I had an MRI on my spine on Saturday. Monday I got the results just in time for my second physical therapy session.
As I sit here typing this Monday afternoon, my back is aching, most likely because it did not like the new physical therapy exercises I got today.
Here's what I know. I have new severe thecal sac narrowing at L 3-4 and probable compression of the bilateral transversing L4 nerve roots. That nerve compression is what is causing the pain along the side of my leg, and most of the buckling of my right leg. My right leg is also fully involved with progressive arthritis in the hip, knee, and probably the ankle, that is causing additional issues.
There are lots of complex drawings to show what's going on, but this simple one makes sense to me.
The pink are the discs. A bulging disc causes pressure on the thecal sac, green, that sheaths the spinal cord, and on the nerve root at the point of compression. This would be like the second pink blob up from the bottom.
This new, severe compression is immediately above the location of my fusion surgery of four years ago. There are also some mild narrowings in several other places above and below the fusion, but they are not progressive at this point.
The biggest problem I am experiencing is stiffness in my lower back that makes it hard to straighten up and walk. Some days I can do two miles fairly easily, but other days it is very hard work.
My physical therapy is multifaceted, a continuation of the stretching exercises I have been doing for years for hips and knees, for arthritis, and for back and core strengthening. New are the exercises to straighten my right knee, which is eroding from arthritis, and back exercises that arch my back to relieve disc pressure. The result after the first three weeks was a lessening of the burning pain in my leg and fewer episodes of hip, knee or ankle buckling.
The back ache is new, and not a pleasant development.
I will be monitoring these developments with my PT therapist and my primary care doctor. My doctor is ready to refer me to the spine clinic as a next step if PT doesn't help enough.
So now you know more than you needed to about my occasional mention of mobility problems and my references to exercises.
I am trying my best to keep going. My life style and my body are in conflict, and I am not ready to surrender.
Soon I will be getting geared up to go to the stadium for a rare Monday night Sounders match. I plan to not be in pain and to walk upright.