the doctor to call me back. The pins and needles are still Present and last night my legs ached as though I'd run a marathon. The sciatica stayed away last night which was a relief as I was on my own with the kids.
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    • Posted

      I normally just have the aching in my left thigh - like right now. And then the neuropathy - pins and needles and pain is in my right foot. Can't drive, can't hardly stand to wear a shoe, so it's hard to walk. I also have sciatica and back pain.  Can't sleep - it's 1:30 am. I have an icepack on my left leg right now. It was on my back earlier.  I had a bad day today because of a bad cab company taking me to the doctor and I was given the wrong address, and this cab driver brings me to the wrong address and abandoned me, I ended up stranded sitting on a curb for an hour and 45 minutes and missed my appointment.  Sitting on the curb did not help matters, that's for sure. I'm 61 and I have 2 grandkids ages 12 and 2. Went to Colorado at Christmas to see them. Christmas Day I spent 2 hours with them and had to go back to bed. Ended up leaving 2 days earlier because I was in pain - that's because I foolishly volunteered to babysit my 2 year old grand child for the 4 days prior to Christmas.  I can't imagine how you make it day to day.
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    • Posted

      What a dreadful day!! You should put in a complaint to the taxi driver! My pains aren't anywhere near as bad as yours. I still manage day to day life and I work an 11 hour shift non stop. I only work one night shift a week though. When my pains are at their worse, apart from not being able to put weight on my legs for a while, I can still get about. It's just a struggle. Thankfully this mainly happens at night so my husband is home and the kids are in bed. The last few days have been a struggle but I've been able to get on ok. With just the youngest home during the day, I can sit on the sofa with him or lean on the buggy if we are out. It scares me that the pain may end up being 24/7 and as you know, running around after kids is hard work at the best of times.

      I hope you manage to get some sleep!

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    • Posted

      Thanks Kelly, Oh yeah, I did put in a complaint about the cab driver. He refused to give me his name, but they had it on record.  I've got hurt in 2003 in a car accident and I did manage to continue working until Dec 2014 after my 5th back surgery.  Just couldn't sit in a chair all day any more, definitely would not be able to stand all day.  Some days are worse than others, like today, when something happens to aggravate it.  I hear other people in this forum who are a lot worse than I am!  So I'm grateful that I am not worse off than I am.
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    • Posted

      Oh good, I hope he gets some sort of warning! Yea I feel kind of wrong suggesting I'm in pain when you and others are far worse than me, but I guess it all has to start somewhere sad I know if I don't over do things I'm ok and even on bad days, I'm not in pain so bad that I need anything stronger than the usual painkillers. It's the sciatic pain that's the worst. I suffered with hip problems during my 3rd and 4th pregnancy, both times ending up will using crutches. With my 4th, I had to leave work at 19 weeks and he was induced because of the pain. I do wonder if it's all stemmed from that. My youngest is only 20 months old and my hips haven't recovered since having him
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    • Posted

      I remember when all I had was sciatica.  That's painful and comfortable. I don't t hink anybody can say their pain is worse than someone else's.  I can't feel your pain and I don't know what it's like. I do remember though that when I "just had" sciatica, I still had problems sitting in my chair, I was mostly on tylonol and a low dose of some painkiller.  It interferes with your daily life and makes it difficult to get the things you used to get done.  And it starts to rob your life from  you.  I used to hike mountains and the Grand Canyon

       

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    • Posted

      Haha I wouldn't worry about it!!

      Yea walking around a zoo would mean a paunful night. It's not so bad whilst I have the baby's buggy to lean on. I'm dreading the day he stops using it!

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