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  • Margo
    Post count: 12

    Dear Dr. Corenman,

    I’m in South Korea and started having all these back troubles and the doctors are having trouble or won’t really tell me what is going on.  

    After a couple of years, 2 xrays, 1 MRI, I think I’m narrowing it down.  I think two doctors have mis diagnosed me and I finally found one who may have it.

    I’m 46 I had bad fall off a horse when I was 22 that left with with an pelvis that came apart and locked hip.

    In mid 2010 I started feeling numbness in my 3rd and 4th toe of the left foot after I walked for long periods.  I mean an hour or more.  When I sat down and rested it was OK.  Every time I walked I felt it so didn’t really know who to see about this so rather just rested every time I felt it.  In 2011 maybe November I saw a back doctor as I started jogging and I felt this sprain in my lower back.  How you feel when you sprain your ankle I felt that in my back.  The Xrays showed a herniated disc (so they said) between 4 and 5 of the lower back.  He put me into physio treatment a hot pack, and a machine with 3 or 4 pads connected to my nerve pathway that went for 15 minutes then traction and some medication.  I’d go for two weeks stay away after a month go again.  The pain would go after the two weeks but never completely. Later on the physio therapy was less and less effective.  Finally I saw another orthopedic doctor today and he said I have spinal stenosis after looking at those xrays.  He injected an anti inflamatory in my back at the spine and told me to come back in 4 days but there was no physic treatment.  I think that is working.

    Apart from all that I have something wrong with my neck i think between 5 and 6.  It’s also bulging and caused numbness in both hands. I first noticed that in January and when I asked about it they again put in for physic treatment which was NOT working, so everytimge I told him he seemed mad at me and finally snapped and said “it’s just a herniated disc and because you don’t believe me I’ll put in for an MRI. I did the MRI.  This I discovered last January and wrote to you then. You were very helpful.  The doctors here not so much and when it wouldn’t go away I kept going back he was mad that I’d go back and just told me to go for an MRI without any explanation what this was.  I still don’t know.  I hope this attachment works I’ll send you the MRI of my neck there are about 50 different angels of it so I’ll send two or three if I can.  I’m really really worried.  I have so much wrong with my spine and I’m not even insured if I did need an operation though i had better find a way to do something.  My neck is constantly stiff.  The good news is since I’ve improved my posture and got myself a comfort neck traction unit at home and use that.  I have not felt the numbness in my hands again.  But my neck is very very stiff.  When I do slow turning or stretching exercises on it. I kind of feel this stiff clickty click feeling which is really scary. I go for massages sometimes and the girls are shocked at all the tightness.  The Xrays show my neck is not the normal S shape but rather straight up.  Can this be changed with good posture?

    Can you give me any warnings of how to slow down whatever is happening to me?
    Can you tell me what you think is happening to me?
    I’m scared of getting a stroke or something out of this. Please tell me that’s not likely.
    Can you tell me what exercises are best for both the neck and lower back?
    I’m moving to Turkey to teach English and I’m not sure if there is therapy so easily available there. 

    Not sure how to attach my MRI here.


    Donald Corenman, MD, DC
    Post count: 8652

    First fact to acknowledge is that your neck and lower back are not related (except for genetics). Do not send me selected images as this generally does not work due to the fact all the images joined together are needed to understand the anatomy of the spine.

    In regards to your lower back, degenerative disc disease (extremely common and generally benign) can cause most of the symptoms that you describe. The “tired feeling” or “sprained back feeling” is quite common. A good core strengthening program, especially using Pilates can help to strengthen the core muscles which will reenforce the weakened lumbar spine. There are rare patients that cannot tolerate these symptoms and a surgical consultation could be in order.

    Now, if you have lumbar stenosis, that is a different story. Narrowing of the central spinal canal or nerve root exit zone (foramen) will compress the cauda equina or nerve root causing “numbness” when standing, walking and running.

    Clicking and popping in the neck that is not painful is very common and by itself, nothing to worry about. Stiffness is generally related to degenerative disc and facet disease. If there is no instability or canal/foraminal narrowing, therapy is the beginning treatment necessary. Chiropractic treatment can be very effective.

    Dr. Corenman

    Donald Corenman, MD, DC is a highly-regarded spine surgeon, considered an expert in the area of neck and back pain. Trained as both a Medical Doctor and Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Corenman earned academic appointments as Clinical Assistant Professor and Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and his research on spine surgery and rehabilitation has resulted in the publication of multiple peer-reviewed articles and two books.
    Post count: 12

    Thank you so much. That’s very helpful and relieves a lot of my initial fears. I seem to have found a doctor finally that knows what he’s talking about so I’ll see what he says on wednesday.

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