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Dr. Rick, MD
Dr. Rick, MD, Board Certified MD
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 11164
Experience:  20+ years as a doctor. Internal Medicine Internship in NYC
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EMG test showed abnormal nerve results and muscle damage and

Customer Question

EMG test showed abnormal nerve results and muscle damage and weakness. Had MRI which showed protruding discs L3/L4 and L4/L5. Upon physical examination, my neurologist found my right leg to be very weak and I could not raise my big toe on the right foot upwards. Had no trouble doing this with my left big toe. He called me Friday night with the test results and wants to see me ASAP for further evaluation. He said he may refer me to a nuerosurgen. Just wondering what this may all mean and what questions I should be asking. I really do not want to have surgery, but I am concerned about the leg weakness getting worse. I should note that I have had lower back pain and leg/hip pain for over 3 months. I have also had urine leakage issues.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. Rick, MD replied 4 years ago.
What is going on is that your bulging disks are placing pressure on your nerves and causing damage to them. The MRI shows the areas where the pressure is being put on the nerves and your doctor has found that the MRI findings correlate with his clinical findings of weakness and muscle atrophy.

I believe that your neurologist, from what you have posted, feels that all the data point to the fact that the damage being done to your nerves is to the point where conservative measures (physical therapy, steroid injections, etc) are not a good idea and you should consider surgery to take the pressure off your nerves to allow healing and to stop any further damage.

Does this make sense to you?

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks. It does make sense, but back surgery is not something I want to do right now. I have so much going on right now between work and family commitments, and I don't want to be "laid up" and miss out on things. Is it possible that conserative measures can get me through the summer and I can think about having the surgery in the fall? I do not want further damage done but surgery is just not an option right now. Do you know how long the average person is out of work for back surgery? I know there are various types of surgery but just looking at an average number of days/weeks. Also, does one need to do physical therapy after surgery?
Expert:  Dr. Rick, MD replied 4 years ago.
I can understand not wanting surgery. Missing family events and things because you are laid up is never fun but I think you have to ask yourself what will you miss is you loose the use of your leg?

The time you are laid up depends upon a number of things, not the least of which is what type of surgical procedure you need and how things go during the operation. This question is best asked of your neurologist or neurosurgeon. That being said, it can be as short as a day or two or as long as a month or more....

Physical therapy is normally a part of any type of back surgery.


Discuss all of this in detail with your neurologist and keep an open mind to all possible treatment options so as you maximize your long term gain. Don't be penny wise and pound foolish -- once nerve function is destroyed it can not be regained.....

I wish you the best of luck. Take care.