Today I found out why I have such awful nerve pain and numbness in my back and legs. It’s a condition called spinal stenosis, and we the story of how we discovered it follows:
During my regularly scheduled follow up with my internist (the one after the ER follow up debacle), she gave me a referral to a new orthopedist—one who believes in my philosophy of avoiding surgery at all costs. (Background: I don’t do well with surgery, usually having bleeding complications or a triggering Lupus flare.)
I met with the new orthopedist, Dr. T, last week. I informed her of my bilateral avascular necrosis in the femoral heads of my hips and the compressed discs in my back and neck. I also explained to her that suddenly within the last few weeks, I found that I was having more and more nerve pain in my legs after walking and that standing up for more than 10 minutes resulted in severe numbness in both my feet that worked its way up both legs. This was a new development.
After she examined me, she ordered an MRI of my lower back. She only ordered an x-ray of my hips, as if that were going to reveal anything. I think that x-rays are a complete waste of time. They rarely reveal much (as was the case with the negative chest x-ray when I was suffering with my pulmonary embolism), and the doctor always winds up doing an MRI or CT scan anyway.
So, today was my follow up with her after the MRI and x-ray. The report from the radiologist revealed severe spinal stenosis in my lower back and sacrum. No wonder I had numbness and pain!
Her go-to approach for this type of diagnosis is trigger point injections of painkillers and/or cortisone, just like I had at a previous orthopedist. I told her that back then, I found that the shots only caused more harm and no good. They hurt like crazy, and only added a different twist to my pain.
So, instead, she suggested that I try acupuncture. Hmmm. I’ve tried that before, but each time, it was just too weird and didn’t do much for me. But, given this situation, I am definitely willing to try again. I really think that I just didn’t have the right acupuncturist for me.
So, I left there with a prescription for acupuncture in hand. Kind of hopeful that ancient Chinese medicine would do me some good this time.